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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

What Happens If You Get 3 DUI in California? – Understanding State Laws

Those accused of drunk driving are subject to different punishments under California's DUI laws, but what happens when that offense is recurring?

A third-DUI offense can be punished by up to a year in county jail, expensive fines, long probation, and more! Here's a look at what can happen when a person gets a 3rd DUI in California.

Facing a Third-DUI Offense in California: Potential Penalties

Facing a Third-DUI Offense in California: Potential Penalties

As mentioned, California laws define a 3rd DUI as a misdemeanor. Therefore, it carries the following penalties:

  • Mandatory jail sentence of up to 120 years

  • Informal probation (three to five years)

  • Fines and penalties assessments of $2,500 to $3,000

  • Ignition interlock device (IID) for at least two years

  • 3-year driver's license suspension or revocation – It can become a restricted license, allowing defendants to drive as long as they have an ignition interlock device

  • 30-month court-approved DUI school or education program

In some cases, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, defendants must attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NAA) meetings and pay restitution. Some must also engage in a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD) Victim Panel. Goss Law can answer questions such as, "How much is a DUI in California"?

What Does a Probation for a Third DUI Conviction Carry?

Defendants must serve a probation period that usually carries a commitment not to commit other crimes and drive with no measurable amount of alcohol in their blood. In addition, those facing a third DUI conviction must also agree to submit to a chemical test if they are arrested for driving under the influence again.

Can Penalties for a 3rd DUI in California Be Aggravated?

Under California law, a person who commits a 3rd DUI may face harsher penalties in the following aggravating circumstances:

  • A related accident occurred.

  • Drivers refused to submit to chemical tests.

  • Defendants had a 0.15% or higher blood alcohol content (BAC).

  • There were children under 14 in the car (It also violates child endangerment regulations).

  • DUI offenders also drove at excessive speeds.

  • Drivers were under 21 when they committed the DUI offense.

California can also label a person who drives with a suspended o revoked license as a "habitual traffic offender." These individuals are often subject to aggravated penalties.

People who commit a third DUI are also subject to harsher penalties than those carried by prior DUI convictions. The main difference is the mandatory jail time since it is usually longer for a person considered a "habitual traffic offender."

Third DUI in California: Is It Considered a Felony?

No, it isn't. California laws establish that 3rd DUI offenses are misdemeanors as long as they don't cause serious injuries. Therefore, in some cases, experienced Sacramento DUI attorneys can help reduce some penalties.

How Can 3rd DUI Offenders Avoid County Jail Time in California?

Those facing harsh penalties for a third DUI can negotiate the sentence to serve jail time on house arrest or enroll in re-education/rehabilitation programs, such as live-in-drug or work-furlough programs.

However, the biggest way to avoid going to jail after committing a 3rd DUI is to fight the charges. With the help of a seasoned DUI attorney, defendants can reduce the offense or even get it dismissed. These are the defenses that experts often use:

  • Police officers didn't have reasonable suspicion to bring the vehicle to a stop or didn't administer standardized field sobriety tests properly

  • Law enforcement officers didn't have probable cause to make the DUI arrest

  • A defective breathalyzer was used

  • The breathalyzer result wasn't accurate because the defendant had GERD or acid reflux

  • The defendant had dental work that caused the breathalyzer to give an inaccurate result

  • The driver has a rising blood alcohol

  • The blood test samples were contaminated in some way

  • Those who calibrated the breathalyzer let their certificate expire

If DUI attorneys are successful, 3rd DUI charges may be dismissed entirely or reduced to dry reckless, exhibition of speed or speed ex, or wet reckless.

However, based on California's DUI laws, arguing that the defendant drove safely or was unimpaired is not an effective defense. In this state, those who drive with 0.08% BAC can be charged with DUI.

Can Someone Get a Licensed Back After a 3rd DUI in California?

Another question that people often have about 3rd DUI offenses has to do with the license. Can a driver get their license back if they are charged with a 3rd DUI?

In California, it is possible to prevent a driver's license from being revoked after a 3rd DUI offense. The two main options available are to win the criminal case and succeed at the DMV hearing.

However, attorneys can negotiate these penalties to help defendants keep their license (even though it's often suspended) and continue to drive with an IID installed for at least 24 months.

Final Thoughts - Do 3rd DUI Offenders Need a Lawyer?

Final Thoughts - Do 3rd DUI Offenders Need a Lawyer?

Facing a jail sentence for a DUI conviction can be devastating for anyone. However, defendants can seek help from a DUI lawyer to get their cases dismissed or the charges reduced.

A seasoned DUI lawyer can negotiate alternative sentences, such as house arrest or treatment options, to prevent defendants from having to serve lengthy jail time.

Furthermore, DUI attorneys are always willing to fight for the defendant's rights to ensure that the legal process is completely transparent!

Anyone facing a third DUI conviction is encouraged to contact an attorney and seek legal advice to prepare a strong defense, negotiate penalties, and more.

In addition, prosecutors are often willing to negotiate with defendants who are represented by private attorneys rather than those who defend themselves or rely on public defenders.

How Can Goss Law Help DUI Offenders

Those who have been charged with a 3rd offense DUI have the right to seek legal counsel, and our law firm is here to help!

At Goss Law, we have a seasoned team of attorneys ready to help defendants fight for their rights and defend their California DUI cases. Goss Law has more information on how to expunge a DUI in California.

We know how a long jail time or other harsh penalties can impact people's lives. Therefore, we always go the extra mile to get the best possible results! Contact us and get a free consultation today!


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