If you have two past DUI convictions on your record within 10 years from your most recent arrest for a third DUI charge, the consequences of a third conviction include a minimum 120 days of jail and potentially loss of your driving privilege for 3 years. Therefore, it is imperative that you avail yourself of the best possible legal help in defending against your most recent DUI charge.

A skilled Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer will know how to fight your case to maximize the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome on your behalf. And you can’t expect to become as knowledgeable of California DUI law as an experienced attorney.

But nevertheless, you do well to familiarize yourself with the basics concerning a 3rd DUI in California to clear up any confusion you may have and to prepare yourself mentally for the DMV and/or court battle ahead. To that end, we present to you the following information:

Administrative and Criminal Penalties for a 3rd DUI

California Vehicle Code Section 23152 establishes punishments for those convicted of a DUI within 10 years of two previous DUI convictions. More specifically, the 10-year period begins at the date you were arrested for any DUI you were later convicted of. And also note that "wet reckless" convictions count the same as DUI convictions for the purpose of priorability of your current 3rd DUI.

The California DMV will immediately impose "administrative penalties" for a 3rd DUI. These are distinct from the "criminal penalties" you face in a courtroom trial. The most burdensome DMV action will be to Order a suspension of your driver's license for 1 to 3 years, while allowing for the possibility of your getting a restricted license after the first year, which you can use to drive to/from work and the DUI program, providing certain hoops are jumped through by the driver/defendant. Attorney Ed Blum will advise you of this information in person that you can use to prevent a 1 - 3 year license suspension.

Possible criminal penalties upon conviction for a 3rd DUI in California include:

120 days to 12 months in county jail. A good DUI lawyer, however, may be able to "convert" jail time into community service or possibly house arrest.

If you refused to take a chemical test when arrested, you will likely receive an additional 10 days in jail for a 3rd time DUI conviction.

Three to five years of Informal Stay out of Trouble Probation will be imposed. [See our 2nd and 1st DUI service pages for information on DUI probation terms.]

A fine likely totaling around $1,900.00 to $2,500.00.

A driver's license suspension of up to three years. In some cases, however, your attorney can help you obtain a restricted license. Before your license can be reinstated, you will have to complete a DUI class and demonstrate "financial responsibility" by securing an SR22 form from any Insurance company.

Mandatory installation, at your own expense, of an IID (ignition interlock device). The IID must be used for the first two years immediately following your license being reinstated.

And possibly being classified by the state as an HTO (habitual traffic offender) for three years.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUIs

The penalties given above apply to misdemeanor DUIs, which accounts for the large majority of all DUI’s charged in the State. However, there are three circumstances in which a DUI charge becomes a felony and carries much stricter sentencing:

(1) If you have four DUIs/wet reckless convictions within the previous 10 years, (2) If you have a previous felony DUI on your record, the next DUI charge automatically becomes a felony and lastly, (3) If anyone is injured or killed in an auto accident caused by your DUI.

Sentencing will be enhanced in terms of the potential for incarceration in a State Prison as opposed to County Jail.

Below are some possible sentencing elements for a felony and/or aggravated DUI [to view more information, visit our 2nd DUI and Felony DUI pages]:

If a child under the age of 14 was in the vehicle with you, you can receive 30 extra days in jail and be charged with child endangerment, which is usually a misdemeanor but in some cases can be a felony.

If you refused the chemical BAC test or had a BAC of .15% or higher, your probation terms will likely increase. And you may also face longer suspension periods and be denied a restricted driver’s license. This is why you need a skilled DUI lawyer to fight any allegation of refusal of the chemical test.

If you were speeding when arrested for DUI, you can receive 60 extra days in county jail.

In extreme cases, your license could be suspended for as long as 10 years.

If you are convicted of DUI while under the legal drinking age of 21, you will most likely get at least a one-year license suspension. This is part of California’s strict “no tolerance” approach to underage DUIs.

Your vehicle can also be impounded in certain cases.

Any of these aggravating factors, the specific circumstances of the arrest, past criminal convictions on your record (DUI or otherwise), and/or being charged with a felony instead of misdemeanor DUI, will increase multiple sentencing elements, be it jail time, fines, or duration of your license suspension.

About 3rd DUI License Suspensions

Suspensions for 3rd DUI’s in California are significantly longer than for a 1st or 2nd offense. Either a loss in court or in the DMV hearing will likely result in a three-year suspension. If you submitted to the chemical test after your arrest, you can usually get a restricted license, but if you refused, you will probably be unable to drive at all for up to the full three years.

