If you get a second DUI / OVWI within seven years of a prior DUI / OVWI, it will be charged as a felony. A second DUI / OVWI is serious, not only because it’s charged as a felony, but also because of the different perspectives surrounding first and second-offense DUI / OVWIs. A first offense is serious, but judges, prosecutors, and the public tend to understand that mistakes happen, and no one is perfect; it can really happen to anyone.
When it comes to a second offense, the courts and the public are much less forgiving. Judges and prosecutors think that the person is not learning their lesson or has an alcohol problem, or both. Unfortunately, the focus of a repeat offender DUI / OVWI prosecution is making an example out of the person.
Second DUI / OVWI: Mandatory jail or mandatory community service?
The biggest difference between a first and second DUI / OVWI is that for the second, there is a mandatory five actual days in jail or 240 hours of community service. To do a little math, 240 hours of community service is the equivalent of working a full-time job for six weeks. This stretches out even longer if someone only has the weekends available for their community service.
Still, most clients (and pretty much most people in general) would rather do the community service than jail time. Unfortunately, it’s not always up to the client. Some prosecutors will never even offer the community service work. Others will offer the community service work, but the judge will never accept it.
Beyond the fact that it’s a felony, this is what makes a second offense so serious—a defendant often has little-to-no choice in which of these statutorily required “options” they will end up with.
The Marc Lopez Law Firm understands the stigmas that come with a second or felony DUI / OVWI charge.
A felony conviction carries with it serious legal and societal stigmas. To be blunt, felonies are no fun for anyone. If you have a felony conviction on your record, there are certain jobs you cannot hold. You cannot own a gun. You’ll be excluded from certain federal benefits programs. If you’re in school, you can lose scholarships or financial aid.
The societal stigma can be just as bad as the legal stigma. Many employers simply will not hire felons. If you’re facing felony charges right now, don’t freak out. It’s NOT the end of the world, but you are facing greater challenges than someone with a first-time DUI / OVWI.
What are the legal consequences of a second or felony DUI / OVWI charge?
Remember, a second DUI / OVWI will always be treated more harshly than a first time offense. Even if it’s been more than seven years since your last DUI / OVWI, and you’re facing a misdemeanor instead of a felony, it’s a safe bet that the case will NOT play out like your first one.
When there are two DUI / OVWIs within seven years, things get much, much worse. This will be charged as a Level 6 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
You’re also facing a two-and-a-half year driver’s license suspension, and that’s if you didn’t refuse the certified chemical test. The ultimate sentence that someone ends up with is hugely dependent on the county, the judge, and the attorney they’ve hired to defend them.
Some counties are easier than others. Some judges are more generous than others. Even in “good” counties, individual prosecutors have a lot of discretion, and not all of them share a willingness to compromise.
What should you do if you are facing a second or felony DUI / OVWI charge?
It’s important to act as soon as possible. Start doing things now to help yourself and your case. Believe it or not, the sooner you do something, the more genuine your motivation appears to be. An early start looks SO MUCH BETTER than a late one.
Felony charges are serious, and you need someone who knows the counties, the prosecutors, the science, and the law. You need someone to guide you through the DUI / OVWI process. Give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!