In California, DUIs are categorized as ‘priorable’ offenses. The term ‘priorable’ implies that the punishments for drunk driving typically become more severe after every DUI conviction within a period of ten years. San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm is made up of a team of highly skilled lawyers who will be dedicated and committed to helping you with your third offense drunk driving case. San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm mainly serves clients who have been charged in the Bay Area.

The Meaning of a Third Offense DUI

If you happen to be charged with third-time DUI, this means that you have ever been convicted of DUI two times within a period of ten years from the time when you were first convicted. So that you can be convicted of third offense DUI, the prosecution must prove the following two essential facts;

  • You were driving while under intoxication
  • You exceeded the California BAC Limit while you were driving

Generally, DUI offenses in California are misdemeanors. Therefore, you will be entitled to a jury trial in which you will have to fight for your freedom. You can also go for a DMV hearing and try to prevent your driving license from being suspended.

Qualified prosecutors usually present the following evidence to demonstrate to the court that you should be convicted of DUI;

  • A brief analysis of how you were driving shows that you had been intoxicated
  • You failed the most common sobriety tests like the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test, and the walk and turn test
  • You exhibited some intoxication symptoms such as an alcoholic odor, bloodshot eyes, unsteady walk, and slurred speech
  • The results of your BAC test were above 0.08%

If you hire a competent DUI attorney, he or she can enter into a plea bargain agreement with the prosecution to reduce your charges. In such a case, you may be charged with lesser offenses such as speeding, dry reckless, or wet reckless.

What are the Punishments for Third-Time DUI in California?

A third-time drunk driving offense is considered to be much more grievous when compared to a first and second time DUI. Therefore, its penalties differ; and they have the most aggravating consequences.

There are no standard penalties for the crime of third DUI in California. The magnitude of the punishments will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. However, there are some normal punishments which third-time DUI offenders must face. Some of these punishments include;

  • Informal probation of up to five years
  • A jail term which does not exceed one year
  • Paying a fine which may be between $2500 - $3000
  • IID installation in your car for around two years
  • Mandatory attendance in a California DUI School for 30 months
  • Revocation of your driving license for three years. When three years lapse, you will get a restricted license instead of your full driving privileges.

These sentences also vary per the county in which you are charged. If you are given probation, you will have to abide by some or all of the following conditions;

  • You won't be permitted to drive while you are intoxicated, even if your BAC level is significantly low
  • In case you are arrested for subsequent DUI, you will be denied the right to refuse to take the BAC test
  • You must attend either a Narcotic Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meeting
  • You must compensate the people who had injuries or suffered from loss and destruction of property due to the accident you caused because of drunk driving

Will I Lose My Driving License After Being Convicted with a Third Offense DUI?

Yes, you may fail to get back your driving license if you don’t win your third offense DUI case. In fact, you face the threat of your license being revoked; or it can be suspended for a very long time. Also, you can be designated as a ‘Habitual Traffic Offender’ by the California Motor Vehicle Department. If you manage to get a restriction on your license, you must install an IID in your vehicle before you are legally allowed to drive it.

You can get back your driving license if you use the right legal channels. There are two main situations that can make you lose your license after being charged with third-time DUI. The first situation is when you are convicted of this crime, and the second situation is when you lose your DMV hearing or if you don’t request one within the given window period.

If you had two prior DUI convictions, the court will suspend your license for three years. On the other hand, the DMV authorities will only suspend your driver’s license for one year, even if you have two past drunk driving records.

Sometimes, you can get a restricted license immediately after you have been charged with third offense DUI. This can only happen if you had submitted to a BAC test and had an IID device in your vehicle at the time of the arrest. If you obtain a restricted license, you will be permitted to drive to wherever you want. This is based on the condition that you have installed an ignition interlock device in your car. You must install this device immediately since you won’t have any other way of tricking the authorities.

If you refused to take a BAC test, you will be subjected to tougher punishment. For instance, you will have to face a mandatory three-year period of license revocation, and you won’t be entitled to a restricted license when you are under suspension.

Will I Have a Permanent Criminal Record If I End Up Being Convicted for a Third Offense DUI?

No, you won’t have a bad criminal history if you end up being convicting for a third offense DUI. Fortunately, you can erase your third-time drunk driving conviction from history books if you get an expungement.

You can expunge your DUI conviction if you complete your probation period. To offset this expungement process, you will have to file a petition at a California court. The judge will review this petition, and he or she may grant you an expungement depending on the merits of your case. If you get the expungement, you will have to withdraw your no contest plea. Then, you must enter a plea of not guilty, and your case will be dismissed.

