DUI is a priorable offense under California law. This means that you will face harsher penalties every time you commit an additional or subsequent DUI offense. Your penalties increase with every subsequent DUI or wet reckless crime that you commit. When you commit a third-time DUI offense within ten years from the first offense, you will face harsher penalties than you did for the first DUI crime. If you face 3rd DUI charges in Bakersfield, CA, you should contact the Bakersfield DUI Attorneys for reliable defense.
Elements of the Crime
For the prosecutor to accuse you of committing a third-time DUI crime, he or she will have to prove several elements of the crime:
- The prosecutor must prove that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The prosecutor must also prove that you had a BAC of 0.08% or higher at the time of driving.
- It should also be evident that you have two previous DUI convictions on your record.
Penalties for a 3rd DUI Offense
Which penalties will you face after committing a third-time DUI crime in California? And How do the penalties for a 3rd DUI offense differ from those of a first or second DUI offense?
The penalties you risk facing vary depending on the unique consequences of your case. The penalties that the court is likely to impose after convicting you with a 3rd DUI offense are:
- Informal probation ranging between $2,500 to $3,000
- Installing an ignition interlock device (IID) for two years
- Completing a 30-month court-approved DUI education program
- Revocation of your driver's license for 18 months
Your license could be converted into a restricted license. You can get a restricted license right away if you agree to install an IID in your vehicle. If the court recommends probation instead of jail time, you will have to adhere to several conditions of probation. Some of the typical requirements of probation that you would have to comply with include:
- Not driving with any measurable alcohol content in your blood or system
- You must never refuse to submit to a chemical test if you are arrested for committing a subsequent DUI offense
- You shouldn't commit an additional crime during the probation period
The court might impose other probation conditions depending on the circumstances of your case. The additional probation conditions might include:
- Paying restitution to the victims for the losses resulting from the accident caused by your drunk driving
- Participating in the Victim Impact Panel or Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) program
- Participating in the NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings
Suspension of Your Driver's License for a Third Time DUI Offense
When you commit a 3rd DUI offense in California, you risk facing a more extended license suspension. In addition to your driver's license suspension, you risk being labeled an HTO (Habitual Traffic Offenders). The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may label you an HTO for committing repeated DUI offenses. If you are willing to install an IID, you can get a restricted license that will allow you to drive in areas like school and work. When you commit a 3rd DUI offense, you can lose your license in two ways:
- When you are convicted of DUI in court
- When you lose during the DMV hearing
You could also lose or have your driver's license suspended if you fail to request a DMV hearing within ten days of your arrest. If you have two previous wet reckless or DUI convictions within ten years, it might trigger a court-ordered license suspension for up to three years. Losing during the DMV hearing may trigger a license suspension for one year. Whether the court or the DMV suspends your driver's license, you can obtain a restricted driver's license soon after the suspension. You can do this by submitting to a DUI chemical test and showing proof of installation of an IID.
As long as the vehicle you drive has an IID installed, the restricted license allows you to drive to the designated places. For a 3rd DUI offense, you must retain the IID in your vehicle for 24 months. You will face much stricter penalties if you commit a third-time DUI offense, and you also refuse to submit to a DUI chemical test. In this case, you will be subject to a three-year license suspension. You will also not qualify for a restricted license during the period of the license suspension. When you commit a 3rd DUI offense, there is no way to get around the 24 months IID installation. Therefore, the sooner you install the ignition interlock device, the better.
A Third Time DUI Conviction and a Permanent Criminal Record
You might be wondering whether a third-time DUI offense will earn you a permanent criminal record. The good news is that you can have the offense erased from your record. However, you will need an experienced attorney to guide you through the expungement process. You can expunge your 3rd DUI offense record if the court had subjected you to informal probation and you completed the probation. When applying for an expungement of your DUI conviction, you have to file a petition with the court. A judge will then review your petition. You may withdraw your plea of guilty or no contest if the judge approves your petition and grants you an expungement. You can cancel the previous no contest or guilty plea and enter a new plea of not guilty. After you enter the not guilty plea, your case will be dismissed.
Aggravating Factors for 3rd Time DUI Charges
If aggravating factors are present when you are charged with a 3rd DUI offense, they will increase your jail time or imprisonment. The common aggravating factors that could increase your charges are:
- Refusing to submit to a DUI chemical test
- Having an excessively high BAC of 0.15% and above
- Causing an accident due to intoxication
- Having children below 14 years in the vehicle at the time of committing the DUI offense
- Engaging in an underage DUI, which means that you were below 21 years when you committed the crime.
