What’s a DUI Lookback Period?

DUI lookback periodIn any state in the U.S., the consequences for criminal actions increases due to the severity of the crime, as well as the number of convictions a person has. Aside from crimes that have a mandatory life sentence in prison or capital punishment, these different levels of criminal convictions tend to start as low-level misdemeanors. DUI or drunk driving crimes are no different, and generally speaking, once you have three or four DUI convictions, you’re no longer looking at a misdemeanor but a felony, and all of the lifelong consequences of that conviction. Some states, however, take into account a DUI lookback period when tallying up that number, giving a little credit for good behavior over the years, even if there’s a second, third or fourth conviction in a lifetime.

DUI lookback periods are defined on a state level. For example:

  • California: 10 years.
  • Maryland: 5 years.
  • New Mexico: No DUI lookback period; they all count.
  • Arizona: 7 years.
  • Wisconsin: 10 years for a 2nd offense, no DUI lookback for any subsequent offenses.

A DUI lookback period is important because it allows for a certain measure of leniency in a courtroom, at a judge’s discretion. However, not everyone agrees that there should be any wiggle room for a drunk driver or a subsequent DUI conviction, even if it occurs decades after a first-offense DUI. As more states begin to adopt all-offender ignition interlock requirements, the need for a DUI lookback period isn’t as vital: an interlock increases the chances of another DUI never happening again. However, even with an interlock, more convictions within a lookback period mean more time with the device.

An ignition interlock is a lot less restrictive than a felony conviction, and can be used as a tool to turn your life around before a DUI lookback period is even a consideration in your future. After satisfying all of the consequences of your first DUI, use that experience as a reason to never look back on your night of bad judgment, and look forward to a future full of sober driving.

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