Aggravating Factors Can Increase the Standard Penalties of Third Offense DUI

There are some factors that can aggravate the standard penalties of third offense DUI. Some of these factors include;

  • Your BAC level exceeds 0.15%
  • You had refused to take an alcoholic chemical test
  • You caused an accident while drunk driving
  • While you were driving under the influence, you had a child who is below 14 years inside your vehicle
  • If you committed the DUI offense when you are below 21 years
  • If you were speeding and at the same time drunk driving

You will receive an enhanced penalty based on the magnitude of the aggravating factors in your case. In some situations, the judge will look at your past DUI history to gauge whether you deserve an enhanced penalty. Clearly, a bad criminal history with two or more aggravating factors can drastically reduce the chances of you escaping jail.

Sometimes, your third misdemeanor drunk driving charge can be upgraded to a felony. In fact, you should expect being charged with felony DUI if you caused an accident which brought about the loss of life and severe physical injuries while you were drunk driving.

The Alternative Third Offense DUI Sentencing Options in California

Don’t worry if you get convicted of third offense DUI in California since you may not end up in county jail. This is because there are some sentencing alternatives such as roadside work, house arrest, electronic monitoring, or community service.

Most attorneys who have not specialized in California DUI do not know that these alternative sentencing options exist. Even if they know, they may not be aware of effective methods to convince both the judge and the prosecution to avoid sentencing you to jail. This is the primary reason why you should hire an attorney who has vast experience in drunk driving offenses in California.

Challenging The First Two Prior DUI Convictions

You can challenge your first two prior DUI convictions, even if they are valid. The court usually considers your past two DUI convictions within ten years from the day when you were first convicted of a first time DUI to the day when you were arrested for third-time DUI. If your two previous drunk driving offenses were within this period, the court will hold that you have been legitimately charged with third offense DUI and you will face more severe penalties if you are convicted. If these two prior offenses are not precisely within ten years, speak to your attorney. He or she can challenge these two prior DUI convictions, and you will be charged with either first or second time DUI.

Even if you committed your prior DUI offenses outside California, you could still be charged with third offense DUI within California. However, your attorney can turn around this situation in your favor and help you win your case.

Comparing First Time, Second Time, and Third Time DUI

A first time, second time, and third-time DUI offense are considered misdemeanors if there are no aggravating factors. However, all of them can be upgraded to felony DUI in case there are some aggravating factors in your situation. You will be charged with felony DUI if you have been previously convicted of more than three drunk driving offenses.

Generally, the penalties of a Third time and second time DUI are much more serious than First time DUI. The punishment for first time DUI includes a jail term that does not exceed six months, a fine which may be up to $1000, and a suspension of your driving license for at least four months. The penalty for a second offense DUI is a jail term which may be up to one year, a fine which may be between $390 - $1000, and a two-year suspension period of your driver’s license.

What Will Happen If I am Arrested for Third DUI Within the Probation Period of a Prior DUI?

Your situation will worsen if you have been arrested for 3rd DUI while you are still under probation of prior DUIs. You will have to worry about your new DUI arrest, your pending DMV hearing for that arrest, and your violation of the terms of probation. In such cases, you should select a DUI attorney who can focus on multiple drunk driving charges.

You can request your attorney to assist you in moving the violation of probation charges to the same court which handles your DUI case. Moreover, you will have a hard time convincing the DMV authorities to give you back your driving license. This is because the DMV official will not focus on whether you have breached the standard California BAC limit of 0.08%. In fact, if your BAC level was above 0.01%, you may lose your DMV case. Furthermore, you won’t qualify for a restricted driver’s license even if you opt for an IID installation.

You will also risk being sentenced for a longer period. The minimum third offense DUI jail sentence is 120 days, while the maximum sentence is one year. If, for example, you were under probation for second DUI and you only served its 4-day minimum jail sentence; the judge can make you serve an extra 361 days in jail as a punishment for violation of probation terms. These extra days will be added to your third offense DUI jail term punishment, and you will have to spend around two years without your freedom.

How An Attorney Can Help Fight a Third Offense DUI

No matter how grievous a third offense DUI crime seems to be, you can still fight these charges with the help of a reliable California DUI attorney. Don’t be surprised if your charges are dismissed and you are acquitted if you have the right attorney by your side.

So that you are well prepared, you should contact an attorney at the exact time when you were arrested. This way, your lawyer will have sufficient time to prepare sufficiently for your case.

