When you are first charged with a criminal offense, the laws and penalties are designed to rehabilitate you, teach you a lesson, and prevent you from committing that crime again.
This is not necessarily the case if you commit the crime again. The logic is that your original penalties weren’t enough, so they must be increased. The penalties are increased even more for additional convictions.
So what happens if you commit the same crime nine times?
Such is the case of Robin Michele Ritsche of St. Cloud. The 52-year old woman has a history of DUI convictions that goes back to 1992.
In Minnesota, a first DUI conviction is penalized by up to 90 days in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, up to 90 days of license revocation, and/or an IID installation for your vehicle. The penalties increase from there.
In November 2015, Ritsche was driving when she sideswiped and crashed into another vehicle. The other driver sustained minor injuries. When she was tested by police officers, she seemed “fidgety, overly talkative, and nervous.” She was given a blood test that revealed marijuana, methamphetamine, amphetamine, and Xanax were in her system at the time of the crash. A DUI charge was a given, but her situation was relatively unique.
As mentioned above, this was not Ritsche’s first DUI charge. She was convicted of her first DUI in 1992. Sadly, though, Ritsche did not simply live as a law-abiding citizen until her 2015 crash. In the intervening years, she received seven other convictions, bringing the total number up to nine when she pled guilty to felony DWI in September 2016.
Nine DUI/DWI convictions is a long way away from an offense that warrants up to 90 days in jail the first time it occurs. In late December 2016, Robin Michele Ritsche was sentenced to five years in prison, and is also required to pay over $4,000 in restitution to the victim of her crash.
Defend Against Every DUI
Most likely, you don’t have eight DUI convictions under your belt. However, even if this is your first DUI, the story of Ms. Ritsche is one to keep in mind. Every charge or conviction has lasting effects in (and out of) the courtroom. Even misdemeanor offenses can be used against you if you are charged with additional crimes or have to testify in court for or against someone else – a lawyer may use your criminal history as a reason not to trust your testimony.
Because of this, it is important to hire a lawyer and fight against any charge, no matter how small, or how much of an accident the charge may have been. Sure, you may vow to never drive under the influence again, but that does not mean you should take your chances in the courtroom and risk an unnecessary conviction.
Even if the penalties seem reasonable and doable, you should still fight back hard with your lawyer to get your charges dropped. From there, you may be able to get your criminal record wiped clean through expungement or record sealing.
If you have been charged with DWI or any sort of criminal offense, be sure to get on the phone with a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer immediately, and start fighting hard for your future.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2016), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2016), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2016).