What Is a Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender Enhancement (HVSO)?

If you have previously been convicted of multiple DUIs, you may be subjected to heightened sentencing in a subsequent charge. It’s important that you know about the Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender enhancement or HVSO.

This enhancement may result in more severe criminal penalties. Your freedom, your money, and your livelihood could be in serious jeopardy if an HVSO is part of your case. It’s time to speak with an experienced Indianapolis DUI law firm. Rathburn Law Office P.C. is ready to serve you.

The Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender Enhancement

In general, a habitual offender enhancement is an additional punishment tacked on to a convicted defendant’s sentence. The point is to extend the punishment that someone faces for repeatedly breaking the law. It applies to DUI matters and is known in that context as the Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender enhancement, or HVSO.

This enhancement is possible if:

  • An individual has been convicted of a DUI, also known as OWI.
  • The individual has a history of two or more previous DUI or OWI convictions.
  • The current and past convictions must have substance use, such as alcohol, as a material element.

If there were two prior DUI convictions, at least one must have occurred within ten years before the current offense. If there were three, there is no timeframe requirement for when any of the three prior convictions took place.

Other Factors That Could Enhance Your Sentencing

Having prior DUI convictions could mean a stiffer sentencing at the end of a criminal trial. But there are other factors, often present with HVSO, that could enhance the sentencing. Examples include:

  • Any prior criminal history
  • The blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
  • If not alcohol, the nature of the intoxicating substance
  • Whether any injuries were sustained in an accident
  • The general factual circumstances involved

If you’ve had prior convictions, or other factors above apply, it’s imperative that you hire an Indianapolis DUI defense lawyer. Just because you are facing a possible sentencing enhancement doesn’t mean it will come to pass. And merely being charged with a crime certainly doesn’t mean you are guilty of it.

What Can Happen With an HVSO Enhancement?

An HVSO can be tacked on to either a misdemeanor or felony DUI. The additional penalty range is therefore anywhere from one to eight years. This can have potentially serious legal repercussions, even if the latest charge is relatively minor.

For instance, assume the underlying conviction would result in minimal or no imprisonment. Despite this, an HVSO enhancement may add between one and eight years to your sentence.

Defending You Against Enhanced Sentencing and DUI Charges

Our goal is to eliminate any argument for any type of sentencing enhancement, including HVSO. This requires a diligent review of the case against you and the strength of the prosecution’s evidence.

When you retain the Rathburn Law Office P.C., our skilled Indianapolis DUI defense attorney immediately gets to work. Where possible, we undermine the prosecution’s case and the evidence against you. We also work to exclude unreliable or illegally obtained evidence.

Finally, we explore all legal options. This could include seeking reduced charges or even asking the charges to be dismissed. A plea deal could be worked out that avoids an enhanced sentence or stiffer criminal penalties. Throughout the process, we answer your questions and concerns and help you make an informed choice.

Are you facing DUI charges or worried about enhanced sentencing? Let our dedicated team go to work defending your rights and best interests. Call the Rathburn Law Office P.C. to get started today.

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With over 25 years of experience, Rathburn Law is your ideal choice. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, Reach out to us today!