One of the punishments you are likely to face for a third DUI offense is license suspension. DUI offenses are priorable in California, meaning the penalties will be steeper for each subsequent offense. For the DMV to suspend your license for a third offense, it means you have two prior convictions on DUI, where your license has also been suspended. These offenses must have been committed within ten years. If you are facing a third DUI conviction, you will likely face two kinds of license suspensions, as we will discuss below. The penalties, as well as the license suspension for a third-time offender, are steeper. The period your license will be suspended will be more extended than in the first two DUI cases. If you are facing third DUI offense charges, get in touch with us at the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm for expert legal help.

Types of License Suspension for a Third DUI in California

A person convicted of a third DUI offense faces two suspensions on their license. When the case goes to trial in court, one of the penalties is license suspension. The court will prohibit the defendant from driving unless he or she meets certain conditions.

It is essential to understand that the court and the DMV in California are two independent bodies, and each has the mandate to make its decisions according to the case presented before it. However, when each entity gives its penalty to the defendant, the most extended suspension is considered more. This means if the court granted a suspension of three years and the DMV granted two years, the three-year suspension is likely to be imposed.

The outcome of a court case can influence the DMV to revoke the suspension. If there is sufficient evidence that the defendant did not commit a DUI offense, they will be acquitted of the offense. The only time, however, the DMV will consider the court’s decision is when the case is not dismissed on a technicality, but on the facts of the case. 

Driver’s License Suspension by the Court

If you are facing a third DUI offense and you get convicted, there are several penalties you will be subjected to. One of the most severe penalties is the suspension of your driver’s license for three years. The court finds a third offense to be very serious, and the penalties issued to the defendant must be equally severe.

Despite the suspension, however, the DMV may permit you to keep driving. This is only possible upon installing an IID device in your vehicle for at least two years. Without the installation of an IID device in all the vehicles you drive, you will not be allowed to operate the vehicle.

Suspension of a Driver’s License by the DMV

When you are detained and charged with a third DUI offense, your license is suspended temporarily by the DMV. However, a defendant has a right to request a DMV hearing to defend their case and avoid license suspension. If you lose at the DMV hearing, your license will be suspended for a year.

However, as mentioned above, you can continue to enjoy the privileges of driving if you install an IID device.

License Suspension by the DMV for a Third Offense

When you are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, the arresting officer will require you to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol level in your system. In California, the law gives guidelines on how much alcohol level is considered illegal.

Once the tests are carried out, and it is determined that you were driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, you will be charged with a DUI offense. Similarly, if drugs intoxicated you, and through a blood test, you will also face DUI charges.

The arresting officer will take your driving license and send it to the DMV. In the meantime, you will be issued a temporary license that you can use until your DMV hearing. This temporary license is for only thirty days because the DMV hearing is typically heard in ten days from the arrest date.

Although it is challenging to win DMV hearings, it is still possible to win. With your experienced DUI lawyer, you can present a compelling defense or argument that may compel the DMV to reinstate your license. A lawyer is critical to have because he or she knows the questions to ask the arresting officer as well as challenge the evidence brought against you.

In California, most criminal cases do not get formally punished until the court sentences you, or when you accept a plea bargain. Unfortunately, a DUI offense is not always like that, especially with the DMV. As earlier stated, the decisions by the DMV are independent of those of a DUI court.

Provided that you are legally arrested for a third DUI offense, you will face administrative penalties from the DMV. These penalties include having your license suspended and being charged with administrative fees. This is irrespective of having a court conviction for the offense or not.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in California is the body that administers the license suspension. If your BAC level on arrest is 0.08% or higher, you will automatically have your license suspended. Similarly, if you refuse to be subjected to a chemical test, your license will be suspended. This automatic suspension of your license is referred to as an administrative per se suspension. The suspension is typically triggered by a DUI arrest and not by the court’s conviction.

The DMV hearing does not happen automatically. When you are arrested for a DUI offense, and your license is taken away, the DMV will write to you and inform you of the impending suspension of your license. You are then allowed to request a hearing to defend yourself against the suspension. This request must reach the DMV in ten days from the date of arrest. If you do not request the hearing, your rights to challenge the suspension will be forfeited.

If the hearing is not carried out, the DMV will uphold your driver’s license suspension, and you will be denied the privilege of driving for a year. If you request the hearing and lose, your license suspension remains for the same period. The suspension for a year starts to count after the thirty days lapse. When the court suspends your license for three years, while you have another year’s suspension by the DMV, the two penalties will be served concurrently.

