Do Prior Convictions Increase Mandatory Sentences?

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Ohio’s DUI statute, Section 4511.19 of the Ohio Revised Code, provides for increased mandatory penalties if the defendant has prior convictions within the preceding six year period for a drunk driving misdemeanor charge.  For example, a second conviction within six years for impaired driving under R.C. 4511.19(A) has a mandatory minimum jail term of 10 days as opposed to the 3 days if it were a first offense within six years.  The six year “look back” period runs from the date of the current offense back to the date of the prior conviction.

Many people are surprised to learn that a conviction for Operating a Vehicle After Under Age Consumption (OVAUC) counts as a prior conviction.  It comes as an even bigger surprise that a conviction for Drunk Boating, under Section 1547.11 of the Ohio Revised Code, or a similar municipal ordinance, also counts as a prior conviction for purposes of the statute.

What does not count as a “prior conviction?”  Physical Control, Reckless Operation, and just about any minor traffic offense does not count as a prior DUI conviction.  Also, an experienced DUI lawyer knows that some prior convictions for DUI, OVAUC, or drunk boating can be challenged so that they cannot be used to enhance the sentence for a pending DUI charge.

If you’ve been charged with drunk driving and you have one or more prior convictions within the past six years, contact a Knowledgeable DUI Attorney to evaluate your case.