Criminal law in America seems to treat recidivism (subsequent convictions for like crimes), harshly. A good example of this is the Kansas law dealing with DUIs, K.S.A. 8-1567. Prior convictions of the same conduct result in an extremely difference classification and sentence. Below is a summary of how prior DUI convictions affect a current DUI charge.

DUI convictions under Section 8-1567

K.S.A. 8-1567 outlines the four different classifications and their respective sentences for DUIs based on previous DUI convictions. All of these classifications require the prosecuting attorney’s office to prove the same elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The state can prove that the person drove a vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08 (including up to three hours after driving) or the person was too intoxicated by drugs or alcohol to safely drive the motor vehicle. The evidence of prior convictions will come into play during sentencing if the state can prove their allegations. When filing the charge, the state must give notice to what classification they are seeking. As the Kansas Supreme Court held in State v. Larson, if the state fails to provide this notice, they will be limited to the lowest sentencing range.

However, not all convictions will apply under 8-1567. Any conviction which is under the statute itself will be considered at sentencing. Convictions for injury-causing crimes (manslaughter or aggravated battery) involving intoxicated driving or refusing to take a breath test, will also be counted. If multiple convictions happen on a single case, only one conviction will be counted. Sometimes, depending on a variety of factors, out-of-state convictions and municipal convictions for DUIs may not apply. Finally, convictions before July 1, 2001, aren’t considered at sentencing. This date is specifically set by the statute; therefore, it is not a time limit based on a person’s conduct. This means as each year passes, older and older DUI convictions will count at sentencing.

No Previous Convictions

If no prior DUI convictions apply to your case, the charge will be classified as a Class B nonperson misdemeanor. The sentencing range for this crime is 2 days to 6 months in jail. The court could impose 100 hours of community service instead of the jail time. The fine will range between $750 and $1000. House arrest is also available but only after the individual has served 48 hours in jail.

One Previous Conviction

A second DUI charge will be elevated to a Class A nonperson misdemeanor. The possible jail sentence ranges from 90 days to 1 year, with a mandatory minimum of 5 days. The fine will range between $1250 and $1750. Probations, suspension of sentence, or parole are not available until after the 5 days are served. Work-release and house arrest programs are also available for a second DUI.

Two Previous Convictions

There are two possible classifications for a third DUI charge. The difference relies upon if any conviction is older that 10 years. If the third DUI comes more than 10 years after an individual’s release from jail on a prior DUI, this third DUI will be classified as a Class A nonperson misdemeanor. The sentencing ranges will be between 90 days and 1 year with a possible fine of $1750 to $2500. House arrest, probation, parole, or suspension of the sentence will not be available until after the 90 days. Work-release will be available during these 90 days but the person will only be able to leave for work.

If both the prior convictions were within the last 10 years, this third offense will be “bumped up” and be classified as a nonperson felony charge. The sentencing and fine ranges are the same as above, but house arrest is only granted after the 90 days are served. The main difference between these two isn’t the jail time but rather the felony classification. A person with a felony conviction will experience several negative repercussions. A few examples are loss of firearm rights, difficulty in getting certain jobs, etc. A felony conviction is commonly treated harsher than a misdemeanor conviction.

Three or More Previous Convictions.

Any DUI which is the fourth or beyond will be classified as a nonperson felony. The sentence range is 90 days to one year, and a fine of $2500. No suspension of sentence, probation, or parole are available until after 90 days have been served. House arrest and work release are available for these sentences. Upon completion of the sentence, the court could impose additional supervision requirements for one year on the defendant. These requirements will attempt to prevent the individual from drinking and driving in the future and could include alcohol treatment or ignition interlock devices.

Multiple DUI convictions can quickly result in elevated sentencing and classification. Identical conduct will be punished with much stricter sentences and fines just because of the prior convictions. It can be hard to determine which convictions can be counted under the statute and if any options besides jail time exist. You should contact an experienced attorney to ensure that a sentence isn’t unjustly imposed against you just because of some bad prior mistakes.