DUI Second Offense: Everything You Need To Know (2024)

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Drunk driving charges are always very serious, but a DUI second offense can come with much harsher penalties than a first offense.

Many states have strict mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders, so it’s important to be prepared for the potential consequences and to understand your legal rights.

Here’s what you need to know.

Timing of Repeat Offenses

In many states, you will be considered to have committed a DUI second offense only if it happens within a certain number of years after the first offense. If decades have passed, your initial DUI offense may no longer count against you for purposes of the charges you face or the sentence you receive.

That’s why it’s important to understand what your state’s rules are for the DUI look-back period. .

Look-Back Periods

DUI look-back periods are the length of time that your past drunk driving conviction counts against you for purposes of determining if a new offense counts as a second offense.

Look-back periods could be as little as five years in some states. In others, there is no limit on the length of time that an offense will count. Ten years is a very common look-back period, though, and applies in a variety of U.S. States, including California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Many states also impose different look-back periods for a second offense versus a third or subsequent offense. For example, in Delaware, the look-back period is 10 years for a second offense but there’s a lifetime look-back period used to determine if you have committed three or more DUI crimes.

It’s important to understand what your state’s rules are if you are potentially facing charges for a DUI second offense as the timing can matter a great deal in determining if you’re subject to harsher penalties for repeat offenders.

Aggravated Second DUI

When you are accused of driving under the influence, certain aggravating factors can make your situation worse.

A prior DUI conviction is one of these aggravating factors in some states. Others include drunk driving in an accident that causes injuries, a BAC above a certain higher threshold such as 0.16 instead of 0.08, or driving drunk with a young person in the vehicle.

If you are accused of an aggravated second DUI, you can expect to face harsher penalties. In many states, an aggravated second DUI is considered a felony offense versus a misdemeanor offense.


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Felony vs. Misdemeanor

While first offense DUI charges are almost always misdemeanor, a second DUI offense is much more likely to lead to felony charges.

Felonies are more serious crimes with harsher penalties. You could face a longer jail sentence and larger fines. When you undergo a background check in the future, a felony offense could cause more problems than a misdemeanor in terms of things like getting a job or renting an apartment.

Felonies also can lead to the loss of voting rights and the loss of your second amendment rights.

Penalties for a DUI Second Offense

Penalties for a second DUI vary by state and depend whether you were charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

But they are always going to be more serious than for a first drunk driving conviction. Some of the potential penalties that you could be looking at for a second offense include:

  • Larger fines than for a first offense
  • A longer jail sentence than for a first offense
  • A longer suspension of your license
  • Mandatory attendance at an alcohol treatment program
  • A requirement you participate in an ignition interlock program and have a device installed on your vehicle that detects whether you are intoxicated before the car can be started

Remember, whether you are subject to these harsher penalties or not is going to depend on whether the second arrest for drunk driving occurred within your state’s look-back period.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

One big difference between a second DUI offense and a first offense is that you are more likely to face mandatory minimum penalties and those penalties are likely to be harsher.

When you are subject to mandatory minimum penalties, the judge assigned to your case loses some discretion. If you are convicted, you will at least be sentenced to the minimum penalties imposed under the law.

For example, in Pennsylvania, if you have one prior drunk driving offense and you are accused of general impairment (which means your BAC was undetermined or was between 0.08 and 0.099%), penalties include:

  • A 12-month suspension of your license
  • Between five days and six months of jail time
  • A fine of $300 to $2,500
  • Require attendance at alcohol highway safety school
  • A one year ignition interlock device

These are much harsher penalties than with a first offense, which includes up to six months of probation, a $300 fine, and mandatory attendance at highway safety school.

With these mandatory minimums in place, you will be forced to go to jail for at least five days along with these other consequences if you are found guilty of a DUI second offense.

Second DUI Penalties by State

The second DUI penalties that you are looking at can vary substantially by state, but it is common to see a minimum of around five days in jail, along with a one-year license suspension and a one-year ignition interlock requirement. Some states imposed mandatory minimums that are even more strict, though, while others are more lenient.

