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. Therefore, if you have been charged with drinking and driving multiple times, speak with an Orange County third offense DUI lawyer.

What Counts as a Third DUI Offense?

Under state law, a third drinking and driving offense 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. Some 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 Are the Penalties for a Third DUI in Orange County?

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. 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

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).

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 local DUI lawyer can lead you step by step through the process and explain your options following a third offense.

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 Orange County attorney can help you address these possible penalties following a third drinking and driving offense.

Administrative Penalties

Like any DUI arrest, a third offense 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.

Defenses Against a Third Drinking and Driving Charge

If you’re facing a third offense DUI, you need to be realistic and be proactive in making a plan. Prosecutors and judges take tough stances on these cases involving repeat offenders. You’ll need help from a 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 in Orange County may be able to get your third offense DUI charges reduced or even dropped altogether. However, the sooner you contact a legal professional, 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 an Orange County Third Offense DUI Attorney

The Law Offices of Scott Henry is one of Southern California’s most respected 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 driving under the influence charges, contact our office today.

Our Orange County third offense DUI lawyers 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 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.

Our Locations
Attorney Scott Henry: Criminal & DUI Defense