DUI with Prior Conviction
Occasionally, I represent clients charged with DUI in circumstances where I am aware that there is a prior conviction, but the prior has been missed by the Prosecution and is un-charged in the Complaint. The temptation is to quickly plead to the DUI before the Prosecutor has the chance to look at the case more closely and discover the prior. This happens most commonly with out of state DUI convictions. Prior convictions in other states can easily be missed on the DMV record as they appear under different code sections. By pleading to a first offense, greater penalties for a second DUI, including jail time are avoided.
However, the court will report the conviction to the DMV and it is likely that the DMV will pick up on the prior. In these circumstances, the DMV would suspend for two years, without eligibility for reinstatement on a restricted license after a year. In addition, even though the court did not require it, the DMV would not reinstate driving privileges until they receive proof of completion of a multiple offender 18 month DUI program. This can result in a defendant having to perform a first offender and a multiple offender program.
Because of the DMV ramifications, it is sometimes better to disclose the prior and deal with it. Sometimes, Prosecutors and Judges appreciate this honest approach and give a preferential plea bargain because of it. At Gold & Witham we specialize in defending clients charged with DUI in Los Angeles and Orange County and we recognize the importance of being aware of these problems and properly advising our clients so that informed judgements can be made.