Ultimately, the best way to determine the specific second DUI penalties where you live is to check the website of your local department of motor vehicles or to speak with an attorney.

A drunk driving lawyer can help you to understand the look-back period that applies so you can determine if you will be charged with a DUI second offense. Your attorney can also help you to understand potential consequences and can work with you to develop a strategy to fight the charges so you can minimize the long-term damage to your future.

Since a second DUI offense is so serious, you should get legal help ASAP upon being accused of driving impaired for the second time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is considered a second DUI offense?

A second DUI offense occurs when you are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and you already have a past conviction for a similar crime. The prior offense must have occurred within your state’s look-back period. Look-back periods often last 10 years, although they could be as little as five years or as long as your entire life.

What are the penalties for a second DUI offense?

Penalties for a second DUI offense tend to be more serious than for a first offense. You will often face mandatory minimum sentences that require you to serve at least a few days of jail time and that require the suspension of your license for at least 12 months. It is also likely you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.

Is jail time mandatory for a second DUI?

Jail time is mandatory in many states for a second DUI offense. For example, in Pennsylvania, you must serve a minimum of five days in jail if you are convicted of a second drunk driving offense. You will need to check the laws in the state where your DUI took place to determine if there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence.

DUI Second Offense: Everything You Need To Know (2024)


Is there any possible way to get around jail time for your 2nd DUI? ›

Even if you get a conviction, you have multiple options to avoid jail time for a second DUI. Some people can get an alternative to a jail sentence. Probation is one alternative, and the court reviews the defendant's case to see if they qualify. The judge looks at the person's overall driving record and moral character.

How to avoid jail time for 2nd DUI in PA? ›

Jail time increases to at least 30 days for a second offense of a high rate of alcohol and at least 90 days for a second offense of the highest rate of alcohol. The best way to avoid jail time is to either beat the charges or receive an alternative sentence. An alternative sentence would be something like probation.

How to avoid jail time for 2nd DUI in CT? ›

Avoiding jail time if convicted of a second or third DUI is virtually impossible because Connecticut has mandatory minimum sentencing, which may not be suspended or reduced in any manner by the Judge. Once a convicted person is sent to prison, the Commissioner of Corrections can grant early release.

How to avoid jail time for 2nd DUI in California? ›

Under California Penal Code (CPC) §2900.5, there are alternatives to jail time for most felony or misdemeanor offenses, whether by plea or verdict. For DUIs, this means that you could do house arrest or rehab in lieu of jail time.

Can you get restricted license after 2nd DUI in California? ›

Unfortunately, drivers facing a second time DUI offense in California who also refused to submit to a chemical test will face much harsher punishment. These individuals face a two-year license revocation and are not entitled to a restricted license during any part of the suspension period.

Can I get a Class A license with 2 DUI in California? ›

More than One DUI Conviction – Lifetime Ban on CDL in California. If you are convicted of two DUIs in California, you will be banned from applying for a CDL in California. This includes DUI convictions from other states.

Is jail time mandatory for 2nd DUI in PA? ›

For a 2nd DUI Offense, you are facing a 5-day mandatory minimum sentence for a lowest tier, a 30-day mandatory minimum sentence for a high tier, or a 90-day mandatory minimum for a highest tier offense.

How long do you lose your license for a 2nd DUI in PA? ›

BAC greater than or equal to . 16%: 12 month license suspension for first offense. 18 month suspension for second or subsequent offense.

How long do you go to jail for a second DUI in PA? ›

Minimum mandatory 30 days in jail up to six months. Fine ranging from $750 to $5,000. Suspension of your license for 12 months. Alcohol Highway Safety School.

Can you get a CDL with a DUI in CT? ›

If convicted of DUI, a CDL license is automatically suspended for a year. In addition, if the DUI is received while driving hazardous materials, the license is automatically suspended for three years.

