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Man sentenced to 25 years in prison for fourth offense DWI

A first DWI/DUI is frightening. A second or third is even more difficult. After that, any subsequent drunk driving arrests in Louisiana can be downright devastating and have even more long-term impacts. With serious penalties on the line, it is important to consult with a defense attorney who has experience representing people charged with repeat drunk driving offenses.

Last June, a 54-year-old man was driving on Heavens Drive in Mandeville when he allegedly rear-ended a vehicle waiting to turn. When the police arrived on the scene, an officer apparently noted the smell of alcohol on the man's breath. He reportedly failed a standard field sobriety test and was sent to jail. As it turned out, this was not his first DWI. He was charged with fourth-offense DWI, which turned out to be his fourth drunk driving conviction in the metro New Orleans area since 1998.

Actually, the defendant had more than four DWI convictions at that point. However, a number of them did not occur in Louisiana, and state law classifies any DWI cases after the third simply as "fourth and subsequent" offenses. The defendant had even served time behind bars for fatally injuring someone in an alcohol-related accident in Texas years ago.

In February, the defendant presented his case in front of a six-person jury. The jurors ultimately found him guilty of fourth offense DWI. Under the law, the punishment for this conviction is between 10 to 30 years in prison.

This week, the defendant learned his punishment in a Covington courtroom. The judge ordered him to serve 25 years in prison and also recommended substance abuse treatment.

Repeat DWI/DUI cases present specific challenges. Therefore, anyone charged with this type of drunk driving offense should speak with an attorney who can ensure his or her side of the story gets told and his or her rights are protected.

Source: nola.com, "Repeat DWI offender with past manslaughter conviction gets long prison sentence in St. Tammany," Ramon Antonio Vargas, 26 May 2011

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