If you have recently been arrested for DUI and already have two previous DUIs on your record, the potential consequences of a third conviction could be extremely severe. However, the idea that fighting a third DUI is hopeless is simply false, and with a good DUI defense lawyer your chances of a favorable outcome are substantially increased.
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we not only have deep experience in saving our clients' licenses on easier cases like a first-time DUI but are fully capable of successfully handling more challenging cases as well, including third-offense DUIs.
If you have received a third DMV license suspension for DUI, you should waste no time in availing yourself of expert legal help. Contact us anytime 24/7 at Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, by calling 424-281-3020, and we will be happy to assist you.
Defining a Third-offense DUI
California Vehicle Code Section 23152 specifies that those convicted of a third DUI offense are liable to suffer additional penalties as compared to a 1st or 2nd offense DUI.
It is important to note that either an actual DUI or a wet reckless driving conviction counts as a "DUI prior" for the purposes of the statute. And both previous offenses must have been within 10 years of the potential third conviction, going off of arrests dates (rather than conviction dates).
Possible Penalties for a 3rd DUI
A third DUI is still a misdemeanor offense, unless there are specific aggravating factors to make it a felony, but the common sentencing elements are relatively severe. They include:
- In most cases, a minimum of 120 days of jail time, but in all cases, a maximum of up to 12 months in county jail. If you refused the chemical test, however, 10 extra days of jail time will be added. Note, however that a good lawyer may be able to convert jail time to community service or house arrest.
- Three to five years of DUI probation. And any violation of your probation terms can potentially lead to additional punishments or even incarceration.
- Registration as a habitual traffic offender for a 3-year period, which will lead to sentencing enhancements for any driving crimes committed while the HTO status remains in force. Minor traffic violations, however, would be excluded from this rule.
- Loss of your California driver's license for 3 full years. However, it may be possible to obtain a restricted license, and in that case, an IID (ignition interlock device) must be installed on your vehicle. An IID must also be used for 2 years after your license suspension ends. You must use a state-approved IID supply, maintenance, and monitoring company and pay for it out of your own pocket. This can mean from $500 to $1,500 in total expenses.
- Completion of a state-approved DUI class, the exact length and nature of which can vary from case to case based on a variety of factors.
- A fine of from $390 to $1,000. With fees, however, the total amount is typically around $1,800.
Sentencing enhancements that may apply to a 3rd-offense DUI in some cases include:
- Thirty extra days in county jail if a child below the age of 14 was present in the vehicle during the DUI. This constitutes "child endangerment" under Vehicle Code Section 23572.
- Sixty extra days in jail if you were speeding during the DUI, especially if you were going at speeds “excessive” for the type of road you were on (highway vs. city) and very far over the speed limit.
- Additional jail time for having a BAC of .15% or higher. This is nearly double the .08 standard and is the mark for an “excessive” BAC level.
- The impounding of your vehicle. The length of time and expense can vary, but it will be an added hassle as well as expense.
- In extreme cases, the loss of your license for up to 10 years.
When such aggravating factors as were mentioned just above were involved, it will be much more difficult to avoid a jail term as part of your sentence. A good DUI lawyer, however, may still be able to convert it or, at least, get the jail time reduced.
If any DUI, including a third offense, involves the causing of bodily injury or death of another person it becomes a felony DUI. If a prior DUI was a felony, it also becomes a felony. Under California law, only a fifth DUI is automatically a felony regardless of other factors, however.
Third-offense DUI License Suspensions
Like any other DUI, your license is confiscated and suspended by the arresting officer and you are given a temporary "pink slip" license to use for 30 days or until your DMV hearing (if you request one within 10 days of your arrest). Remember that the “10 days” are not business days but include weekends and holidays. Also, your DUI lawyer can normally call the DMV for you and not only get your hearing scheduled but also ensure you can drive legally up until your hearing even if that takes you past the 30-day date marked out on your “pink slip.”
If you win your DMV hearing, your license is immediately restored, but you must also win your court case (if there is one) to keep it that way. If you lose your DMV hearing, a three-year license suspension is put in place immediately.
It is possible in some cases to ultimately end up with only a one-year suspension if you submitted to the chemical test. If you did not submit to the chemical test, however, a conviction could lead to losing your license and being refused a restricted license for the full 3 years.
Defending Against a 3rd DUI Charge
The basic defense strategies used to defeat a third-offense DUI charge are the same as for any other DUI, except that an attempt may be made to "strike" a prior from the jury's consideration based on various legal technicalities (which would reduce the charge, in effect, to a 2nd or 1st time DUI).