Is your license suspended immediately after a DUI in CT? ›

In most cases, the mandatory 45-day driver's license suspension—during which you cannot drive—will begin 30 days after the arrest date. The license suspension is based on the arrest information. It is also separate from any penalties or requirements that may be imposed as a result of the court case.

How do you get a DUI dismissed in CT? ›

The Pre-Trial impaired driver education program (also known as IDIP or IDIP program) is a court diversionary program that provides first time DUI offenders who have been arrested for a DUI offense an opportunity to complete alcohol education classes and have their charges dismissed.

How long does a second DUI stay on your record in California? ›

DUI On Your Driving Record

Law enforcement officers and the DMV can view the infraction on your record for ten years in California. After that, provided you have no further drunk driving convictions, it will no longer appear on your driving record.

Is 2 DUI a felony in California? ›

In California, a second DUI offense within ten years of the first offense is generally not considered a felony. Instead, it is usually classified as a misdemeanor with increased penalties compared to a first-time DUI conviction. However, under certain circumstances, a second DUI can be elevated to a felony charge.

Is jail time mandatory for DUI in California? ›

In California, jail time is practically mandatory for people convicted of a DUI. Even if it is your first offense and no one was injured, a judge can sentence you to six months in jail.

What happens after 2 DUI in California? ›

According to California law, your second DUI offense is punishable by three to five years of summary probation, up to 30 months of DUI school, fines and penalties assessments from $390 to $2,000, and no less than 96 hours in jail. Additional penalties include license suspension and ignition interlock devices.

How do I get a hardship license in California? ›

To apply for a hardship license, you must complete an application that will be submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Then, you make a payment of $125 for the reissuing of the license.

How long do you lose your license for a DUI in California? ›

Driving under the influence (DUI): Your license will be suspended for six months if you get a DUI conviction. California has very strict DUI laws. If you get another DUI conviction, your license can be revoked for two to four years.

Can you drive after a DUI in California? ›

First offense: A 1-year suspension or 2-year revocation, if on DUI probation. Second offense: Within 10 years of a separate violation of DUI, will result in a 2-year revocation or 3-year revocation, if on DUI probation.

Can I be a pilot with 2 DUI? ›

For a pilot's second or subsequent DUI conviction or alcohol-related suspension, the FAA will almost certainly suspend or revoke his or her license. Medical certification will also be more difficult to obtain.

How long does a DUI stay on your record in California? ›

Generally speaking, it remains on your driving record for up to 10 years and is viewable by the DMV and law enforcement during that time. The other good news is that a DUI conviction on your driving record does NOT show on most background checks.

Can you buy a gun after a DUI in PA? ›

Yes, a single DUI conviction will not prevent you from buying a gun in Pennsylvania. However, if you've been convicted of three or more DUIs in the past five years, you will be prohibited from buying a gun.

What happens if you get a second DUI while on probation in CA? ›

For a second DUI in California the jail time is required as a condition of all convictions even when you are placed on probation after a conviction. Any DUI conviction or even arrest can be a frightening experience because of the consequences it will have on your driver's license, work, family and even freedom.

Can you get a 2nd DUI expunged in PA? ›

A second offense DUI cannot be expunged for a second or third DUI like the record could be expunged for a first DUI after the ARD diversionary program.

How do I get a DUI off my driving record in PA? ›

How to Get a DUI Expunged
  1. Completing a criminal history request form.
  2. Obtaining proof of completion of the ARD program.
  3. Requesting a petition or motion for expungement through the clerk of courts.
  4. Submitting a notarized affidavit that you are providing accurate information to the court.

How do I get my license back after a DUI in PA? ›

Driver's License Reinstatement in Pennsylvania

Once your driver's license suspension period is over, you will be able to apply for DUI license reinstatement in Pennsylvania. You will need to pay a fine, pay reinstatement fees, provide SR22 insurance for 3 years, and attend alcohol treatment.

