If you are charged with DWI / DUI 2nd in Virginia, you need to make sure your attorney gets an actual copy of the prior conviction. This could be a fruitful tool for your defense.
Hello, I’m Andrew Flusche. I’m a Virginia traffic attorney. If you’re charged with a DWI or DUI second offense in Virginia, it is critically important for your attorney to obtain a certified copy of the prior DUI.
There are a lot of pieces involved when there is a second offense DUI, and unfortunately, some attorneys I don’t think actually go to the effort to get the actual court documents for that prior offense. We can’t just assume that if your criminal record or driving record says that you were convicted of DUI within the past 10 years, that that’s correct or exactly what happened and everything is in order.
There are quite a few laws at play here, but essentially, the prior DUI, first of all, has to be substantially similar to a Virginia DUI. So if it is an out of state DUI in particular, we definitely need to get a certified copy from the court of that prior conviction. We also need to get the actual law in affect at that time in that state so we can analyze and determine if that law at that time is substantially similar to Virginia’s DUI law.
The other important piece of this–even if the prior is a Virginia DUI–I’ve had many cases on many types of priors, with driving on suspended, for example, where the documents from the court simply are not correct. The court will say that it’s one thing, and the DMV says it’s another thing.
As you can see, for a DUI, the stakes are huge if it’s a second offense. If we can get the first alleged prior to be ruled not a DUI or something was wrong with it where it doesn’t count against you, then you are looking at a first offense DUI which has drastic differences in terms of punishments, especially with your license suspension.
It’s really important, no matter what the DMV records say and what the criminal history says, we need to get the actual copies from the court of the prior offense. That way we can see if there is maybe an error on the paperwork where it maybe doesn’t count, or if you were actually convicted of something else instead of DUI. And if it’s an out of state prior, we can see exactly what the law of that state was and hopefully we can prove that it’s not substantially similar to Virginia’s DUI law.
There are a lot of pieces and if you have an attorney, you definitely need to make sure they’re doing this. And if you want to talk more about it, give me a call.
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