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Understanding The Mandatory Minimums

Mandatory Minimums

It is a well known fact that the penalties for a DUI charge are serious and could result in fines, house arrest, ignition interlock devices, suspended or revoked licenses, community services, imprisonment, etc.. and not to mention substantial court fees.

Due to the fact that a DUI charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony, the penalties can vary from minimal to strict, and be handed in relation to aggravating factors. These are factors that could "worsen" the severity of your offense, and end in a harsher penalty. An example would be that of repeat offenders, or cases regarding alcohol related accidents and/or deaths.

Aside from these offenses, or even if your case is lessened to a certain degree, there are still some penalties you may be subject to face without protestation. The majority of states have set a standard of minimum mandatory penalties that cannot be dodged, except in the case that the charge of DUI is completely dropped. These mandatory minimums can be imposed upon a defendant on their own, or added in addition to a harsher penalty due to the law.

For example, if a person is driving drunk in a state that has a law that sanctions time in jail for drunk driving, regardless of BAC level or other factors, they will most definitely serve jail time. The mandatory minimums can vary in nature between states, and not all states have them. In Florida, the mandatory minimum for a DUI offense constitutes the driver to serve 6 months in probation, be subject to a $250 fine, take part in a DUI class, have an immobilization device placed on their automobile for 10 days, and also pay the court fees that are entitled. This is just one example of mandatory minimum sentencing one can endure, they may be tougher and include more penalties in different states.

Supporters of mandatory minimums state that these laws can help promote a "no tolerance" approach to dealing with DUI charges. They can help show society that drunk driving is unacceptable by any means regardless of first time offenses, to set an example for people to avoid drinking and driving altogether. The opposing parties argue that these mandatory minimum penalties do not allow for a "fair" penalization of a person relative to the severity of the crime committed and basis of character.

Again, the supporters argue that the crime alone is severe regardless of details surrounding it. It is a much heated debate that seems to go nowhere, but mandatory minimums are a nightmare for DUI attorneys that are here to stay, and may appear in more states over time. Certain organizations such as M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) have petitioned in the past that mandatory minimums include the automatic installation of ignition interlock devices in vehicles of all drunk driving offenders.

This is an issue that state legislators have even proposed, and are actually imposed in some states already. The key is that all supporters of mandatory minimums are looking to put an end to DUI offenses, and create a brick wall for DUI defense attorneys to challenge.

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