If you already have a prior DUI conviction(s) on your record, you may be interested to know what kinds of penalties await you if you get caught drinking and driving again. Generally, states view repeat DUI offenders in a very unfavorable light, which is reflected in the elevated penalties for repeat DUIs.

Look-back periods

Most states have a look-back time period that establishes whether repeat offenses count as subsequent offenses or are treated like a first-time offense. For example, let’s assume a state has a look-back period of five years. If you are convicted of a second DUI within five years of the first one (your first counts as a prior), then your second DUI will come with higher penalties than those the first time around. However, if your second DUI conviction comes seven years after your first one, then it falls outside of the five-year look-back period, and would be treated as a first-time conviction again. Look-back periods are different from state to state. On average, they range from five to ten years. The longer they are, the worse penalties you’ll probably suffer if you’re a repeat DUI offender. Additionally, even if you had your first conviction expunged, it still counts as a prior and can be used as evidence against you in subsequent convictions.

Repeat DUI penalties

The penalties for having multiple prior DUI convictions can quickly become steep with each subsequent DUI conviction. Additionally, whereas initial DUIs are usually counted as misdemeanors if no one was hurt and there was no damage, many states start charging DUIs as felonies starting at the fourth or fifth conviction. Penalties can vary quite a bit from state to state, but here are some examples of penalties for repeat DUIs:

  • Jail: Ranges from two to three months up to a year for second/third DUIs. Can jump to a six-month minimum for fourth DUIs and after.
  • Fines: $500-$1,000 for second/third DUIs, and $1,000-$5,000 for subsequent charges or even higher.
  • License suspension: Anywhere from one to three years on average, but can reach as long as ten years in some states.
  • Alcohol treatment program: Attendance can be ordered for a period of six months up to three years or more.
  • Vehicle confiscation
  • Ignition interlock: Required for at least one year, if not longer

If an offender racks up enough multiple DUI convictions, they can start to face serious jail or even prison time because the court categorizes them as a danger to the public.