If you have been convicted of DUI in the past, you might think that you know what’s in store for you with your third charge. Actually, you need to prepare yourself. A third DUI in the state of California carries stiffer penalties than a first or second offense. There are also other factors that can play a role. As always, the best defense is to avoid getting behind the wheel if you’ve had a drink. However, if you are arrested and charged with a third DUI, you’ll need to know the following.
Losing Your License
All DUIs come with some duration of license suspension. A third DUI carries an automatic three-year suspension, but there are ways that you can obtain a restricted license after 180 days of suspension. This limited license will allow you to drive from home to work and back. It will also allow you to drive to and from your alcohol class, but that is all.
If you’re found guilty of a third DUI, you can count on spending time in county jail. That is better than the possibilities if you get a fourth DUI, in which case you would spend time in state prison. Most counties in California require that you spend 120 days in jail for a third DUI, but that’s just a minimum. The judge might decide to increase that time to anywhere up to a full year. That’s a long time to remain behind bars. In addition to jail time, you’ll also face up to five years on probation.
If either of your previous DUIs was a felony charge, then you face greater hurdles. With a previous felony DUI, your third charge automatically changes to a felony charge as well, even if it does not meet any of the state’s other requirements for a felony DUI.
Other mitigating factors include whether you were driving over 20 miles an hour above the speed limit, what the weather conditions were at the time, and if you had a minor under the age of 14 in the vehicle.
Like in all other DUI cases, you’ll need to file for a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. This halts the automatic suspension process and gives you a hearing before the DMV. If you win at this hearing, you can keep your license, at least until your DUI case is resolved in a court of law. Remember that the DMV hearing and your court case are separate. Winning one does not mean you will win the other.
You have the right to refuse a breath test, urine test or blood test. However, refusing these tests opens you up to additional penalties. In the case of a third refusal of testing, your license will be automatically suspended for a full year in addition to the suspension duration set forth in your court case. It also means that you cannot apply for a limited/restricted license of any type for the entire time your license is suspended.
The Best Defense
The best defense for a third DUI is to work with an expert DUI attorney. There are serious ramifications if you’re found guilty, including a long stint in jail and the loss of your driving privileges. Only an experienced DUI attorney can help you overcome these difficulties.