Prior drunk driving convictions can have a grave impact on every aspect of a California DUI/DWI case, from whether bail will be required to trial sentencing. One option that DUI offenders have who are facing multiple unresolved DUI cases, is to have their California DUI attorney file a Motion to Bifurcate the Jury/Motion to Strike prior convictions. Motions to Bifurcate in DUI cases ask the court to split up the two parts, the prior offenses and the current offense. The purpose naturally is to have any prior California DUI offenses not held against the driver. Because of California’s 10-year “washout” period, a driver who is arrested for a drunk-driving offense within ten years of a prior DUI offense may suffer more severe consequences that include jail time, large fines, driver license suspension/revocation, mandatory attendance at alcohol education classes, etc.
A Motion for Bifurcation must be brought in a timely manner in order to be considered. Because prior California DUI offenses are enhancements and not elements of the current DUI offense, the judge must grant bifurcation upon request by a California DUI defense lawyer. It is important to note that the Motion for Bifurcation/Motion to Strike a prior conviction needs to outline the specific constitutional rights of the DUI offender that will be violated should any prior convictions be used to enhance sentencing for the current charges. Otherwise, the California Criminal Court may not grant the motion.