Undeniably, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. It has affected almost every aspect of life, including the handling of DUI cases and convictions.
Generally, dealing with a DUI is a complex, lengthy, and stressful process. It’s safe to assume most people facing DUI charges are often embarrassed and scared and would want the process to be over and done with as soon as possible.
With new restrictions being implemented, many people are left wondering what the pandemic’s impact has on their DUI cases. Will there be new penalties for a DUI conviction? And what other changes have been implemented, if any?
Length of Your DUI Case
The length of a DUI case can vary from one case to another. The DUI process—from the arrest to the case resolution—can also differ dramatically. Typically, given that everything goes smoothly, the case is often resolved in four months. On average, the case length is around seven months.
Courts have been instructed to follow the guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and continuances of court dates have been granted liberally. That said, many courts are continuing dates on their own.
Since there is no time frame yet in terms of when the court system will be back to conducting business as usual, the whole process can take longer than expected. However, not every court has implemented the process, so it is recommended that you check with your attorney if there are changes in your court dates.
If you are facing a DUI charge and are worried about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your case, it is recommended that you hire a skilled attorney immediately. In most states, a DUI is a serious charge, with mandatory jail time.
If convicted, the severity of the penalty can vary. It will also depend if you are a first-time or repeat offender.
If you are a first-time DUI offender, possible penalties can include:
● Up to $1,000 in fines
● Six-month license suspension
● One year in jail
● 12 points on your driver’s license
If you are a repeat offender, you can expect a more severe sentence, depending on your case’s circumstances. You could even face felony level charges if there are enough aggravating factors. Possible penalties for repeat offenders can include:
● Up to $3,000 in fines
● Up to ten days mandatory jail time
● Up to three years in prison
● Suspension of driver’s license for 18 months
● Waiting period of 24-months to reinstate the license
● One year participation in an Ignition Interlock Program
With social distancing measures being implemented, most DUI school programs are done remotely. The online programs will allow you to complete your DUI school requirements on time, rather than waiting for the physical locations to reopen.
DMV-approved remote DUI classes will be available until the health emergency has ended. Those who want to complete the course in person will have to wait until face-to-face classes can resume. However, not all programs will offer this option.
In some states like Arizona, you are entitled to a jury trial if you face a DUI charge. However, since gathering 40 potential jurors in a room that already has a judge, defense attorney, bailiff, court staff, and prosecutor would violate the CDC guidelines, the courts opted to set new DUI jury trial dates that are several months in the future.
If anything, there is no real timeline yet on when things will be back to normal. That said, when trials will continue again, a massive backlog of cases is expected. The good thing is the court trials’ hold-up might also help your case as it will allow your attorney to try to work out a deal with the prosecutor.
When convicted with a misdemeanor DUI, you are allowed to self-surrender for your jail term. In other words, you get to pick the day you would like to report to jail. Jail time often starts in 30 days, given there are no extraordinary circumstances. Fortunately, there is a way you can get your jail start date moved beyond the 30-day mark.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinary circumstance that can warrant starting jail time beyond the start date. It is also ideal to inform the judge if you have any underlying medical conditions during the request.
Acting quickly is crucial, so make sure you inform your attorney if you have any underlying health issues. If you want to request that jail time be moved further, your attorney must file a motion so your confinement order can be modified.
There’s no denying the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the handling of DUI cases and convictions. With that in mind, it would be best to check with your attorney so you would know how the new changes can affect your case.
This is a guest post by Victoria at Ariz DUI. This post has been edited for syntax and grammar. The Law offices of Jay Leiderman is not responsible for the accuracy of the content herein or any opinions or ideas expressed herein. This post is for entertainment and literary value and is not intended as legal advice. This post does not establish an attorney-client relationship of any sort. If you have legal questions about ideas presented herein please contact a lawyer knowledgeable in this field of practice.