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What Happens if You Get a Third DUI in California?

Car keys and fallen empty glass on the tableIt’s never advisable to get behind the wheel when you’ve been drinking, but the penalties can be particularly harsher if you’ve already been convicted of DUIs in the past. First-time offenders typically receive less intense penalties than multiple offenders, and the costs and punishments increase with each arrest. If you’ve been charged with your third DUI in California, here are some things you should know:

Administrative Penalties

DUIs, unlike many other offenses, come with certain administrative penalties, meaning you’re subject to punishment beyond monetary fines. In terms of a DUI, the administrative penalty would be a suspended license. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI twice in the past ten years and are pulled over again for the same offense, your license will likely be administratively suspended for at least one year, depending on the severity of your case; the term of suspension is usually longer for multiple-time DUI offenders. If you refuse chemical testing, you could face a suspension of up to three years as a violation of California’s implied consent laws.

Misdemeanor Penalties

Assuming your DUI didn’t result in death or injury, your third DUI would likely be considered a misdemeanor. In this case, you could face up to one year in jail, but you should expect to serve a minimum of 120 days. Once you complete your jail time, the court will order probation. For a third offense, probation will be five years. You’ll also be required to pay court fines, which typically range from $2,000 – $3,000, but this amount can vary significantly, depending on the decisions of the court, the severity of your case, and many factors unique to your own situation.

Other Penalties

In California, a third DUI often includes penalties beyond initial jail time, fines, and probation. You may be required to attend an 18-month alcohol education program. Additionally, as mentioned before, your license will likely be suspended. For a third-time DUI offense, you may be facing a three-year suspension. As a note, your administrative and misdemeanor penalties can overlap, which means the total suspension time should not exceed three years.

Alternative Sentencing

A DUI attorney may be able to negotiate your sentence with the D.A.  If you have a great attorney, he or she can reduce the charges. He or she may propose community service or house arrest in lieu of additional jail time or extra fines, for example. If you’re worried about losing your job, caring for your family, or other factors attributable to your day-to-day life, it’s best to contact an attorney as soon as possible so he or she can evaluate your specific case and work on proposals for alternative sentencing.

You may also find yourself eligible for good-behavior credits while you’re in custody, which can reduce your total time served. Jail-alternative work programs are another option that can help you fulfill your court-ordered requirements.

If you’re facing your third DUI charge, it is imperative to seek the assistance of an experienced California DUI attorney. You could be facing a lengthy jail sentence, stiff fines, or other penalties that will otherwise be unavoidable if you don’t have a lawyer fighting on your behalf. Reach out to a DUI attorney as soon as possible so he or she can begin to build your case.

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