Some Prior Convictions Cant Be Used to Enhance Dui Sentences

One of the major concerns for individuals who have been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated is how their past could affect their future. Drunk driving is a much more common charge than many people think and a mistake can be made more than once by even the most upstanding New Jersey residents. Prosecutors often use past convictions in the attempt to enhance a sentence term.

Although prosecutors are quick to try to use a defendant’s past, it doesn’t mean that all prior incidents or even convictions can be used to enhance a sentence. For instance, take a recent case involving drunk driving convictions from two separate jurisdictions.

The case in this instance involves a 39-year-old man who was taken into custody in 2010 when he totaled his vehicle in Lincoln, Nebraska. The man was later convicted for driving under the influence at the time of the accident. During sentencing in 2011, the prosecution entered into evidence three prior convictions, one of which occurred in Colorado. These convictions were used to enhance his sentence to a term of three to five years of incarceration.

The defendant appealed the sentence in both the district court and a court of appeals. The case eventually reached the Nebraska Supreme Court. Here, the court ruled that the elements required for conviction under the two state laws differed and thus a conviction for DWAI in Colorado could not be used to enhance a DUI sentence in Nebraska.

While it may not seem like a case involving Colorado and Nebraska would matter to our New Jersey residents, the issue is one that involves multiple jurisdictions — and this issue is universal. An incident in any of the 50 states could later have an effect in New Jersey. When that happens, an individual charged will certainly be concerned with any jurisdiction involved.

Source: Journal Star, “Court: Colorado case can’t count toward Lincoln DUI sentence,” Jan. 25, 2013

Our Morristown DWI defense team works hard to minimize the repercussions of a drunk driving charge. Visit our website to learn more information about alcohol-related offenses in New Jersey.

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