If you hire the right attorney, he or she will put in a lot of effort to help you win your case. You must have an attorney to assist you in the following;

1.      Evidence Gathering

A great DUI attorney will successfully build your case by evidence gathering. He or she will summon witnesses who can speak out in your defense. Your attorney can also discover some further information that may be beneficial to your case. For instance, he or she can get a hold of some video or audio recordings which may prove that you are innocent.

2.      Legal Analysis

After your attorney has gathered enough evidence which may be in your favor, he or she will then interpret it. This evidence will be the foundation of drafted motions that will be filed in court to support your case.

3.      Getting What You Want

Most DUI attorneys have the technical know-how to navigate around a third offense drunk driving charge. One way is through plea bargaining where you can get reduced charges which have less grievous penalties. Most DUIs do not go beyond the trial stage. This is why you must hire an attorney who has good bargaining and negotiation skills to obtain the best deals.

What are the Legal Defenses to 3rd Time DUI? 

A third-time DUI arrest doesn’t necessarily lead to a drunk driving conviction. If you have a good defense strategy, you can easily fight off the consequences of DUI. There are three primary categories of DUI defenses;

  • Those that show that you were not intoxicated
  • Those that demonstrate that your driving was not impaired by intoxication
  • Those that illustrate that the police officer who arrested you for drunk driving didn't follow proper legal procedures

Here are some examples of defenses to third-time DUI;

1.      You Were Merely Driving Poorly but Not Under Intoxication

You can argue before the court that you were just driving erratically, and you were not influenced by any drugs or alcohol. The prosecution usually focuses on your driving pattern, and it will try proving before the court that you were driving carelessly because you were intoxicated.

A skilled DUI attorney will disprove this evidence by asserting that you were driving safely and properly. If you are unable to prove that you were not driving recklessly, your attorney will illustrate before the court that bad driving patterns do not necessarily predict that the driver is under intoxication.

2.      The Physical Symptoms of Drunk Driving Do Not Necessarily Imply That You Were Intoxicated

This is one of the best defenses to DUI in California. Typically, most law enforcement officers will arrest you for driving under intoxication because of your physical appearance. He or she will observe specific physical and objective symptoms such as red eyes, unsteady gait, slurred speech, an alcoholic odor, and a flushed face. Your DUI attorney will defend you before the court by giving them some innocent explanations which could have caused these signs. For example, he or she can assert that you had an allergy, eye irritation, cold, or you were just fatigued.

3.      The BAC Test Was Not Accurate

Maybe the arresting officer tested you with a faulty BAC kit, which indicated high results. Also, these BAC kits should undergo routine maintenance checks. If your attorney can prove that the authorities did not frequently maintain these kits, you will be set free.

Furthermore, your lawyer can argue that the amount of alcohol present in your mouth led to a falsely high result. For instance, maybe you had taken mouthwash or cough syrup right before the test, which left some residual alcoholic content in your mouth that reflected on the chemical breath test.

4.      The Arresting Officer Failed to Follow All the California Regulations on BAC Testing

The police officer should comply with Title 17 California's Regulations on Breath and Blood Testing before arresting you. Some of these regulations include observing you for fifteen minutes before giving you the alcohol chemical test and properly handling your blood or urine testing samples.

If the arresting officer didn't observe these regulations, then your DUI attorney can weaken the prosecution's case by testifying that the test results could be tainted. This will give you leverage in your trial, and you may be set free.

5.      You Were Not Intoxicated Since You Were Mentally Alert

Most arresting officers usually focus on the physical signs of intoxication only. If you had been mentally alert at the time of the arrest, you can utilize it as a defense. Of course, it is quite unusual for a drunk person to be physically impaired and at the same time, mentally alert. If you were mentally alert, it should serve as a conclusive proof that your BAC level was not high. For example, Peter is flagged down by a traffic officer because he is operating his cell phone while driving. Peter remains coherent and polite, and he answers all the questions appropriately and does everything he is requested by the police officer to do. However, he still exhibits physical symptoms of impairment, and his BAC level is 0.075. Peter is subsequently arrested for DUI. His attorney can retain an expert in DUI toxicology as a witness. This expert can testify that since Peter was mentally alert, he was not intoxicated.

Find an Experienced Third Offense DUI Attorney Near Me

If you have been arrested for third-time DUI in California, don’t attempt to fight your criminal charges by yourself since you may easily lose. Our main role is to help you build a strong legal defense. Call the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm today at 408-777-6630 to get legal advice and expert representation.