Priorable Offense and DUI Lookback Periods

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Sep 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

In Pennsylvania, driving under the influence (DUI) is an example of a “priorable” offense. This means the penalties get more severe for each successive time you are convicted for the crime.

However, different states have different “lookback periods,” or how far back in time they will search for a prior conviction.

A DUI case coming from nearby Delaware shows how these lookback periods work.

Man Arrested for Fifth DUI After Hurting Two in a Crash

Police in Delaware arrested a Sussex County native in the overnight hours of September 25, 2019, while responding to the scene of a car accident. The man had apparently rear-ended a minivan that had been stopped at a red light on Route 13.

The driver of the minivan and her 7-year-old child were hurt in the crash and brought to the hospital.

Police arrested the Sussex County man for DUI, though it was unclear whether he was over the legal limit or how police determined he was under the influence.

When the man was booked at the police department, it was discovered that he had four prior DUI convictions on his criminal record.

Priorable Offenses and Lookback Periods

priorable offense is any crime that carries higher penalties for every time you commit it. Prior convictions for these kinds of offenses are used to calculate how much worse the penalties will be for a current charge.

However, some priorable offenses do not look all the way into your past for a prior conviction. Some only look a certain distance into your past. How far they look is the lookback period.

DUI Lookback Periods Change for Each State

DUIs are priorable offenses that often use limited lookback periods.

For example, in Pennsylvania, the lookback period for DUI is 10 years. This means if you get convicted for DUI and then arrested for DUI again, that new arrest can still be considered a first DUI offense if the old conviction happened at least a decade ago.

In Delaware, though, the lookback period is different. They use a 10-year lookback period, but only for the second DUI offense. If you get arrested for a third DUI or any subsequent DUI, the lookback period becomes a lifetime one. This means that, in Delaware, if you got convicted for DUI in 1981 and then arrested again in 2000, the DUI case in 2000 would be for a “first offense DUI.” However, if you get convicted in 2000 and then arrested again in 2019, the conviction from 1981 would suddenly reappear. You could face a first, another first, and then a third offense for drunk driving.

Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph D. Lento Serves Philadelphia

Joseph D. Lento is a DUI defense and criminal defense lawyer who serves the accused in Philadelphia, including those who have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Convictions for DUI crimes can upend the course of your life and make things difficult in the long run. Call attorney Lento at (215) 535-5353 or contact him online for the help you need.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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