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Grand Rapids Third Offense DUI Charges
Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is quite serious. The penalties for drunk driving are life altering, and may include community services, fines, and even jail time. The penalties for drivers with a prior DUI on their record are even more severe. If you have recently been arrested and charged with a Michigan DUI third offense, speak with an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.Third Offense DUI is a Felony
In 1999 the Michigan legislature completely rewrote Michigan's DUI laws. Prior to this rewrite, for a new DUI arrest to be a felony, a person had to have two prior offenses within the past 10 years. Later, along came Heidi's law, and this created life-time lookback for DUI offenses. Now, instead of past charges dropping off after 10 years, the age of a prior conviction makes no difference. You can have 2 prior offenses that are each more than 20 years old, and both of these convictions can be used by a prosecutor to "enhance" your new DUI arrest from a first offense misdemeanor to a third offense felony.
Just because you have two or more prior offenses does not mean you automatically are facing a felony. Prosecutors sometimes decide that priors are too old and allow the case to continue as a first offense. In other instances, prosecutors might miss the prior convictions, and inadvertently write a felony DUI as a first offense. This can create a dilemma for your lawyer because lawyers have an ethical duty of candor to the court. Thus, if your lawyer knows about your priors, under most circumstances, they are obligated to inform the court.Importance of Hiring an Attorney
Why is hiring an attorney if you are facing a Michigan DUI third offense charge so important? If you have been previously convicted of DUI two or more prior times, you are likely to be charged with a felony. Felony offenders are looking at an absolute minimum of 30 days in jail and up to five years in prison. They may also have their license revoked for up to five years. Additionally, a person convicted of felony drunk driving may have trouble finding employment (especially for positions which involve working with children or for the government) and are prohibited from owning firearms.
Many people think that they will automatically be convicted of Michigan DUI third offense just because they failed the field sobriety tests or breathalyzer, but this is not always the case. A skilled DUI attorney will go over the police report to determine if the traffic stop was warranted, or the field sobriety tests were administered properly. Your attorney may also request the breathalyzer's maintenance and calibration records to determine if your breath tests were accurate. There is also the rarely utilized possibility of a collateral attack on a prior conviction. This is where your lawyer tries to knock out a prior by showing that it is legally invalid in some way.Penalties for a Conviction
If convicted of a Michigan DUI third offense, the judge may sentence you to no less than one year or more than five years in prison or probation with jail time for no less than 30 days or more than 12 months as well as 60 to 180 days of community service. Your bank account could also take a hit, as fines for a Michigan DUI third offense cost $500-$5,000. The judge may also have your vehicle immobilized if you are convicted.
Important: even out-of-state convictions can be used to determine the number of prior DUIs on your record.