Fairfax Third Offense DUI Lawyer

If you have been arrested for a DUI a third or subsequent time within 10 years, you face a felony charge. While the judges and prosecutors might treat your situation as a substance abuse problem, they still take these cases extremely seriously. Thankfully, a dedicated DUI attorney could help you take the proactive steps that could help you avoid a felony on your record. Contact a Fairfax third offense DUI lawyer today for the help you need.

Building a Defense Against a Third DUI

As with other DUI charges, a person charged with a third-offense DUI should consider the Commonwealth’s evidence and how they will prove the DUI. There are a number of factors that the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt when pursuing a conviction for a DUI, third or subsequent offense.

First, the prosecutor has the burden to prove that the driver was in fact intoxicated. This can be challenging and a number of potential defenses could be raised with the help of a Fairfax third offense DUI attorney’s help. Second, the Commonwealth has to prove that the alleged offender was operating a vehicle. What many people do not realize is that simply sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle with the keys in the ignition constitutes operation of the vehicle, even if the vehicle was not in motion. Third, the Commonwealth has to show that the individual had been convicted of at least two other DUIs within 10 years, and that those DUIs were conducted either in Virginia or in states that have similar DUI laws.

Factors and Evidence Sought

Factors that are typically considered in a third-offense DUI case include whether previous DUI convictions constitute a prior conviction, how long ago those convictions took place, and in which state the prior offenses took place. The Commonwealth will need to have certified copies of the case disposition for that previous case, which may be tough to get in some cases. Regarding the accused’s level of intoxication and whether or not they were operating a vehicle, the evidence will be largely the same as that which is relied upon in in first or second DUI cases will be relevant. This includes:

  • Police video
  • Field sobriety tests
  • Field notes from on-site officers
  • Field sobriety tests
  • Reliability of breathalyzers

How Challenging is Defending a Third DUI Compared to the First?

The main difference between a third-offense DUI and a first offense DUI is that a third DUI is a felony, as long as the prior DUIs were within 10 years. There are several very important differences, mostly regarding the punishment that can take place. A felony conviction is more serious and therefore the punishment involved is more severe. There are also differences regarding the court procedure, which is more formal and very different from a misdemeanor case.

What is the Difference in Procedure Between a Misdemeanor and Felony DUI?

Most misdemeanor trials are heard in the lower General District Court and are rarely appealed to the higher Circuit Court. Thus, misdemeanor cases are usually “bench trials” conducted before a General District Court judge. On the contrary, a felony third-offense DUI goes through multiple stages. First, a preliminary hearing will be conducted in the General District Court before a judge. Only after the Commonwealth has met its burden at the preliminary hearing stage will the case be moved to Circuit Court, where it is usually tried before a jury at the request of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Let a Fairfax Third Offense DUI Lawyer Help

While the court’s leniency does apply to honest mistakes, a repeat pattern of mistakes tends to indicate something more serious. This does not mean, however, that you are out of options. With the help of a Fairfax third offense DUI lawyer, you could understand the proactive steps that you could take and seek help. Doing so could demonstrate to the court that you are invested in making amends and trying to better yourself. Contact an attorney today to learn more about your options.