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People who are in the frightening position of being charged with their fourth (or subsequent) DUI offense within a ten year period often want to know what consequences they potentially face. Unlike a person’s first DUI, second DUI or third DUI convictions, a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction is considered a felony which carries substantially more severe penalties for those who are convicted, including prison sentences.
Courts and the legislature have basically concluded that once a defendant has committed four or more DUI offenses within a ten year period, the defendant is either unwilling or unable to stop drinking and driving and serious measures must be taken to control and punish the defendant’s repeated violations of the DUI laws.
It is important to remember that a DUI not involving loss of life or serious bodily injury is only a felony when the defendant has three or more prior convictions for driving under the influence or wet reckless within the previous ten years. Convictions for comparable DUI offenses from other states would be considered prior offenses if they fell within the ten year “lookback” period. If the defendant has prior convictions that are over ten years old, these would not count in terms of sentencing on a defendant’s current case. However, the prosecutor would likely be aware of the defendant’s complete criminal history and may push for greater punishments when they see that the defendant had previous DUI convictions regardless of when they occurred.
A person who has been convicted of a fourth DUI offense can face very severe criminal penalties. The specific penalty imposed will depend on a number of factors, including the defendant’s age and previous criminal record, the specific facts of the current underlying DUI offense, the facts surrounding the defendant’s previous offenses, the defendant’s history of rehabilitation and anything else that may prove relevant.
As discussed, a fourth time DUI offense is a felony level crime that is punishable by prison sentences of sixteen months, two years or four years. In lieu of prison, the defendant can be placed on felony probation and may have to serve an extensive amount of time in jail and abide by several conditions of probation. In addition to jail, these can include completion of a drug and alcohol program, community service or labor, expensive fines, restitution if owed and anything else that a judge may choose to impose.
If the defendant was on DUI probation at the time that he or she was charged with the fourth DUI offense, the judge could revoke the existing sentence and could require the defendant to serve the remainder of this sentence in jail. This jail sentence would be served in addition to whatever penalty is ultimately assessed for the fourth DUI conviction.
In addition to these criminal penalties, the defendant would have his or her driver’s license revoked for at least four years and would be designated as a habitual traffic offender by the Department of Motor Vehicles. This designation would subject the defendant to mandatory jail time on future driving convictions.