Third Offense DUI Penalties in Somerset
When a person is facing the penalties of a third offense DUI in Somerset, it is very important that they contact a skilled attorney right away. An attorney who is familiar with the Somerset area can use their experience and knowledge to help a person build the strongest defense possible and therefore combat the severe penalties that can result from a third offense DUI.
Diversion Programs or Probation
Diversion programs typically are not offered at all, regardless of whether it is a defendant’s first or third offense. It would be highly unusual for the prosecutor’s office to offer any sort of diversionary program for a DUI. Probation would probably be included in a sentence for a third time DUI. If the judge is sentencing somebody on their third DUI, the court has a couple of decisions to make. The court can take the approach that there is no sense in giving a person a suspended sentence on a third time DUI and just give that person active time and no period of probation.
On the other hand, the judge may consider that they are seeing a defendant on a third time DUI and make sure that person is at least being supervised and not continuing to drink, they are maintaining an alcohol restriction on their license. There could be a lot valid reasons why a judge would want to have a third time DUI defendant on probation. The defendant should anticipate that probation would occur after the defendant has served some period of active incarceration, which is typically called a split sentence. The defendant would serve some period of active incarceration and the balance of the sentence would be suspended and the defendant would not be placed on a period of supervised probation. If the defendant violated the terms of probation, the judge would have the option of having the defendant serve the sentence that had been suspended.
Enhanced Penalties or Aggravating Factors
Under the statutes, a third time DUI charge can mean subsequent offender penalties which are serious, because the person can be incarcerated for up to three years. For a third or subsequent offense, a driver could be facing a fine of not more than $3,000 or imprisonment for not more than three years, or both. Those are very serious penalties. Those are the statutory maximums; that does not mean that is the sentence the defendant will receive. It is the maximum that the court could give someone.
Realistically on the eastern shore in Somerset County for a third time DUI charge, the person’s sentence is going to include jail time. It is just a question of how long the sentence would be. There are exceptions to every rule. If those DUIs were spaced out over a great deal of time, the sentence is probably going to look different. If, for example, the first DUI took place 25 years ago and the second one was 10 years ago, the sentence for the third DUI may be less severe. On the other hand, if somebody has gotten three DUIs within a five-year period, the sentence is potentially going to be a lot greater.
Minors in the Vehicle
If the person is driving under the influence and has a minor in the car, it is an aggravating factor and therefore it is a separate statutory offense and carries a maximum penalty of two years and/or a $2,000 fine if it is a first offense, three years and/or a $3,000 fine for a second offense, and four years and/or $4,000 fine for a third offense.
If they are DWI, the lesser of the drunk driving charges, the maximum penalty is six months in jail for a first offense and one year in jail for a second or subsequent offense. If the person is driving under the influence and they have a minor in the car, they can potentially receive one sentence regarding the DUI and an additional sentence for the fact they were DUI with a minor in the car.
What to Look for in an Attorney
Local experience always matters when looking for an attorney, which is why a person should look for an attorney that has local experience in the jurisdiction where they are charged. There is no substitute for an attorney who regularly appears in front of judges and regularly has interaction with the prosecutor’s office. In cases where an attorney has always been professional and truthful when working with prosecutors, that local attorney gains credibility and the trust of the prosecutor. That trust in the relationship cannot be substituted; nothing can substitute for an attorney who regularly practices in Somerset County, walks into that courtroom, and knows the prosecutor well enough to be able to sit down and have a conversation with them.