What is a high tier DUI in PA? ›

If you are arrested for a DUI and your Blood Alcohol Content or BAC is measured at . 16% or higher, you will be charged in the highest tier, and thus face harsher consequences. In addition, the more subsequent DUIs you have on your record, the worse your situation becomes.

What is the second time offender program in PA? ›

The ASP program is an intermediate punishment program for second time DUI offenders. The goal of the ASP program is to protect the public by ensuring incarceration and intensive supervision of second time DUI offenders, while allowing offenders to maintain employment and receive necessary alcohol treatment.

What is the look back period for a DUI in PA? ›

Pennsylvania has a 10-year "lookback" period for prior DUI convictions, meaning that if you're arrested for driving under the influence within 10 years of a prior DUI conviction, you can receive harsher consequences than you would for a first-time driving under the influence conviction.

What does 2 counts of DUI mean in PA? ›

A second DUI conviction where the driver was convicted based on impairment or having a BAC of . 08% or more but less than . 1% is a misdemeanor. A convicted driver is looking at $300 to $2,500 in fines, five days to six months in jail, and a 12-month license suspension.

Can you get a CDL with 2 DUI in PA? ›

Please see Pennsylvania DUI First Offense and Pennsylvania DUI Second Offense for more details. A first time conviction will result in a 1 year suspension of a CDL license (3 years if it was in a HAZMAT vehicle). A second conviction will result in a LIFETIME CDL ban.

Can you get a DUI expunged in CT? ›

In Connecticut, an expungement – or clearing of a criminal record – is referred to as a pardon. There are two types of pardons available: an absolute pardon and a provisional pardon. In most cases, people with a DUI conviction can have it removed from their record through an absolute pardon.

How long does a DUI stay on your record in the state of Connecticut? ›

Typically, a DUI will stay on your driving record in Connecticut for 10 years, and can negatively impact your insurance rates for at least 3-5 years after the incident. There is typically not much that can be done to remove a DUI charge from your driving record.

What is the penalty for a second DUI in CT? ›

A second offender DUI in Connecticut is a felony that carries up to 2 years of jail time, 120 days of which are mandatory minimum.

Can you refuse a field sobriety test in CT? ›

There is no legal penalty for refusing to take the field sobriety tests. There is no penalty against your driver's license for refusing to take the field sobriety tests. By not taking the tests, you are protecting yourself against evidence that could be used against you in court.

Should you refuse a breathalyzer CT? ›

Refusing a Breathalyzer is not a crime in Connecticut, but it can result in serious penalties. When you refuse a breath test, your driver's license is automatically revoked. Additionally, you may still face criminal charges for DUI/DWI or other traffic violations.

Is DUI a felony in CT? ›

Is a DUI a Felony in CT? Traditionally, a first DUI is not a felony in Connecticut. What constitutes a felony DUI in CT is when the penalty is more than two years. Therefore, a second DUI offense within 10 years is a felony, as well as third and subsequent DUI offenses.

Does Connecticut accept online DUI classes? ›

Attention: The state of Connecticut does not accept any “online DUI classes” as a means to satisfying the Connecticut Courts, Probation, or DMV for anyone who received a DUI in the state of Connecticut. You will need to attend a local class in person.

Is DUI a misdemeanor in CT? ›

In Connecticut, the first offense DUI is considered an unclassified misdemeanor. But, every DUI offense after the first one is a felony. The penalties for felony DUI include serious fines, jail time, license suspension, and having an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle.

Can I go to Canada with a DUI? ›

If you've been convicted of driving while impaired, you may be inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality. This means that you generally can't enter Canada. If that's the case, there are options for you to enter Canada temporarily, or to become admissible again.

How much does it cost to get a DUI expunged in California? ›

Misdemeanor Expungements $900* Misdemeanor DUI Expungement $1,075. Felony Expungement $1,200* (includes a reduction to a misdemeanor when eligible) Sealing of Juvenile or Diversion Records: $3,500.

