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Many states have something called a "washout period" for people convicted at a DUI trial. The period varies from state to state, but the washout period is basically the length of time when another drunk driving offense is considered a second or third offense. After this time is up, the original conviction "drops off" and any new DUI incidents are treated as a first offense.
Some states keep that first offense on the books a long time. The California washout period is 10 years, calculated from the date of the first offense to the date of the second. If you find yourself in need of a California DUI lawyer, one of the first things a competent lawyer will do is check to see if you are affected by the washout period. Be sure to mention that you want these dates checked, no matter what state you live in.
I live in Mississippi and was arrested for DUI in August 2006. I had a prior DUI conviction in 2000. Mississippi has a five year "washout" rule so I was saved by 11 months of being charged with second DUI. DUIs are scary and I would not recommend have a couple glasses of wine ( like I did ) and driving. I am fighting my case, but I have a feeling that it is a lost cause. I hope my attorney can do something ( as he is very expensive) but they are there normally to soften the blow. It is hard to beat a DUI rap. Just glad this is considered my first offense again. I can't afford to spend anytime in jail for having a couple of glasses of wine. Bottom line.. don't drink anything alcoholic and drive. They will get you. This was a roadblock which I feel is unconstitutional.