Will the Prosecutor Handling My DUI Trial Know My Driving or Criminal Records?
Driving under the influence (DUI) arrests, trials, convictions, and sentences can be anxiety-producing, frightening experiences. Many first-time offenders find themselves overwhelmed by the process and unsure how to best navigate the criminal justice system to ensure they receive the least stringent penalty and punishment possible. It is not surprising that many DUI arrestees choose to retain criminal defense counsel to assist them in this stressful and unfamiliar process.
Will the Prosecutor Have Knowledge of a DUI Defendant's Driving and Criminal Records?
First, it's important to understand the prosecutor's role. The prosecutor is an attorney employed by the government (federal or state) who manages the DUI case against a defendant after the point of the police officer's arrest of the DUI offender. The prosecutor is the government's or state's lawyer, who is working to obtain a conviction against the DUI defendant, at the conclusion of a jury or bench (judge-determined) trial.
DUI offenders often wonder whether the prosecutors assigned to their cases will have knowledge of their full DMV and criminal records, if any. The answer is probably yes.The prosecutor assigned to handle a DUI trial will likely have knowledge of the defendant's records. The prosecution or state has access to historical records. It is another matter whether those records are actually obtained and reviewed, and if so, at what point in the DUI trial process. Case load volumes are high, and prosecutorial resources (like all government resources) are strained. That said, it is likely that at some point near the beginning of a DUI trial proceeding, a prosecutor will obtain and review a defendant's driving record and any criminal record. Without knowledge of the defendant's past driving and/or criminal records, the prosecutor is not able to effectively negotiate charges, plea bargains, and such.
Is This True in All States?
There are some exceptions to these general premises and presumptions. For example, Florida does not report driving or criminal records online. The absence of electronic records access may make the process more time-consuming and costly for the prosecutor. It is not an absolute bar to the prosecutor's ability to obtain records and histories, however.
What About a DUI Offender's Records in Other States? Are They Accessible?
Yes, a prosecutor handling a DUI trial is able to acquire a defendant's criminal history from a national database. That criminal history will reveal prior offenses, if any, in other states. By obtaining the national criminal record for a DUI defendant, a prosecutor will know if the record is clean, if there are prior offenses, how many prior offenses exist, and in what jurisdictions.
If you or someone you know has been arrested on DUI charges, it is prudent to consult with a criminal defense, DUI defense, or traffic attorney as soon as possible. Counsel can advise of options throughout the criminal justice process, as well as how to best manage the proceedings to minimize penalties against an alleged DUI offender.