- Operating your vehicle at an excessive speed while under the influence
The exact enhanced penalties that you will receive due to the presence of aggravating factors will depend on:
- Your criminal history, particularly your past DUI record
- The circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest
Your chances of staying out of jail will be very slim if you have two prior DUI convictions on your record and aggravating factors are present
How a DUI Attorney can help
you can fight 3rd DUI offense charges successfully with the help of an experienced attorney. You shouldn't give up when accused of a 3rd DUI offense. An aggressive DUI, an attorney could negotiate for a reduction or even dismissal of your charges. You should contact an attorney immediately after your arrest to give him or her ample time to evaluate your charges and create a convincing defense. You should contact an attorney within hours of your arrest since a lot goes into creating an effective DUI offense. Some of the ways in which a criminal defense attorney will support your case include:
Analyzing Your Case
An attorney will conduct a comprehensive legal analysis of your case by collecting and interpreting evidence in your case. The attorney will use the evidence gathered as the basis of your defense. If the attorney realizes that the prosecutor acquired the evidence against you illegally, they will file a motion to suppress evidence. A motion to suppress evidence seeks to have all evidence acquired illegally left out of the case. An attorney may also file a Pitchess motion depending on the circumstances of your case. Upon filing these motions, the motions must be heard before the trial occurs. These motions may prompt a not guilty verdict during the trial or force the prosecutor to give you a good deal.
Negotiating With Prosecutors
Hiring an attorney increases the likelihood of getting a favorable outcome for your 3rd DUI offense. An attorney is better placed to negotiate a fair deal for your case. An attorney understands all the aspects of California DUI law. An attorney also understands all the tricks that prosecutors use while charging drivers with DUI offenses. Most DUI offenses do not proceed to trial. Having a skilled DUI attorney will increase your likelihood of getting your charges reduced to wet or dry reckless, consequently reducing the potential penalties. An attorney has handled numerous DUI cases before and understands how to negotiate with the prosecutor and court.
An experienced DUI attorney is well placed to gather evidence for your case. Ways of gathering evidence include subpoenaing witnesses to support your case. It also involves seeking further discovery in your case, including obtaining video and audio records surrounding your arrest. For example, when proving a probable cause for your arrest, the arresting officer may state that you were talking on your cell phone before the traffic stop. Your attorney may countercheck this evidence by checking your call logs to determine whether you were indeed talking on the phone.
Alternative Sentencing for 3rd DUI Offense
If you are lucky to find a skilled DUI attorney, your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce your charges. Instead of serving a more extended jail time and paying hefty fines, you could be subjected to a house arrest. The court may also require you to take part in community service. You can opt for community service instead of attending the mandatory alcohol education program. The court may subject you to 30 days of house arrest instead of 120 days in jail.
You could also take part in a jail alternative work program instead of jail time. Also, if you behave well while in custody, it could lead to lower charges. It's not easy to get a jail alternative since many judges aren't willing to grant jail alternatives for repeat DUI offenders. You will need to have an aggressive attorney to increase your likelihood of staying out of jail. The California law imposes harsh penalties for DUI offenses. Therefore, even if the court recommends alternative sentencing, you will still have to show up in court regularly. Consequently, it's impossible to take part in alternative sentencing and continue living normally, including going to work.
3rd DUI Offense and Three-Strikes Law
If you engage in drunk driving and cause an accident, leading to severe injuries or death of another person, you could face sentencing under the California Three-Strikes Law. People who have prior felony DUI convictions are likely to be sentenced under the Three-Strikes Law when they commit a 3rd offense. Under the Three-Strikes Law, penalties include imprisonment ranging from 25 years to life imprisonment. You might be lucky and get parole after serving the 25-year sentence.
Before the adoption of Prop 36 in 2012, many non-violent DUI offenders were sentenced to life imprisonment. You are likely to be sentenced under the Three-Strikes Law in the following instances:
- You have more than three past DUI convictions in the past ten years. If the previous convictions are all wet reckless, the subsequent conviction is sentenced under the Three-Strikes Law.
- You could be sentenced under the Three-Strikes Law if you commit second-degree murder or vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence.
- You could also face sentencing under the Three-Strikes Law if you are a habitual traffic offender (HTO) and you have a conviction for a felony DUI charge in the past. In this case, you will be sentenced under the Three-Strikes Law even if you don't cause an accident or fatalities due to intoxication.
An Arrest for a 3rd DUI While on Probation
You might be serving probation for a second DUI offense, only to be arrested for a 3rd DUI offense within ten years. In this case, the court will revoke your probation. The penalties for your 3rd DUI conviction will be more severe than the penalties for the 2nd DUI offense. The typical penalties for violating the probation terms include:
- Additional fines
- Withdrawal of the right for an expungement
- Additional probation or jail time
While on probation, you should not operate a vehicle under the influence. Other typical conditions of probation include:
- You shouldn't refuse to submit to a chemical test after an arrest for DUI
- Attending alcohol-anonymous gatherings
- You shouldn't engage in additional criminal activities
- Paying restitution if you cause an accident and causes losses to other people
What are the possible outcomes for a probation violation?
