PA Supreme Court Rules On Issue Critical To Mandatory Sentences For Repeat DUI
On November 20, 2019, The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided the case of Commonwealth v Mock. The Defendant in the case committed a DUI on June 3, 2006, which resulted in a conviction on March 27, 2007. More than ten years after committing this offense, but roughly nine years following his conviction, the Defendant committed another DUI on July 10, 2016.
Pennsylvania law requires that those convicted of second and subsequent DUI offenses be subject to increased penalties. The penalties include increased mandatory periods of incarceration, fines, and suspension of driving privileges. In order to be subject to the increased penalties, the offender must have committed the current offense within ten years of any previous offenses. At issue in the case was the calculation of this ten year lookback period and its relation to the definition of “prior offense”.
The Defendant in the case argued that based on Section 3806 of The Vehicle Code, the “lookback” period was calculated by starting at the date of the current offense and looking back to the date of the previous offense thus putting him outside the ten year lookback. On the other hand, the prosecution argued that the lookback period was calculated by starting at the date of the current offense and looking back to the conviction date of the prior offense, rather than the date that the offense took place. The prosecution’s definition, if correct, would subject the Defendant to increased penalties as a recidivist offender.
Section 3806(a) defines the term “prior offense” as any conviction for which judgment of sentence has been imposed prior to the sentencing on the present violation. Subsection (b) further states that the prior offense must have occurred within 10 years prior to the date of the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced.
In a split decision, The Supreme Court ultimately agreed with the prosecution that the prior offense date is defined as the date of conviction, rather than the date of the occurrence of the offense. It was therefore ruled that the ten year lookback period was properly calculated by starting from the occurrence date of the present offense to the conviction date of the earlier offense. As a result, the Defendant was subject to the increased penalties of a recidivist DUI offender.
The penalties resulting from a DUI conviction can have a profound effect on your life and livelihood. If you find yourself facing driving under the influence or criminal charges, the possibility of a driver’s license suspension or any other legal issue you can Count on Mooney to protect your rights, protect your reputation and to protect your name. With 15 offices spread throughout Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland, we bring our law firm close to you. Contact us today for a consultation at 833-MOONEYLAW.