In Illinois and many other states, people accused of driving while intoxicated face increased penalties for each subsequent offense. In other words, if they are convicted of a second DUI, they will likely receive a more significant sentence than they did for their first conviction. The issue of whether a person should be sentenced as a first or second-time offender is usually straightforward, but it can become convoluted in cases in which the defendant received alternative sentencing for a first offense but was not actually convicted, an issue recently confronted by the Pennsylvania courts. If you are charged with a second or subsequent DUI offense, it is essential to speak to an Illinois DUI defense attorney about what penalties you could potentially face if you are convicted.
Pennsylvania’s Treatment of Alternative Sentencing in DUI Cases
It is reported that Pennsylvania appellate courts recently answered a matter of first impression, which is whether a DUI defendant’s prior acceptance into a diversionary program for a DUI offense constituted a prior DUI conviction for sentencing purposes. The defendant argued that as he was not found guilty of committing a DUI crime in the first offense, it did not constitute a conviction.
Allegedly, the Pennsylvania appellate court found the defendant’s arguments unavailing and determined that acceptance into a diversionary program could be considered a prior DUI conviction. The ruling was not unanimous, however, and the dissenting justices noted that it presented concerns regarding whether the ruling could lead to violations of the constitutional right to due process of people charged with DUI crimes. It is anticipated that Pennsylvania’s highest court will take up the issue in the near future.
Illinois’ Treatment of Second and Subsequent DUI Offenses
Similar to the Pennsylvania courts, the Illinois courts have expressly held that house arrest and other alternative sentencing schemes can be used as grounds for imposing Illinois increased sentencing scheme for subsequent DUI crimes, despite the fact that they did not result in convictions. Specifically, the courts have clarified that a prior conviction of a DUI crime is not required in order to impose enhanced sentences for second and subsequent DUI offenses.
Instead, the prosecution must merely show that the defendant committed prior DUI offenses. Further, as evidence of the prior commission of a violation of the Illinois DUI statute is not an element of a crime but is grounds for enhancing a defendant’s sentence, it need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Talk to a Skilled Illinois DUI Attorney
A conviction for a DUI offense can carry substantial criminal and civil penalties, and in most instances, the penalties increase with each subsequent conviction. If you are charged with a DUI crime, and you have previous DUI convictions, it is wise to meet with an attorney to discuss your options for seeking a favorable outcome. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a trusted Illinois DUI attorney who can advise you of your rights and develop compelling arguments on your behalf to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. You can reach Mr. Harvatin at 217.525.0520 or through the form online to schedule a meeting.