Some of the main defenses used at Los Angeles DUI Lawyer include:
- Lack of probable cause for the traffic stop and/or arrest. Without valid cause to stop you, arrest you, or to search your vehicle, evidence thus obtained can be thrown out of court, leading to a dismissal.
- The Miranda Rights were not read or the defendant's rights were otherwise violated during the arrest. You cannot legally be interrogated until you have been informed you are under arrest and have been read your Constitutional (“Miranda”) rights.
- The police report is flawed or incomplete or the arresting officer who filled it out has an untrustworthy policing record. If the arresting officer has a history of not telling the truth on the police report, that will work in your favor by calling his testimony into question.
- BAC testing equipment was not properly used or maintained. The officer must have been trained to use that specific type of device, must have calibrated it property, and there must be a valid maintenance record to inspect.
- The defendant's BAC level was still rising when tested, and thus, possibly lower than .08% while behind the wheel.
- The blood samples from the BAC blood test were not properly stored and may have been contaminated. Title 17 protocols regulate blood sample collection and storage very minutely.
- The BAC count was barely at/over .08, and an independent re-test could easily render a lower result. (An extra blood sample must have been taken by police at the time of your BAC blood test so your lawyer can use it to verify the police lab test results.)
- The defendant was in a parked car when arrested. The officer did not actually see him/her operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
There are many other defense we use as well, too many to list them all here. We tailor each defense strategy to the specifics of each particular case rather than using a "cookie cutter" approach. And our familiarity with specific L.A. Area courts, judges, and prosecutors gives us an advantage in knowing which approach will be most effective in each instance.
In some cases, when an outright victory cannot be won, we use our negotiation skills to gain you a restricted license, a lower jail term or a conversion of jail time to community service, or to get your charge reduced to wet or dry reckless driving. The bottom line is that we never give up and always fight on to win for you the best possible outcome to your case.
Also note that it is sometimes possible, in a plea agreement, to ultimately get a 3rd-time DUI offense expunged from your record. Once your sentence and your probation have been fully completed, we can assist you in petitioning the court to review your case and expunge the DUI from your criminal record. If the judge agrees, you can then rescind your previous plea and re-enter a plea of "not guilty" so that the case will be officially dismissed.
Probation and Jail Alternatives for a 3rd DUI
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we are familiar with all of the options that exist when you face a 3rd DUI conviction. Many lawyers will simply read the statute requiring a “mandatory minimum” jail sentence of 120 days and give up. We do not. We are realistic but also tireless in our quest to save your future.
The truth is, after you DMV hearing and if you are convicted of your 3rd DUI, it is 100% at the discretion of the presiding judge as to if you serve 120 days or longer in county jail and as to whether or not you qualify for probation. In L.A. County, for example, there is a 30/30 Program that allows some convicted of repeat offense DUIs to serve only 30 days in county jail (or even on house arrest with electronic monitoring) and complete a 30-month alcohol treatment/community service program. Most DUI lawyers don’t even realize this program exists, but we do.
In Orange County, however, repeat offense DUIs are treated more strictly than in most parts of Southern California. It just varies from county to county and even court to court. But even in Orange County, there are possibilities, like DUI Court if you can appear in court 5 or 6 times a week for a period of time, and sometimes even house arrest with/without residential treatment.
Jail alternatives also include living in a residential sober living facility at night but working during the day and wearing a SCRAM ankle bracelet 24/7 so your sweat can be checked for alcohol. Every defendant cannot avail of every possible program, which is why you need a DUI lawyer who understands what all the possibilities are which ones are likely obtainable in your case.
If probation is granted, it will last from 3 to 5 years, possibly longer than your driver’s license suspension. You need to be very careful to adhere fully to the terms of your probation and, especially, not to get 4th DUI while on probation for your 3rd DUI. And if your license is revoked instead of just suspended, you will have to go through extra steps to get it reinstated. Be very careful driving on probation (once you are allowed to) and follow all the steps to get your license reinstated. Don’t assume you can drive after the official suspension/revocation period expires.
Contact Us Today For Help
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we have both the legal knowledge and the first-hand courtroom/DMV hearing experience necessary to maximize your chances of avoiding a third DUI conviction and of quickly getting your license back.
And in cases where a dismissal/acquittal may not be obtainable, we still fight on in your behalf and use our well seasoned negotiation skills to win you a favorable plea. We will also work to get you probation and a jail alternative for as much of your jail term as possible via state and county approved programs.
For a free DUI consultation on the details of your case, call us 24/7/365 at 424-281-3020, and we will waste no time in giving attention to your case.