- The court may find you innocent of the violation or "not in violation." In this case, you will continue serving the current probation. You will still qualify for an expungement when you complete the probation.
- The court may consider the violation and reinstate you. The judge might decide to change some aspects of the probation.
- The other possible outcome of probation violation is revocation of the probation. In this case, the judge revokes your probation and recommends jail time instead.
Third Time DUI and a Restricted License
Under California law, a 3rd DUI offense conviction has severe consequences, including suspension of your driver's license for up to three years. During this time, you will have to depend on public transportation or rides from your friends and family members, which could be pretty inconvenient. You can apply for a restricted license after six months or a year of license suspension. You have to fulfill several conditions to qualify for a restricted license:
- You must provide proof that you have enrolled in an 18-month or 3-month multiple DUI offender program.
- It should be evident that you have agreed to take part in the multiple offender program.
- You must have agreed to install an ignition interlock device and retain it for the entire license suspension period.
- You should have proof of financial responsibility from your vehicle insurance company.
- You have to pay the restricted license fee to the DMV.
Fighting 3rd DUI Offense Charges
After an arrest for a 3rd DUI offense, you do not have to accept all the prosecutor's charges against you. Some of the legal defenses that you can use to fight the charges are:
You Were Not Under the Influence
With the help of your attorney, you can point out that you were not under the influence but merely driving poorly or erratically. When determining whether you are under the influence, the law enforcement officers mainly focus on your driving pattern. The police may arrest you and state that you were driving consistently with a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you were weaving or speeding, the police might suspect that you are intoxicated. An attorney can defend you by pointing out that sober people commit most traffic violations. Your attorney will also point out that your driving pattern is not an indicator of DUI.
Signs of Intoxication Do Not Imply Being Under the Influence
Your attorney will challenge the assumption that certain physical signs of intoxication mean or imply you were under the influence. The prosecutor will testify that you were under the influence if you had the following signs:
- Watery or red eyes
- A flushed face
- Slurred speech
- Unsteady gait
- Smell of alcohol
Your attorney can defend you against these allegations by pointing out the physical signs resulted from:
- A cold
- Eye irritation
Field Sobriety Tests Are Not a Measure of Sobriety
The police are likely to administer field sobriety tests after stopping your vehicle on suspicions of DUI. The arresting officer and the prosecutor tend to over-rely on FSTs. You and your attorney can challenge the FSTs' reliability. If you perform poorly in the FSTs, the police and the prosecutor assume that you are intoxicated. Your attorney will state that the poor performance in the FSTs was not due to intoxication but was affected by:
- Fatigue or your clothing
- Your natural physical coordination
- Other issues like the conditions in which the FSTs were administered
Other defenses that you can use to fight 3rd DUI charges in California are:
- You didn't drive
- Rising blood alcohol
- An underlying medical condition that escalated your BAC readings
- False mouth alcohol
- Mishandling of the blood samples during a DUI blood test
- The arresting officers didn't follow the right DUI testing procedures
Your DUI attorney will help you choose the most appropriate defense for your case
Expungement of a Third DUI Conviction
According to the California PC 1203.4, you can expunge a 3rd DUI conviction from your criminal record. A 3rd DUI conviction will remain on your record permanently and might affect your chances of getting your dream job or licensing. It would be helpful to have the conviction expunged from your criminal record. You have to meet several conditions to qualify for expungement:
- Completing your probation, including the terms of probation as ordered by the court
- You served your sentence in county jail, not in a state prison
- You served time in State prison but after the adoption of Prop 47. After the expungement of your 3rd DUI conviction, the conviction will no longer be available on public databases, and you can't be discriminated against based on it.
An expungement allows you to legally fail to acknowledge or deny that you were arrested for the crime you sealed or expunged. An expungement protects your privacy. It could let you take advantage of opportunities like school or a job.
An expungement of a 3rd DUI offense is particularly beneficial if you seek a state professional license. When applying for a state license, you must still disclose the conviction even after expungement. However, many state licensing agencies are likely to grant you a license if your conviction has been expunged. If you have completed the probation and the expungement process, many licensing agencies will favorably look upon your situation.
Find a Bakersfield DUI Attorney Near Me
The worst impact of a 3rd DUI offense is its long-term consequences, including a bad driving record and a criminal record. Working with an experienced DUI attorney gives you the best chance of avoiding a devastating outcome of your case. If you face 3rd DUI charges in Bakersfield, CA, we welcome you to contact the Bakersfield DUI Attorneys team and explore the options for fighting your DUI charges. Contact us at 661-215-5660 and speak to one of our attorneys.