Often, people feel that a DUI in their home state will always count as a prior DUI here in the state of Arizona, but realistically, we don’t care what the law is called; different states can call their DUI laws whatever they want. We care that the specific statute and subsection they were convicted under correlates to Arizona DUI law in this particular circumstance? For instance, in New Hampshire, what they call DUI also includes boating DUI and we have no boating equivalent in our DUI laws; we have OUI, or operating under the influence, but an OUI conviction in Arizona is not a “prior DUI conviction” for enhancement purposes to make a subsequent offense a second-time offense, so it the New Hampshire conviction won’t enhance here.
Do People Generally Underestimate the Severity of an Out-of-state DUI Charge?
It depends on the law; everyone with a prior DUI who went through the system once and is now facing another charge is concerned about whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, about how much jail time they face and they are concerned about their license. We don’t look at the facts of the prior out-of-state conviction, we look at the law and so, when you have the right attorney who knows what they are doing, it can really make all the difference and turn a second-time offense into a first-time offense. In a recent case in which the prosecutor would not listen to reason, I kept explaining why they could not use my client’s prior New Hampshire DUI conviction against them, I gave them four different examples why, but they disagreed with me.
We ended up fighting the case and what started out as a plea agreement to a second-time offense and 120 days in jail, when I was able to lay everything out for the judge, they agreed with me that the prior DUI in New Hampshire could not be used against my client, which means the 120 days suddenly turned into two days in jail. I was able to get my client a substantial deviation from what originally the prosecutor wanted to. Knowing what you’re doing in that case made all the difference; most attorneys would have just noted that the client had a prior out of New Hampshire and the prosecutor wants to use it again, so we’re dealing with a second-time offense, which means that client may have spent four months in jail, if not more.
Can An Out-of-state DUI Cause a Bad Domino Effect in Someone’s Life?
Any DUI has an impact on people’s lives, although most people can overcome the first one and the second one, if it is charged as a misdemeanor. The point of DUI convictions and the reason why they tend to be so harsh is because society wants to teach that person a lesson. It is a lot cheaper to just get a cab and many places now have Uber. It will be a lot cheaper to find a way home other than driving drunk or impaired by any type of drugs or medications or alcohol.
It’s a huge punishment and it’s intended for people to learn their lesson. Some people don’t ever learn their lesson; I was in court when a guy was facing his ninth conviction for DUI, at which point, it was a felony, aggravated DUI charge and the judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison, even though the only problem he ever had was with drinking and driving; he never got into an accident or hurt someone, he just refused to learn his lesson so, at about 50 years old, he received a 30-year prison sentence, just because he just would not stop drinking and getting behind the wheel. That’s an extreme example, but obviously, it’s possible to completely ruin your life even if you physically hurt no one other than yourself.
Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle who is impaired is putting other people in danger and we see that too often; in the news, we hear about people who are killed by drunk drivers. Two weeks ago, there was a story in the news of a 14-year old who was driving drunk and got into an accident, severely injuring three occupants; I don’t recall if one of them was killed. This is a 14-year old who isn’t even allowed to drive, yet they’re driving drunk and got into an accident and severely injured, if not killed, people.
There are reasons why DUI charges are so harsh. It’s meant to teach people a lesson, not ruin their lives, but as people keep doing it, it’s meant to be harsher and more severe, If people won’t learn their lesson, they will literally spend more than half their lifetime in prison.
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