Can I be charged as a first DUI offender if it has been over 10 years since my last DUI?

Will you be considered a first offender if it has been 10 years since your prior DUI conviction or PBJ? Well, it is much like your virginity, once you lose it-you lost it!

What do I mean by that? Once you have received a DUI or DWI and received some form of probation or guilty verdict, that can never be undone and you will never be considered a “first offender” again; in point of fact, you are not a first offender, you will be a second offender, even 10+ years later.  Now, if you go to court on your first offense and you are found Not Guilty by the judge or jury, well then that is NOT a first offense because you were not found guilty and you did not receive a probation before judgment.  A not guilty means you were not guilty of the charge and is therefore not considered a first offense.  In this instance, a “second violation” irrespective of when it occurs (1 year or 5 years) is indeed a first offense (because you beat the earlier offense) and you are entitled to first offense status.  Ie. eligible for a PBJ.

Now, what is this business about 10 years? That time period is the new limit in which a “second offender” is not even legally eligible for a probationary disposition such as  a PBJ.  Therefore, if in your first DUI offense you received the benefit of probation before judgment and therefore were able to keep your record clean and void of any points, that would mean you are not even eligible for a PBJ within 10 years of receiving your first PBJ. You can however retain the best lawyer you can find and fight your case in court and try to obtain a not guilty in the second offense.

Finding the best lawyer you can find is not quite as easy as it sounds.  There are many attorneys out there so how do you possibly know who to select? Well, aside from their reputation in the community or online, one indicator is the fee that you are quoted for representation.  DUI fees that sound too low simply mean that the attorney is not going to try your case in court, rather they are just going to show up on the day of court and plead you out.  Remember, you essentially get what you pay for in this world.  Thus, if winning your case or staying out of jail is important, you must secure a DUI law firm that is not afraid to try your case and one that knows how to do that.  If you (or your lawyer) is not prepared to try your case you cannot win your case!  I can’t tell you the number of times we  have said “ready for trial your honor” and the state is either not ready or doesn’t know how to try the case or their witnesses mess up or something favorable happens in the case and we win a case that did not appear to be winnable.

Just the other day we were in front of one of the most difficult judges who nobody tries anything in front of, it’s always either a postponement or a jury trial demand.  Our highly experienced DUI attorney announced he was ready for trial and it turns out the cop involved in the case was being investigated for a crime and the case ended up being dropped.  This was a second offense that our client walked away from- not guilty as the case was dismissed.

This is very important because if your attorney isn’t prepared to say “ready for trial” you don’t find these things out and you just roll over.