DUI and DWI convictions can often lead to long-term consequences. After dealing with fines, court fees, jail time, license suspension or revocation, or any number of other penalties, convicted offenders often face trouble during employment searches, college applications, or joining the military, among other things. However, the Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled that multiple DUI convictions will not stop one man’s endeavors to run for the State Senate.

Anthony Bisignano is currently seeking a seat in the Iowa State Senate.  His candidacy was challenged by Ned Chiodo, who is campaigning for the same position.  Bisignano was convicted of a second drunk driving offense, which state law considers an aggravated misdemeanor. The Iowa state constitution prevents anyone convicted of an “infamous crime” from running for public office or even voting. The problem with the ban is that the constitution does not define “infamous crime.” Because his candidacy was challenged, Bisignano had to show that the state constitutional ban should not apply to him. Before the Court’s decision in Bisignano’s case it was generally thought that any crime that could result in a prison sentence was considered an infamous crime. However, Bisignano convinced the Court otherwise.

Though the Supreme Court refrained from defining infamous crime for the purposes of such cases, it signaled such a definition could come in the future. This case bodes well for many convicted of DUI in Iowa. Before the decision certain offenders would be prohibited from voting or running for public office. Now, some of those offenders may not be prevented from enjoying those rights just because of their convictions. ACLU representative Rita Bettis said, “We now know that absolutely no aggravated misdemeanors disqualify a person from voting…and it is likely that many felonies do not.”

Bisignano’s case highlights the potentially long-lasting effects of multiple DUI convictions. Like many states, Iowa’s repeat offender laws increase penalties for drivers who are convicted of more than one DUI or DWI. With each subsequent conviction, these laws allow for harsher and harsher penalties. For example, in New York a firstDWI conviction can result in up to 1 year in jail, high fines, and a 6-month license revocation, among other penalties.  If a New York driver commits a DWI within 10 years of a prior conviction or convictions for an alcohol related offense (other than DWAI), they can be charged with aFelony DWI.  This heightened charge can lead to much steeper fines, a minimum license revocation of up to 18 months, and up to seven years in state prison.  The difference between the penalties for a DWI and a Felony DWI are significant.

Because of the popularity of repeat offender laws throughout the country, it is important for any driver charged with a DWI to hire an experienced DWI lawyer. If you are a New York driver who has been charged with a DWI or related charge, call us now. Our skilled lawyers have years of experience aggressively defending drivers. We will work hard to ensure your best possible results, and may be able to help you avoid multiple convictions and harsh penalties.Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem.