Manassas Third Time DUI Charges

Even though all DUIs in Manassas are prosecuted rather vigorously, third offense DUIs are the most egregious, because they show law enforcement officials that an individual has a pattern of driving under the influence. As a result, a third offense DUI charge and/or conviction can have disastrous consequences on a person’s record and driver’s license. Below, a Manassas DUI lawyer discusses how law enforcement officials prosecute third offense DUIs, and how defense attorneys begin to build a case for their clients. For more information on third offense DUIs in Manassas, don’t hesitate to call and schedule your consultation with our Manassas DUI team.

Where Third Offense DUIs are Heard in Manassas

Third-offense DUI charges are heard in Manassas at the Prince William County Courthouse which is on Lee Avenue in the City of Manassas.

Penalties For Third Offense DUI

The most notable difference between a third-offense DUI and any other is that it is a felony. In addition to whatever penalties you might get from the court, if convicted you will be a convicted felon for the rest of your life. That alone is a good enough reason to take this very seriously. A third-offense DUI does carry real consequences, including a minimum of 90 days in jail and an indefinite, up-to-ten-year loss of your license. Prosecutors never offer diversion programs or probation on a third offense.

A third-offense DUI in Manassas is a felony, but is only a felony if the two previous convictions were within the last ten years.

Enhanced Penalties or Aggravating Factors in Third Offense Cases

One important penalty enhancement after a third offense or subsequent DUI depends on the time period between the first and the present conviction.  If the third offense is within a 10 year period, the mandatory jail time is 90 days.  If it’s a third offense is within 5 years, the mandatory minimum jail time is 12 months.  The timing of the previous convictions is what matters the most.

How Courts Treat Third Offense DUI Charges

The court process is very different for a third-offense DUI. Unlike first and second offenses which are tried in General District Court, the third-offense DUI is tried in the Circuit Court. The case will begin for a third-offense DUI in Manassas in the General District Court for what is called a preliminary hearing. The judge at that level has the role of determining if probable cause exists to go forward with the charge. If the judge determines it should move forward, then it will advance to the Circuit Court.

Once in Circuit Court, a Grand Jury will meet and presumably advise the defendant of the felony DUI charge. Once that occurs we need to appear in front of a judge to set a trial date. In Circuit Court the defendant has the right to have a jury hear his or her case. This is another difference in how the court treats a DUI, because there is no jury trial available in the General District Court.

Building a Defense For Third Offense DUIs in Manassas

There are three categories of defenses for DUI charges. There are Constitutional, statutory, and scientific defenses. For a third offense an attorney will also need to look at the validity of the predicate offenses. That includes the timing of them and where they took place. Additionally, the defense will also need to require the government to secure the correct type of copies of those previous convictions. All of those things go into the analysis an attorney will perform in determining the strength or weakness of the government’s case.

Defending Third Offense v. First Offense DUI 

Many of the same issues apply regardless of how the DUI is charged. The only difference between defending a third-offense DUI and a first-offense DUI when it comes to the amount of preparation that I do prior to court, is determining whether the government can successfully use predicate offenses to justify the felony charge. Regardless, the issues in DUI cases remain the same across the board in the sense that there are always Constitutional, statutory and scientific defenses.

Hiring A Third DUI Lawyer

Local experience is critical in cases like this because a local attorney is going to understand the way the felony system works in your area and how best to proceed with your case. Aside from that, a local attorney is going to be intimately familiar with the judges and prosecutors who will be involved in your case. This means that they may know how best to tackle a prosecutor or how best to argue in front of a certain judge. There is a saying in all public speaking: you have to know your audience. That is never more true than in the criminal justice system.  Some judges are more amenable to certain arguments than others, and a local attorney will know the tendencies of the judges and how best to leverage that knowledge in your favor.