DUI defense attorneys in Alabama understand that second and subsequent convictions on your record can serious consequences on a new traffic case.
In South Dakota v. Burkett, a suspect is alleged to have entered an auto parts store and asked for various products. He is said to have left the store without buying anything. Later in the day, he entered the store a second time and asked for more random items. He again left without buying anything.
The store clerk noted that he could smell the presence of alcohol on the suspect the second time. He returned a third time and, this time, the store clerks noticed that he was incoherent and had slurred speech.
At this point, the suspect left the store and got into his van, squealed the tires and drove away. The store clerks called the police and provided the driver’s name, description of the vehicle, and home address, which they got from an order form, but they requested that this be considered an anonymous tip.
The police confirmed that his home address from the department of motor vehicles matched the one provided by the store clerk, and they proceeded to follow the van. The officer observed the van stopped in the middle of an intersection with its engine revving for no apparent reason. When the officer made contact with the suspect and asked what was going on, the suspect reportedly told the officer that his carburetor was not working. The officer reported that the driver was swaying, nervous, uncooperative, and exhibited other similar behavior that the officer felt was consistent with intoxication. The driver was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.
According to the record, the driver had previously been convicted of DUI on two occasions and the state treated this case as a third offense DUI. He was convicted and received an enhanced sentence based on being a prior DUI offender. He appealed the conviction on several grounds, including that the trial improperly considered the previous offenses, because, even though he had pleaded guilty to the charges, his prior pleas did not meet constitutional standards and should be stricken. The appeals court upheld the trial court’s use of the enhanced sentence based upon prior DUI convictions.
This case highlights the importance of fighting every DUI case, even if it is your first offense. Many people who get charged with a DUI think that they can just plead guilty, avoid jail time, and maybe even avoid having a DUI on their record through some type of pretrial diversion program. While this may be good advice under the right circumstances, you should consult with a lawyer who regularly represents people charged with DUIs before agreeing to any plea.
Even though the first DUI may not be treated that serious, taking a quick plea can set you up for serious consequences if you are arrested a second time for DUI. In Alabama, the second or subsequent DUIs may even be treated as a felony, which can have serious consequences to your liberty and ability to maintain employment. For example, a fourth DUI conviction is considered a Class C felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.