Drunk Driving and Double Jeopardy
Information courtesy of Lawrence Taylor - DUIblog
When a person is arrested for DUI, his drivers license is confiscated by the arresting officer and he is given a notice of "administrative suspension". He is also given a citation to appear in court to face criminal drunk driving charges. These are usually two very different procedures: (1) the administrative suspension for driving with blood-alcohol of .08%, in most states administered by its department of motor vehicles, and (2) the criminal prosecution for the two separate offenses of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and driving with .08%, which takes place in the courts.
In other words, even though he only drove once, the individual is being prosecuted for two different crimes: DUI and driving with a .08% BAC. He can even be convicted of both offenses (although he can only be punished for one). How is this possible?
It gets worse....The driver has already been punished for driving over .08% by having his license suspended by the states motor vehicle agency. If he is later convicted in the states criminal court of driving over .08% (and/or driving under the influence), he will be punished again. The sentence may involve jail, fines, DUI schools, probation -- and a restricted, suspended or revoked license. How many times can the state punish a person for a single crime?
Our Constitution says only once. The Fifth Amendment specifically provides that no person shall "be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life and limb". So is this another example of "the DUI exception to the Constitution"?
Lets first take the question of charging defendants with both DUI and .08%. The courts in the different states wrestled with this one for awhile, but eventually came to the conclusion that the driver actually commited two different crimes. As an Indiana court reasoned, "the test to be applied to determine whether there are two different offenses or only one, is whether each provision requires proof of a fact which the other does not." Sering v. State, 488 N.E.2d 369 (1986). The .08 statute