When a person is pulled over for DUI in California and is later convicted of a 3rd offense DUI within 10 years, there are hefty penalties involved. Persons who are considered “habitual” offenders, meaning that they have been convicted a few times, face harsher repercussions.

What Are the Penalties for a 3rd DUI in California?

First, the DMV will automatically suspend your license, and then you will have about 10 days to request a DMV hearing. Second, the DMV will hold an administrative hearing to determine DMV penalties. It is important to note that the DMV matter is separate from any matter with the court. Thus, there will be additional penalties rising from the court matter as well. Some of these penalties may include:

  • Fines of up to $1,000 plus various court and administrative fees
  • Terms of imprisonment between 120 days and one year
  • Probation
  • Driver’s license suspensions or revocations
  • Various costs and expenses, including installation of an Ignition Interlock Device and court-ordered DUI classes.

It is important and recommended to attain an experienced lawyer to help you along the way. Both the criminal court process and the DMV hearing can be very intimidating and life changing. A Riverside DUI lawyer can lead you step by step through the process and explain your options.

What Counts as a 3rd Offense DUI?

Under California law, a third offense DUI occurs when you are convicted of three DUIs within a 10-year period. If you have prior DUI convictions outside this 10-year window, they should not count against you. DUI offenses may involve convictions for drunk or drugged driving, as well as “wet reckless” convictions. DUI arrests that do not lead to a conviction are not considered prior offenses and will not lead to a third offense DUI charge.

What Penalties Are Associated With a DUI Conviction?

Like other DUI charges, you may face penalties under two different systems. Your arrest may lead to prosecution in the criminal justice court system, and you will also face administrative penalties with the California DMV.

Criminal Penalties

A third DUI conviction within 10 years can result in your designation as a “habitual offender,” resulting in significant penalties. They may include:

  • Mandatory 120 days to one year in jail, although certain circumstances may lead to prison time (DUI with Injury)
  • Revocation of your driver’s license
  • Fine of up to $1,000
  • Additional penalty assessments which can increase your penalties and fines by thousands of dollars
  • Up to 30 months of DUI classes
  • Court-ordered substance abuse treatment
  • Mandatory interlock device on your vehicle — you will have to cover the cost of the device and its installation

And as a habitual offender, if you’re caught driving on your suspended or revoked license, the State of California will impose even more penalties. You’ll also face a more severe sentence if you refused an alcohol or drug test, you injured or killed someone, or you were driving with a very high BAC (blood-alcohol content).

Does Every 3rd Offense DUI Conviction Require Substance Abuse Treatment?

While it is within the judge’s discretion to order substance abuse treatment, it is a common consequence associated with a 3rd offense DUI. However, that doesn’t mean you will have to attend an intensive, inpatient program.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, the judge may require you to attend a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) instead. Your lawyer can provide the judge with information and suggestions that lead to a practical and realistic treatment plan.

Sometimes, the judge will also order other penalties, which may include a court-ordered SCRAM device, an ankle bracelet that detects alcohol in your body. Other times, the judge can order that you stay under house arrest or attend an emotionally challenging morgue tour. Your Riverside DUI attorney can help you address these possible penalties.

Administrative Penalties

Like any DUI arrest, a third offense DUI automatically triggers a drivers’ license suspension — unless you appeal this decision within 10 days of your arrest. If you did not receive a suspension notice at the time of your arrest, you must appeal within ten days of receiving this notice. However, a 3rd offense DUI suspension from the California DMV involves stricter penalties:

  • At least a one-year driver’s license suspension
  • You cannot request a restricted driver’s license, which allows you to drive to and from school and work for at least one year
  • Once you regain your driver’s license, you will have to obtain costly SR-22 insurance

However, if you request a DMV hearing within 10 days, these penalties will be postponed until after your hearing. If you prevail at your hearing, you won’t face these penalties at all.

It’s important to remember that you have the right to an attorney, but it’s in your best interest to find one with extensive experience handling DMV claims. At the Law Offices of Scott Henry, we understand the complexities and nuances of DMV license suspension appeals. We can help you decide whether an in-person or phone hearing is in your best interest, whether you’ll want to question the arresting officer, and whether you have compelling legal defenses.

How Do I Fight the Charges Against Me?

If you’re facing a third offense DUI, you need to be realistic and be proactive in making a plan. Prosecutors and judges take a tough stances on DUI cases involving repeat offenders. You’ll need help from a DUI defense lawyer who can investigate your case, identify your best possible defenses, and craft a sophisticated strategy for you.

Depending on your situation, you may have a wide variety of defenses, including:

  • Violations of your constitutional rights and other laws
  • Procedural defenses involving the legality of your arrest, the search and seizure, and other issues
  • Technical errors with the blood, breath, and other testing performed by the authorities

Depending on the strength of these defenses, your lawyer may be able to get your 3rd offense DUI charges reduced or even dropped altogether. However, the sooner you contact a DUI defense lawyer, the better. These investigations take time and effort to build. And if you wait until the last minute, you may be at a serious disadvantage.

Consult With a Riverside DUI Lawyer

The Law Offices of Scott Henry is one of Southern California’s most respected DUI defense law firms. We focus our practice on the aggressive defense of DUI charges, and our team knows how to build a solid defense. If you or a loved one are facing repeat DUI charges, contact our office today.

Our Riverside DUI attorneys make it a point to work closely with our clients and to clearly explain all aspects of their cases. With situations in which the stakes are heightened – such as in the case of a third DUI – we work tirelessly you provide you with the support and representation you need to protect your future.

Learn more about your case and defense by calling us today. We represent clients throughout Southern California, including Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Orange County.