No More Weekends in DUI Cases

by Jamison Koehler on September 24, 2013

Always looking out for the best interests of clients, Michael Bruckheim has come up with a creative way for getting around the new requirement in D.C. that mandatory days of incarceration in DUI cases be served back-to-back.

According to the new law that took effect in August 2012, second-time DUI offenders who are sentenced to a mandatory-minimum period of incarceration must serve their sentences on consecutive days.  In other words, these people can no longer pay their debt to society over weekends.  At least this is the way that D.C. court have been interpreting the following language from the statute:  “The person shall not be released or granted probation, or granted suspension of sentence prior to serving the mandatory-minimum sentence.”

Pointing out that the requirement applies only at the time of sentencing, Bruckheim has suggested that defendants who are found guilty seek to have themselves (in D.C. parlance) “stepped back” on weekends pending sentencing.   Assuming that they are given credit for time-served, the requirement of consecutive days would only apply to unserved portions of the sentence then imposed.  For example:  If a defendant who was sentenced to 10 days had already 8 of those days on weekends prior sentencing, the requirement for consecutive days would only apply to the remaining two days.  And these two days, presumably, could also be served over the weekend, thereby allowing the defendant to continue to work.

Of course, getting a judge to interpret his/her authority this way is only part of the challenge.  The judge also has to want to do it.

6 Comments on “No More Weekends in DUI Cases

  1. Hello Jamison:

    I’m a little confused. It seems logical to think that if weekend days don’t count toward the number of days you have to serve you can go home. However, the statute language suggests to me that that’s not the case:

    The person shall not be released (emphasis mine) or granted probation, or granted suspension of sentence prior to serving the mandatory-minimum sentence.”

    Surely, the law doesn’t say that 2nd-time offenders have to be in prison during the weekends but they don’t get credit for that time served?

    What fundamental concept am I failing to understand?

    Thanks.

  2. Janna:

    The problem is probably on my end.

    You always get credit for any time spent in jail. This includes weekends. In the old days, however, people were able to serve their entire sentence on weekends. They would check themselves into the jail on Friday and would be released on Monday. This allowed them to work their jobs during the week.

    Under the new law, however, any sentence imposed under this section of the law needs to be served on consecutive days. This means that they can no longer serve their time JUST on weekends.

    I hope this was a little bit clearer.

  3. Thanks, Jamison. Your explanation makes perfect sense. I appreciate you taking the time to explain all this to the public.

    BTW: I don’t agree with what I posted about probable cause based on what I read from a less-than-authoritative references like Findlaw either. 🙂

    Rather than relying on sites full of Google ads, I looked up the Supreme Court ruling on a Maryland case pertaining to probable cause and a vehicle search here:

    http://www.sualaw.com/Appearances-Articles/US_-Supreme_Court_Update.pdf

    and found the following information:

    Maryland law authorizes police officers to execute warrantless arrest where the officer has probable cause to believe that a felony has been committed or is being committed in the officer’s presence

    The site indicates that a DUI is not likely to be considered a felony unless you’re blood alcohol level is .20 or higher and/or you’re a repeat offender.

    http://www.marylandduilaws.net/marylandduifelony.html

    My friend blew a .08 and had no prior history of drunk driving. Nor was there a handgun, baggie with white substance in it, or bloody clothing in plain view.

    However we’re talking about their right to search the car after pulling her over rather than their right to arrest her for drunk driving, which they had already justifiably done.

    So I’m still lost yet think the officers had probable cause to search her car. However saying, “we can do whatever we want Ma’am” was not an appropriate answer to the question, “do you have the right to search my car?”

    Of that much I am sure.

    I’m not asking for your legal opinion on this matter, Jamison. Just demonstrating that I’m putting effort into trying to figure all this out.

  4. Jamison,

    I was in Philadelphia Municipal Court today when, during a break, Judge [omitted by site administrator] mentioned your name and your blog. He had very nice things to say about it so I thought I’d check it out. It’s a great looking blog and I will start to follow it. I understand you were a PD in Philadelphia for some time and you do look familiar. I was an ADA here in Philly from 2001-2005 and I’ve been in private practice doing criminal defense work since then. Keep up the great work.

    Brian

  5. Janna:

    You might enjoy reading the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. Gant:
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-542.ZO.html

    Brian:

    I remember you very well. And I remember the judge very well too. He was firm and direct. He knew the law. He was tough as nails, holding people accountable. And he accorded respect to everyone who came into his courtroom, including the lowliest defendant.

  6. Thanks, Jamison. Regarding your comment above –

    The problem is probably on my end.

    I don’t think so. You’re just not used to explaining criminal law subjects to someone who has never been arrested/isn’t having some sort of major legal problem and therefore doesn’t know the schema regarding any aspect of the criminal justice system. 😉

    That site you recommended came up in my Google search but I didn’t gravitate toward it.

    Thanks, it sheds much light on the overall concept I was trying to figure out. It looks like my instincts were right about my friend’s situation. I doubt the officers who arrested her could seriously maintain that a woman who had not resisted arrest and had no criminal record was going to jump in her car, grab a weapon that wasn’t in plain view, and overpower them both.

    I’ll pass the link on to her. 😉

    I do love this line of reasoning from one of the Justices:

    Justice Scalia has similarly noted that, although it is improbable that an arrestee could gain access to weapons stored in his vehicle after he has been handcuffed and secured in the backseat of a patrol car, cases allowing a search in “this precise factual scenario … are legion.

    I agree with Scalia’s overall logic but not his use of the word “improbable.” I think it should be replaced with the word “impossible.” Unless you’ve arrested the Terminator, I don’t think someone handcuffed in the back of a squad car will be able to access weapons in the car you want to search.

    And there’s also no reason they’d want to or need to do that.

    Logically speaking, sending someone over to search the car of interest actually makes it more likely that the person who’s just been arrested will over-power the officer watching him/her and steal that person’s weapon or, if they’re just locked in the car, do a Houdini thing with their handcuffs and escape.

    Thanks again for the link.

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