What Happens On A 3rd DUI In California?

Last Modified: January 22, 2024

Getting a 3rd DUI in California can have major impacts on your life. Our third DUI Law guide provides information on penalties and changes to your license.

What Happens on a Third DUI in California?

A third DUI within a 10-year period is very serious. While it is still classified as a misdemeanor (so long as no serious injuries occurred in relation to the DUI) the penalties for a third DUI are understandably harsher than those associated with a first or second. For example, driving privileges could be revoked for up to three years if you are classified as a ‘habitual traffic offender’

As a priorable offense, past DUIs can be considered when the judge determines what punishment to hand down. Having the help of an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer to minimize fines and jail time can make all the difference to the outcome of a DUI case.

What Constitutes a DUI in California?

Because driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is so dangerous, only minimal levels of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) can be present in a person’s system. And for people who are still in the probationary period of a previous DUI, there may be a zero-tolerance clause that does not allow that driver to have any alcohol in their system.

When an on-site breath test is done, it is illegal for a driver over the age of 21 to have a BAC that is equal or greater than 0.08%. Additional rules apply to commercial drivers when they are operating a vehicle in the course of business (their BAC must be under 0.04%), and drivers under the age of 21 have even stricter rules to follow (with a limit of 0.01%.)

A breath test is one way for a police officer to determine whether a driver might be under the influence of drugs and alcohol and a BAC reading that meets or exceeds the limits outline above can be cause for an immediate DUI arrest. But a low BAC doesn’t necessarily mean the driver in question is cleared of an offense. Behaviors such as driving or acting erratically might be a sign that someone is under the influence of a substance other than alcohol that cannot as easily be tested on the spot.

A field sobriety test could also reveal impairment in motor skills that might be caused by certain drugs. The arresting has some discretion, which must be based on observed evidence, to give out a DUI.

What are the Penalties for a Third Time DUI in California?

A third DUI will result in substantially harsher penalties than a first or second DUI if it occurs within 10 years of the last one was registered. This is especially true if the third DUI occurs before the probation period is over. Counties can differ in minimum penalties for a third DUI, but Los Angeles County observes the following:

  • A 5-year informal or summary probation period
  • Suspension of the person’s driver’s license for up to 3 years with the possibility of obtaining a restricted license once 18 months have passed
  • Paying a fine of up to $3000
  • Installation of an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) for a period of 2 years
  • 30-month mandatory, court-approved drug and alcohol courses
  • Installation of an IID or ignition interlock device which measures your blood alcohol level prior to operating a vehicle
  • A minimum of 120 hours in county jail with the possibility of one year of time served
  • Community service

Harsher penalties may be added on top of these minimums of other aggravating circumstances occur relating to the DUI. This might involve driving at excessive speeds, the presence of children in the car with this offense is occurring, being the cause of an accident, etc. Engaging a highly experienced Los Angeles Criminal Attorney is the best way to defend yourself against these charges. They will be able to help you lessen or avoid jail time by negotiating alternative solutions on your behalf.

Is a Third DUI in California a Felony?

One question that is often important to repeat DUI offenders is whether a third DUI charge counts as a felony in California. The short answer is a third DUI is NOT typically a felony. Just as the first and second DUI charges are most often classified as misdemeanors, so too is a third (as long as there aren’t any serious injuries or other aggravating issues associated with the incident.) Although a third-time DUI offender may not be charged with the most severe classification of crime (felony), a third DUI conviction within a 10 year look back period will inevitably subject them to harsher penalties than before for repeatedly engaging in such dangerous behaviors.

Top Defense Used in a Third DUI

Getting a third DUI is something that the courts do not take lightly. This is why obtaining the guidance of a seasoned Los Angeles Criminal defense lawyer is so crucial. They can suggest the best defense to the evidence that is presented against you in the hearing and advocate for you to possibly avoid the harshest penalties.

A qualified DUI lawyer will be able to implement a range of common defenses for your case if they apply. These might include:

  • Demonstrating that the traffic stop was made without reasonable suspicion to do so
  • Questioning the physical assessment the officer made when determining a person was intoxicated (for example, the testing environment and emotional state of the subject during a field sobriety test can impact their performance)
  • An inaccurately high BAC reading due to faulty equipment, not using the device correctly, or even health conditions of the subject
  • The arresting officer not correctly following all procedures

We Offer a Risk Free Consultation on Your 3rd DUI Charge

Having private counsel to help you fight a third DUI case is incredibly important because the stakes are much higher. Without the proper assistance you may be subject to significant jail time, fines, and loss of license altogether.

Proper counsel is more likely to work on your behalf to get a plea deal or even have your case dismissed altogether. Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys who are well versed in DUI cases and frequently obtain the best outcomes for their clients. If you are looking to avoid jail time, getting a great lawyer by your side is the your best bet.

To get immediate assistance with your third DUI case, and to speak with a lawyer at our firm, call us today at 1 (310) 557-1700

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