In the state of California, driving intoxicated is a crime severely punished by the law. If you are arrested for drunk driving, the arresting officer will check your criminal record for any prior convictions on a DUI offense. This means, if you have never been arrested and convicted of a DUI before, you will be charged with a first DUI offense. A third DUI offense means that you have two prior DUI convictions on your record within ten years from your first conviction. A third DUI conviction carries steeper penalties of all the other two convictions before. For this reason, you need a defense attorney to fight these charges against you to avoid the harsh penalties. Speak to the Law Offices of Jeff Voll in Los Angeles and get the much needed legal assistance to fight these allegations.
Understanding DUI Offense
California prohibits intoxicated driving. A person can be intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. When one is arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving, various tests are carried out. Field tests, as well as tests at the station, are done to determine the level of intoxication.
If a field sobriety test is carried out and you fail, you will be arrested for drunk driving where further tests will be carried out at the police station. When you are noticed to be impaired in addition to having a blood alcohol concentration beyond the legally accepted one of 0.08%, you will be charged with a DUI offense. If a blood test is also taken on suspicion that drugs intoxicate you, and it comes out positive, you will also face DUI offense charges.
When you are charged with a third DUI, it means you have two prior convictions for driving under the influence. A third conviction carries severe penalties compared to the previous two because a DUI offense is a priorable one in California. This means the more you repeat the offense; the harsher your penalties will be with regard to the previous conviction.
Penalties or Punishments for a Third DUI Conviction in California
When you are arrested and charged with a third DUI, you will wonder what the likely penalties you will face and the various consequences. A conviction on a third DUI offense will result in steeper penalties from the DMV, the court, and serious consequences from your insurance provider.
However, the exact consequences will largely depend on the circumstances of the offense, as well as the penalties you received previously.
When you face charges on DUI offense for the third time and get convicted, the court is likely to impose the following penalties on you:
- The court may sentence you to misdemeanor probation lasting between three and five years.
- You may be sentenced to county jail imprisonment lasting between 120 days and one year.
- You will be sentenced to pay a penalty assessment fees and fines that will range from $2,500 to $3,000.
- You will be ordered to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for two years
- You will be ordered to attend and complete a DUI program lasting thirty months
- Your driver's license will be revoked for three years. Fortunately, after eighteen months, you can apply for a restricted driver's license. If, however, you have installed an ignition interlock device in your car, you may be able to obtain a restricted driver's license immediately.
If you are sentenced to probation, the probation sentence carries with it certain conditions that, if violated, may result in the revocation of your probation and a jail sentence imposed. These conditions include:
- You are prohibited from driving with any traceable alcohol in your system
- If stopped for suspected intoxicated driving, you must submit to chemical testing of your breath, blood, or alcohol. If you refuse to submit, the consequences will be harsher.
- While on probation, you must never be charged with any other offense
Apart from the above conditions, other terms can be included in your probation. However, these terms are highly dependent on the facts of your offense. They include:
- You may be ordered to attend narcotics anonymous or alcoholics anonymous meetings
- You may be required to participate in a program known as Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Program.
- If an accident occurred while drunk and the victims suffered damages, you might be ordered to pay them restitution.
These penalties are more severe than for previous DUI offenses. To fight these allegations so that you get lesser penalties, you need to engage a lawyer to defend you.
What Happens to your Driver's License if Convicted of a Third DUI?
If you are convicted of this offense, the suspension of your driver's license will be longer than in the previous convictions. In addition to that, the DMV will designate you as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). Fortunately, you can still be able to enjoy restricted driving if you install your vehicle with an ignition interlock device.
A third DUI conviction results in your license suspension in two ways:
- If the court suspends it or
- If you lose at your DMV case or hearing
When your record shows that you have two prior DUI convictions in ten years, the court may suspend your license for three years. This includes even when you were convicted on wet reckless. The decisions by the DMV are independent of those of the court. A DMV suspension with prior DUI convictions will be for one year.
Regardless of the suspension, you can still drive by obtaining a restricted driver's license. It is not a guarantee that upon application for a restricted license, you will get it. The privilege of obtaining a restricted license is given to those that submit to chemical tests after arrest and show evidence that they have installed an IID in their vehicle.
When the IID is installed in your vehicle, you have the freedom to drive from any place without restrictions. It is important to note that the IID will be required for at least 24 months, and you cannot go around it.
If you are convicted of a third DUI offense, and you declined to agree to a chemical breath or blood test when arrested, the penalties against you are more stringent. Your license will be suspended or revoked for three years, and you will not be privileged to get a restricted driver's license during the suspension window.
What Happens to your Criminal Record?
Like other crimes in California, you can get your conviction expunged from your record. However, you must fulfill certain conditions to get your record expunged. These are:
- You were sentenced to probation and
- You completed your probation sentence successfully.
If you have fulfilled the above conditions, through your lawyer, you can file a petition seeking expungement of your record. If your petition for expungement is granted, your guilty plea is withdrawn, or that of no contest and a new one of not guilty entered. Once this is done, the case will be dismissed, and your record erased from the public.
Sentence Enhancement Factors
The penalties for this DUI offense can, however, be aggravated, meaning the defendant may receive increased penalties. Certain factors or circumstances of your offense may act as sentence enhancing factors. These include:
- When tested for BAC and you are found you were driving with a BAC of 0.15% and over
- If you refused to agree to chemical testing upon arrest
- If you caused an accident while driving intoxicated
- If you had a minor below 14 years in your car at the time of the arrest. In addition to this, you may face charges of violating PEN 273a on Child endangerment
- California prohibits underage drinking. If you face third DUI charges as an underage (below 21), you risk being sentenced to steeper penalties
- If you were driving beyond the recommended speed limit, you also risk steeper penalties.
The enhanced punishment you will receive because of the aggravating factors above will depend on the circumstances of the offense and your criminal background. However, it is unlikely you will avoid imprisonment, especially when you have previous DUI convictions added to the aggravating factors.
How a DUI Attorney will help You
Having an attorney fight for you is the best thing to do. Your attorney understands the legal language and can use the evidence gathered to write motions that support your case. You will not know what would help your case, but your attorney does. For instance, your attorney may see some evidence that may be detrimental to your case. When he or she notices it, they will work on finding the loopholes in it and file a motion to suppress it. This is upon realizing if the evidence is brought against you in court, it may cause more harm to your case than good.
Your lawyer can also negotiate a plea deal for you. A DUI attorney upon analyzing all the evidence provided, he or she can challenge the prosecutor's case and manage to have your charges dropped to more lenient ones. It is unlikely for the prosecutor to offer you a deal without your lawyer, and the deal offered may not be the best. However, your lawyer can negotiate the best deal for you based on the circumstances of the case.
Having a lawyer is also essential, especially when it comes to collecting evidence that will help your case. Your lawyer knows what to look for in the evidence against you and what evidence will help your case. This is important if you want to avoid steep penalties on conviction.
Find a DUI Lawyer Near Me
A third DUI conviction carries more severe penalties compared to previous convictions. However, one can avoid these penalties if well represented by a lawyer. A conviction can easily alter your life if you receive harsh penalties. However, with proper defense and challenging of the evidence, it is possible to get less severe penalties. Talking to a lawyer will help you fight these allegations and ensure a favorable outcome. At the Law Offices of Jeff Voll, we have extensive experience in defending DUI offenses against our clients. Call us at 323-467-6400, and let us defend you.