Proving License Suspension at the Hearing by the DMV

When you are arrested for a third DUI offense, you have a right to defend your license suspension from the DMV. Once the DMV grants a hearing date, your lawyer will go through the evidence that the DMV has against you and devise suitable defense strategies.

Before the license is suspended, the state is mandated to provide compelling evidence of why the arresting police officer arrested you as well as prove that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The state is required to show that the officer had reason to suspect you of drunk driving. An officer cannot pull over a car without probable cause.

If an officer notices you have violated traffic rules or your car has a broken tail light, or you are driving dangerously, they will stop you. In the process, they may smell alcohol on you and decide to investigate further. If evidence is found to suggest you may be intoxicated, you will be subjected to field sobriety tests.

If you are not on probation for another DUI offense or are not below 21 years, you do not have to submit to the field sobriety tests. However, this does not prevent the officer from arresting you if they are convinced you are intoxicated. Once arrested and at the station, you must agree to a chemical breath test. If you decline to this, you will receive an automatic license suspension.

You can also be arrested at a DUI checkpoint where police officers conduct random checks. This process is also lawful as long as the police follow the guidelines of erecting and conducting a checkpoint.

At the DMV hearing, your lawyer will challenge the arrest if it was not lawful or if your rights were infringed. On the other hand, the state needs to show the arrest was legal, the defendant’s rights were respected, and the arresting officer had valid reasons to stop the driver.

Additionally, if the defendant declined to be given a chemical breath test at the station, this is also presented. The DMV will also require the results from the chemical test if the defendant submitted to it. If the tests show the defendant drove with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, the defendant was driving beyond the legal limit.

When evidence against you is presented at the DMV hearing, the officer presiding over the hearing will take it all into consideration. The arresting police officer is also required to testify before the hearing, and your lawyer can challenge his/her testimony as well. After the hearing is concluded, the DMV will inform you if the suspension will be revoked or upheld.

Why You Should Request a DMV Hearing

One of the essential advantages of requesting a hearing date is that you will have an opportunity to commence your case to avoid automatic suspension of your license. You can ask your attorney to request a hearing in the ten-day window. This will ensure your suspension is set aside until the determination of the hearing. When you have an attorney defend you, in most cases, it increases your probability of getting the suspension dismissed.

A hearing is also necessary because you get an opportunity to overcome the license suspension. Sometimes an officer may not come to testify or may give insufficient testimony that your lawyer can challenge. However, if you do not request the hearing, even when you may have won it, you automatically get your license suspended.

The same attorney you hire for the DMV hearing will also benefit you because they will have a chance to evaluate the evidence against you before your court trial commences. If you lose at the DMV hearing, it may also benefit your lawyer by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your case. This is important in coming up with defense strategies that will be beneficial to you. Your attorney has the mandate to safeguard your rights, even at the DMV hearing. Taking them along helps because some of the things you may say can be used as evidence against you at the court trial. Your attorney will be able to advise you on what to say and what not to say to help your case.

One of the best ways to ensure your license is not suspended is by ensuring you are found innocent in court. A DMV hearing will help prepare your lawyer to give the best possible defense in court to ensure you are not found guilty of the offense. If the court process finds you innocent of the offense and your innocence is not upheld on a technicality, the suspension of your license may be lifted. If your license is still suspended after the DMV hearing, your lawyer can help you negotiate to have a restricted driver’s license upon installing an ignition interlock device in your car.

Understanding the Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

An IID is a type of a breathalyzer device that is usually fixed on your car’s dashboard. This device requires a driver to provide a breath sample into it before starting their vehicle. The device is designed to prevent the starting of the engine if alcohol is detected in the breath sample provided.

The DMV permits drivers with suspended licenses on DUI charges to keep driving, provided that the device is installed in their vehicle. If you are facing DUI charges for the third time, you will be required to have the device installed in your car for at least two years.

You will receive a restricted license, meaning you can only drive if the IID is installed. If you decline to install it, you will not be qualified to obtain a restricted driver’s license in California. In addition to the IID, you must fulfill other requirements to get a restricted license. 

You will be required to fill a form known as the SR22. This is a form from your insurance provider that shows you have taken auto liability insurance as required by the state. Additionally, you must attend and finish DUI classes as well as pay all the necessary fees regarding getting a restricted driver’s license.

