When facing an additional DUI charge after your first offense, the penalties increase dramatically and in many cases include a jail sentence. Depending on the circumstance, however, there is something known as “Laurick relief” that could be granted by the court in certain situations. Laurick relief was created after a case in 1990 that allowed the court to grant reduced penalties to anyone facing their second or third DUI charge after not being represented by legal counsel in their previous DWI offense(s). The case lasted 5 months and it was ultimately decided that the penalties Laurick was facing were too high considering his previous uncounseled case. The New Jersey Supreme Court held:
“There are two aspects of our analysis. The first is constitutional analysis of the limits on a state’s power to impose recidivist penalties on the basis of uncounseled convictions. The second is a more familiar judicial analysis of what constitutes good cause for collateral relief from an earlier judgment of conviction.
We hold that with the exception that a prior DWI conviction that was uncounseled in violation of court policy may not be used to increase a defendant’s loss of liberty, there is no constitutional impediment to the use of the prior uncounseled DWI conviction to establish repeat-offender status under DWI laws. With respect to collateral consequences of an uncounseled conviction other than a loss of liberty, any relief to be afforded should follow our usual principles for affording post-conviction relief from criminal judgments, namely, a showing of a denial of fundamental justice or other miscarriage of justice.”
This decision has been used by defense attorneys throughout the state. It is a common practice by defense attorneys to analyze a client’s prior DUI convictions when he/she is facing a second or third charge. Laurick relief is just one of many ways to minimize the harsh potential penalties for multiple DUI offenders.