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DUI sentencing is not always predictable

In all 50 states, adult drivers are considered legally intoxicated if they have a blood-alcohol concentration at or above 0.08 percent. As it turns out, that is one of the only nationwide consistencies in drunk driving laws.

Each state has unique DUI laws, including penalties for first-time offenders and repeat offenders. Generally speaking, penalties increase with subsequent DUI convictions, and may escalate to years in prison and a permanent loss of one's license. However, even that pattern is not always consistent, as a recent case demonstrates.

National news outlets have reported on a rather unusual drunk driving case in Texas. Recently, after being convicted of his ninth DUI offense, a 56-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison. He will need to serve at least 30 years before being eligible for parole.

A DUI sentence of life in prison is not unprecedented, but it is unusual. What makes the case truly stand out, however, is the history of sentences the defendant has faced for previous convictions. Although he has previously served time in jail for drunk driving, he still had a valid driver's license at the time of his ninth offense. It is a major leap to impose a life sentence on a repeat offender when certain lesser measures may not have been taken first.

Whether you have been charged with DUI here in Virginia or in any other state, you deserve to be treated fairly and reasonably by the criminal justice system. An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure that your rights are protected as you seek to resolve your criminal charges.

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