Restricted Driver’s License by the DMV

This is a different license from the ignition interlock device restricted license. With this license, the driver will be required to attend and complete one year of a rehabilitation program. Some programs last eighteen months while others last 30 months. Depending on what the court has ordered you to attend, after completing a year on the program, you can apply to get a restricted license.

With this license, you do not have the privilege of driving anywhere. The license will only allow you to drive to restricted places such as school, hospital, or work.

In obtaining the license, you will again be required to have filled the SR22 form that indicates you have an auto insurance cover. The DMV will also require you to pay $125 for the license and fit an IID device in your car.

How Criminal Court Proceedings and DMV Hearings Relate for a Third Offense

When charges against you for a third DUI offense are brought up, the criminal proceedings may not start immediately. The prosecutor must receive the police report, analyze it, and bring up charges against you in court. Sometimes the prosecutor may find there is insufficient evidence against the motorist and decline to bring up charges against them.

The DMV proceedings begin immediately after receiving a report from the arresting officer. The report will indicate the arrest and if the defendant had a BAC of 0.08% or higher. The report may also show the driver declined to submit to the chemical breathalyzer test. The DMV receives this report electronically, which prompts them to start the proceedings.

Whether the prosecution files its case in court or not, the DMV proceedings will take place once an arrest has been made. This will determine whether to suspend the driver’s license or not. This means a driver can get their license suspended by the DMV, even when the prosecution or the court dismissed their case.

In both the criminal proceedings and DMV hearings, the prosecution and the defense are allowed to present their arguments and cross-examine every piece of evidence provided. In both cases, the state is expected to prove the driver breached the law.

The places where the hearings take place differ. DMV hearings are carried out in a secluded space or room at their offices and are directed by DMV officers. The DMV officers are not required to be lawyers or judges; neither must they have a background in law. This means the hearings at the DMV are not as formal as court proceedings and take a few hours to complete.

In contrast, court proceedings are overseen by a judge. Also, the prosecutors, as well as the attorneys, are trained lawyers. The hearing is typically in a formal setting in a court of law that is open to all people. Additionally, court proceedings take a longer time, in most cases, an entire day to be completed.

In criminal proceedings, the prosecutor must prove specific facts of the offense to be true or beyond doubt by presenting compelling evidence against the defendant. The prosecutor must prove the defendant did operate the said vehicle while intoxicated at the time of the arrest. In contrast, during a DMV hearing, the arresting police officer just needs to prove that the arrest was legal as well as the stopping. The officer also needs to show the motorist recorded highly in the BAC results or refused to submit to the test. This is enough to get the DMV to suspend your license. This is because the law does not require them to prove this beyond doubt.

Reinstating your License after Suspension

After your license has been suspended following a third DUI offense, to get it reinstated, you must go personally to the DMV offices.

Typically, a reinstatement will require you to finish any prison time awarded, suspension of license, and the completion of the programs ordered by the court. These include completing the community service hours awarded and DUI classes.

Once the above is done, you will visit your nearest DMV offices, together with your application documents. You must also have bought an SR22 auto insurance policy designed specifically for high-risk motorists. This policy is also more expensive than ordinary policies because of the risk the insurance company feels they are taking with you.

You must also pay reinstatement fees as required by the DMV to reinstate your license. After this, you will apply for a form of reinstatement provided by the DMV. The DMV will then process your application and issue you with your driver’s license back.

License Suspension for Out of State Drivers

Sometimes a driver holding an out of state driver’s license may get their license suspended in California. It is essential to know that if you commit a DUI offense in California, even with an out of state license, the DMV can suspend your license.

To get it reinstated, you must complete the sentence imposed on you or the suspension time as issued. Once this is done, you will apply to get the suspension terminated to have your license back.

Find a San Jose DUI Lawyer Near Me

It is inconvenient to have your license suspended because you may not be able to run your day to day activities. It is possible to avoid suspension of your license by involving a DUI lawyer who is conversant with both DMV cases and court cases. Even though it is not a must to have an attorney represent you in the DMV hearing, it is crucial to have one because of the experience and skills the attorney has in these cases. If you are arrested for a third offense DUI in San Jose, we at the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm are here to help you. We can represent you in the DMV hearings as well as prepare evidence for your court case. Get in touch with us today at 408-777-6630.