Somerset Second Offense DUI Lawyer
Second offense DUIs are tried more aggressively than first offense DUIs. For example, if the defendant had a DUI within the past year and are still on probation for their first DUI, then the prosecution will likely be extremely aggressive on a second DUI and will work to ensure the defendant serves some sort of jail time.
Due to the severity of second offense DUI charges in Somerset and how courts view these charges, it is very important for a person facing these charges to contact a Somerset DUI lawyer right away to ensure they have the best opportunity to minimize, or even dismiss, the charges against them.
Where Cases Are Heard
Whether a person is facing their first or their second DUI, it still is going to be held in the District Court for Somerset County.
It is important for people to understand that if they are charged with the DUI, they have the right to pray a jury trial, which means that the case would be heard in the Circuit Court for Somerset County. That is a decision that should be discussed with an attorney regarding the advantages and disadvantages of having the case tried by a jury instead of a bench trial.
Whether the case is heard in District Court or Circuit Court, both of those courts are located in Princess Anne, which is the county seat for Somerset County.
The penalties for a second offense DUI can get much greater than a first offense DUI. The state’s attorney can file for a subsequent offender penalty if the person has a prior DUI, in which case it is possible that the maximum penalty would be increased from one year to two years. Typically, in Somerset County, the prosecutor’s office is very diligent on filing subsequent offender notices.
The amount of time between DUIs can matter a great deal because prior DUIs can be used to enhance the sentence of a subsequent DUI, even if the prior conviction was less severe.
There are mandatory minimums that can come into play as well. For example, if a person was convicted of a DUI, and within five years they get a second DUI, then the judge can give them a mandatory minimum penalty of five days.
However, if it is a defendant’s second DUI, but the first one was 20 years ago, then that is going be looked at a little bit differently. For this reason, it is important to know what the defendant’s driving record is and how much time has passed between the first DUI and the second DUI. Generally speaking, if it is a person’s second DUI, then they can anticipate that the prosecutor’s office is going to be very aggressive and are going to ask for some sort of jail time.
Therefore, it is very important for a person to provide their attorney with a certified copy of their entire driving record. The attorney will want to assess whether or not the person has any priors, and if they do, how old they are and what they are since it can make a huge difference to what the potential sentence could be.
Diversion Programs or Probation
A diversionary program would rarely, if ever, be offered in a DUI case.
On a second offense, a defendant can anticipate that the prosecutor may still be willing to offer some sort of probation, but they also need to be prepared that the prosecutor is going to be requesting that they serve some sort of jail time.
In this scenario, it is what is referred to as a split sentence, meaning the defendant may be sentenced to six months, but most of that would be suspended. However, if there is a suspended sentence and the defendant has a period of probation, there would still be actual jail time.
Comparison to First Time Charges
A first time DUI charge is when the court is going to offer the most leniency. A first time DUI is when a person can anticipate the opportunity to receive probation before judgment and hopefully keep their record clean.
A second DUI charge to the court is an indication that the person has a problem with alcohol. It may be for a first offense that a person, on one occasion, had too much to drink and got stopped. Maybe an argument could be made, especially if it is a young person, they did not realize how little it took for them to be driving under the influence. A second DUI, however, is when the court would see some red flags and think that the person has an issue with alcohol, and did not just make a mistake.
The sentences can get more severe, and it is possible that the judge would want the person to seek treatment. The conditions of probation would be more involved than would be anticipated for a first DUI.