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.

Is jail mandatory for 2nd DUI Michigan? ›

The law in Michigan states that Operation While Intoxicated 2nd Offense is punishable by: A fine of between $200.00 and $1000.00 and one or more of the following: Imprisonment of 5 Days -1 Year. Community Service of 30-90 Days.

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

California is one of the strictest states when it comes to the consequences of DUI's, including getting a commercial driver's license. Two DUI's results in a lifetime ban on applying for a CDL. There is no way around it.

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

The DMV will require you to file an SR22 form in order to obtain a restricted license or to fully reinstate your license following your suspension period. You may be required to maintain your SR22 with the California DMV for a period of 3-years from the date of having your license reinstated.

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. Out-of-state DUI convictions: No suspension for first offense; 12 month license suspension for second or subsequent offense.

How long do you go to jail 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.

What is the max sentence for a second DUI in PA? ›

Penalties for a second DUI offense

BAC 0.10-0.159% – 30 days to 6 months jail time; $750-$5,000 fines; license suspended 12 months. BAC 0.16% and up – 90 days to 5 years imprisonment; $1,500 – $10,000 fines; license suspended for 18 months.

Will I go to jail for DUI in CT? ›

In most situations, first-time DUI offenders with no prior convictions are highly unlikely ever to face any jail time for a DUI in Connecticut. However, if aggravating circ*mstances exist, it is possible that a first-time offender could face the possibility of jail upon a conviction for DUI.

How do you get a DUI dismissed in CT? ›

If you complete the court-ordered requirements of the Impaired Driver Intervention Program, your Connecticut DUI / DWI 14-227a charges will be dismissed by the Court and effectively “erased” from your criminal arrest record.

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

Connecticut's First Offense DUI Criminal Penalties

DUI fine of $500 to $1000 dollars. Jail- 48 hours mandatory minimum, with a possible sentence of up to six months OR. Suspended six-month jail sentence with 100 hours of community service.

Can 2 DUI be expunged in Michigan? ›

One and only one. The new law only allows an expungement of a “first violation operating while intoxicated offense.” It will therefore not allow a second expungement if you have already had a previous DUI offense expunged. Consequently, if granted, your DUI expungement will be a once in a lifetime thing.

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

In the state of Michigan, a DUI conviction will stay on your record for life. A DUI in Michigan is almost always charged as a misdemeanor, but if you receive several DUI convictions, you may be declared a "habitual violator." A DUI conviction may be charged as a felony if this is your third arrest for drunk driving.

How long do you have to sit in jail for a DUI in Michigan? ›

Michigan Penalties for DUI Offenses

OWI, First Offense - up to 93 days in jail, fines of $100 to $500, 360 hours (45 days) community service, vehicle immobilization at the court's discretion, possible ignition interlock device during probation.

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

It is important to note that jail time is mandatory for a second DUI conviction. Additionally, a driving under the influence charge includes both intoxications from alcohol as well as driving under the influence of marijuana.

What happens when you get a second DUI in Iowa? ›

Under Iowa DUI law, your second DUI conviction will result in license revocation. You will lose your driving privilege because of your DUI charge. They will revoke your license for a year. However, if you refused a breath test, they may revoke your license for two years.

What happens when you get a second DUI in Washington? ›

If you are convicted of a second DUI within 7 years in Washington State the penalties include: Mandatory 30-45 days jail. House arrest for a period of 60 days after your initial jail term is finished. Up to $5,000 in fines.

How much is the fine for a 2nd 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.


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