Most people understand basic DUI laws. They understand driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offense. However, many people do not understand DUI enhancement laws. “Enhancement” is a term used in criminal law to refer to the act of charging identical or similar conduct more seriously, based on past offenses. Sometimes, this concept is best illustrated by example.
Imagine a person has four drinks after work, then gets into their car and drives home. Imagine further they are pulled over for crossing the center line. After performing the appropriate tests, the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is over the legal limit.
The potential consequences this person faces depends, in part, on their prior record.
First time DUI Offenses
As a general rule, and with some exceptions, a first time DUI is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1000 fine. However, this presumes a blood alcohol concentration of .08 to .14. Even if it is a first offense, a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 to .19 is considered a more serious offense, with more serious jail consequences. Finally, even if it is a first offense, if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration of .20 or more, the fine and jail sentence can increase over a lower reading. There are also additional driver’s license consequences.
Second DUI Offenses
Even if the conduct involved in a second DUI is identical to the conduct in a first time DUI, the second DUI faces more serious penalties in some circumstances. These increased penalties include a higher minimum fine and greater jail time. As with first time DUI offenses, a second DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 to .19, as well as cases with a blood alcohol concentration over .20 come with additional penalties, including more severe driver’s license suspension consequences.
Third DUI Offenses
Because of enhancement laws, even if the conduct in a third DUI is identical to the conduct in a first or second DUI, the punishment for the conduct is more severe. A third DUI is punishable by a fine of $2000 and a one-year minimum sentence of imprisonment. Community service may be an option, at the discretion of the court.
Fourth DUI Offenses
A fourth DUI offense comes with even more serious consequences. These consequences include a fine of $5,000 and imprisonment of at least two years without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The court has the option of suspending the balance of a ten-year prison sentence.
If You Face Criminal Charges
If you face criminal charges, do not attempt to go it alone. As you can see from the DUI laws, identical conduct can result in increasingly serious consequences. That is why it is essential to have qualified, experienced counsel on your side from the very beginning of your case. DUI cases can be challenged on a variety of issues. These include the initial stop, the basis for the request to test, and even the reliability of the test itself. Don’t leave anything to chance. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Joubert Law Firm at (225) 761-3822. We represent clients across the state of Louisiana.