Q & A: What is the 10-yr look back period for DUIs?

A prospective client recently contacted me with the following facts.

“I have had 3 previous DUIs in the past.  I incurred two DUI’s in 2001 within months of each other. I was granted ARD for the first one (before I got the 2nd one), and I got another a few months later.  They revoked my ARD and resentenced me on the first DUI, and sentenced me on the 2nd DUI on the same day in August 2003.  I got another DUI after that and plead guilty in 2004.  I got another DUI in 2/13, and the district attorney is charging me with a 4th offense DUI.  Why is the DA calling this my fourth offense?” 

In PA, the mandatory minimum punishments for a DUI depend on how many DUI convictions you’ve had in the past ten years and how intoxicated you were this time.  The dates that matter here are date of offense and date of conviction.  The ten-year look back begins on the date of the current offense; not the date you were charged, were sentenced, or were convicted, but the date the DUI occurred.

The dates that matter for calculating prior offenses are conviction dates, meaning the dates you either plead guilty or were found guilty by a judge or jury.  So the fact that the client was charged with prior DUIs in 2001 doesn’t matter.  What matters is that he was convicted of them sometime in 2003.

So if he got a DUI in February of this year, any DUI conviction he received between February 2003 and February 2013 counts as a prior conviction.  Based on the dates he provided, that’s how the DA is charging this as a fourth offense in ten years.

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