How long does DUI affect insurance in California? ›

Your DUI adds two “points” to your driving record and will show up for 10 years. At any time during this 10 year period, your insurer can find out about the charge and raise your rates for three years.

How many points is a 2nd DUI in California? ›

A DUI or Wet Reckless on your DMV driver's record in California results in 2 points on your license. You cannot go to traffic school for a DUI in California.

What are the new DUI laws in California? ›

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

0.08% or higher if you are over 21 years old. 0.01% or higher if you are under 21 years old. 0.01% or higher at any age if you are on DUI probation. 0.04% or higher if you drive a vehicle that requires a commercial driver's license.

How long do I need an ignition interlock device in California? ›

How long will I have to maintain the IID? If you were convicted of a DUI that involved alcohol, and this was your first offense that resulted in injury or a repeat offense, then you will be required to install and maintain an IID for a period ranging from 1-4 years.

How can I avoid jail time for a DUI in California? ›

There are often ways to avoid jail time if convicted of a DUI in California. One of the most common ways to avoid jail time is to participate in jail alternative programs. Probation is generally available for 1st time offenders with no aggravating factors.

How often do DUI cases go to trial in California? ›

A very small percentage of DUI cases go to trial in California. Most cases settle through plea bargains. However, you should treat your drunk driving charge as if it is going to trial by hiring an experienced San Jose DUI defense lawyer.

Can I avoid jail time for 2nd DUI Colorado? ›

Driving while under the influence is a crime, so drivers will face both criminal and administrative penalties. If you're convicted of a 2nd DUI in Colorado, the consequences are significant. With a first-time conviction, jail time is a possibility, but with a second DUI, it is mandatory.

Is jail time mandatory for 2nd DUI in NC? ›

If found guilty of a level three DWI, for a second offense DWI in NC, you face the following penalties: Fines of up to $1,000. Three days to six months in jail. If the term of imprisonment is suspended, you will be required to perform at least 72 hours of community service and serve 12 months of probation.

What happens on 2nd DWI in Arkansas? ›

2nd offense = 24-month suspension (if 2nd offense was within a 5-year time span). 3rd offense = 30-months suspension (if 3rd offense was within a 5-year time span). 4th offense = 4-year revocation (if 4th offense was within a 5-year time span)

How long do you lose your license for 2nd DUI in Colorado? ›

The penalties for a second DUI may include up to one year in jail, fines up to $1,500, suspension of driver's license for one year, community service up to 120 hours, probation up to four years, and the requirement to attend education (either alcohol or drug) classes.

Is there a washout period for DUI in Colorado? ›

Colorado has no strict or specific washout or lookback period for DUI convictions. In other words, the court could look at your past DUI conviction records as far as they go back in determining your punishment for a current DUI charge. Any DUI conviction over your lifetime could be relevant in future DUI cases.

Do a second and any subsequent DUI offenses require a minimum 90 days in jail in the state of Arizona? ›

The penalties for a second offense DUI conviction are up to 90 days in jail, which can be reduced to a 30-day jail sentence with the completion of alcohol screening. An offender may also be required to pay a minimum of $3,000 in fines, attend driving school, and do a minimum of 30 hours of community service.

How long do you lose your license for 2nd DUI in NC? ›

After being convicted of a second DWI within a three-year period, the offender's driver's license is revoked for four years. The offender may petition the court for a limited driving privilege, which will allow the offender to drive under limited circumstances, such as for work, and only during certain times.

What happens after 2nd DUI in North Carolina? ›

The most common administrative penalty for a DWI offense is driver's license revocation. If you are convicted of your second DWI within three years, you may face a license suspension of four years.

What is a Level 5 DUI in North Carolina? ›

As the least severe form of the crime, a DWI Level 5 means the defendant was driving with too much alcohol or impairing drugs in their system, but the incident did not result in any aggravating factors, or if the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors.


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