In order to obtain a restricted license, you must first complete your DUI education class and submit proof that you have installed a state-approved ignition interlock device (IID) in all vehicles registered to you. At the earliest, you can install the IID after 180 days, but after one year passes, you would have to resubmit proof of having the IID installed to continue to drive on your restricted license.

Next, realize that for 3rd time DUIs, it is possible for your license to be “revoked” rather than simply “suspended” and for the label “habitual traffic offender” (HTO) to be slapped on you for the full three years.

The difference between a revocation and a suspension is that, a suspended license is returned to you after the suspension period expires (though you still have to pay the fee and officially get it reinstated before driving again), but a revoked license is not returned to you until you prove you have completed your state-mandated DUI program.

As to HTO status, it can come from accumulation of points on your driving record from various sources, not just DUI. But once declared an HTO, any new driving crimes will lead to stiffer penalties, likely including long jail terms. If your license is suspended three years, you may not be driving, but HTO status could still potentially affect you eventually.

As most people rely on vehicle transport to get to their place of employment and make a living, besides to buy groceries, visit family and friends, and for most other social and basic survival activities, a three-year suspension is disastrous. There are ways to fight ending up with that result, though some suspension period is inescapable if convicted of a 3rd DUI. A good lawyer can help, however, to minimize the duration and impact of a suspension when a dismissal or acquittal cannot be attained.

DUI Defense Strategies

In the case of a 3rd DUI charge, many defendants may feel hopeless and think they should just suffer the consequences of an inevitable conviction without even hiring a DUI lawyer to help them. This, however, is a mistake. Ed Blum has had over 100 cases dismissed in one 12 month period and yours may be the next one he will be successful in getting dismissed.

In fact, there are many possible DUI defense strategies that can work to combat a 3rd DUI charge just like a first offense. A good attorney will know how to use the police reports and other relevant "discovery" against the prosecutor and the arresting agency. He or she will also subpoena witnesses in your favor, gather evidence, and probe the evidence brought against you for weaknesses.

Here are some of the most common DUI defense arguments:

(1) There was no probable cause for the traffic stop or for the arrest; (2) The Miranda Rights were not read before the arrest or the defendant's rights were otherwise violated; (3) The breathalyzer had not been checked to ensure it was working properly or the test was not administered correctly; (4) The police report has incorrect or missing information that substantially affects the case; (5) The BAC blood/breath test was thrown off due to medications the defendant was on or because of food or something else in the defendant's mouth; (6) The defendant did not refuse the breath test but was unable to properly take it due to respiratory or other medical conditions, etc ...

Even with a 3rd DUI charge, DUI defense lawyer Ed Blum can fight to get charges dropped or reduced. He can often negotiate plea agreements with the DA that will result in a much lighter sentence.

Additionally, it is possible in the state of California to get a 3rd DUI conviction expunged from your record after you complete your probationary period. That is, provided you do not violate the terms of your probation. An experienced attorney can help you file a petition to the court to Dismiss OR expunge the DUI from your record, and if the judge grants the Petition, your DUI conviction will be dismissed from your record.

Can I Still Get on Probation And Avoid Jail Time After a 3rd Offense DUI?

Many lawyers may just give up and assume that no probation can be obtained for a 3rd DUI, but they are failing their clients if they do this. It is true that a conviction will normally require a minimum of 120 days in jail and a maximum of up to 12 months. However, the prosecution and the presiding judge may sometimes be persuaded to grant probation.

This can open the door to seeking house arrest with electronic monitoring in place of most of the jail time, use of a SCRAM bracelet to allow alcoholics with a 3rd DUI to stay out of jail, or even pleading good reasons to the judge why your jail term should be shortened to as little as 30 days.

Conversion of jail time to community service is less likely with a 3rd DUI, especially if your 3rd DUI occurred while you were still serving probation for your 2nd DUI.

And if probation is granted, you will have to still spend some time in jail first, then complete a 30 month DUI program (even if you already completed a DUI program for a previous conviction).

The odds, generically, of gaining probation are much slimmer for a 3rd DUI than for a 1st or 2nd, but a lawyer who knows which California counties allow it more often, which judges and prosecutors are more conducive to the idea, and how to force a compromise by putting up a strong fight or how to win a plea deal by skilled negotiations, can sometimes get you DUI probation even for a 3rd DUI.

Contact Us Today for Help

We at Los Angeles DUI Lawyer are here to help you navigate the legal situation you are in and to build for you a solid defense. We know how to find weaknesses in the evidence brought against you, and we have a long track record of achieving dismissals, acquittals, and reduced charges/sentences.

To learn more or to schedule your free legal consultation, contact Los Angeles DUI anytime 24/7 by calling us at 310-848-1376.