A DUI is considered a third offense when the offender has had two previous convictions within the past ten years. In Orange County, a defendant accused of a third DUI offense faces more severe consequences than a defendant charged with a second or first DUI. With a 3rd DUI conviction, you risk jail term, loss of your job, and expensive fines and fees.

However, at Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we will help you understand your rights, misdemeanor penalties, administrative penalties, expungement, and alternative sentencing. We have a longstanding reputation in Orange county for ensuring effective and aggressive criminal defense. Our lawyers are committed to ensuring justice and providing the best legal representation for our clients.

Legal Definition of 3rd DUI Offense In California

In California, or operating a vehicle while intoxicated is an offense; the offense is considered a 3rd DUI when you commit the crime within ten years since the second DUI offense. However, you may reduce your charges to a minor offense with a DUI lawyer like wet reckless or dry reckless.

Driving under intoxication is considered a priorable offense in California. If the defendant is above 21 years and was arrested with a BAC level of 0.08% or above, for a 3rd consecutive time, they will face charges of DUI offense.

What The Prosecutor Must Prove

The prosecution must prove the DUI charge elements to prove the defendant was under intoxication while operating/driving a vehicle. The witnesses, including the arresting officers, are summoned in testifying why they believe you drove under intoxication. The prosecutor should prove the following:

You were Driving Under the Influence

Law enforcement officers usually request drivers to receive field sobriety tests to measure their levels of impairment. If the driver failed to obtain the test, the prosecutor might suggest you were driving while impaired. Additionally, symptoms like slurred speech, watery, red eyes, and alcohol odor may indicate impairment.

In Orange County, the prosecutors will rely on the tests carried on the drivers showing their blood alcohol levels and impairment in proving they drove under intoxication. If the prosecution discovers the driver had a 0.08% BAC and above, they will face a driving under the influence conviction. The legal BAC limit in Orange County is 0.08% and below for all adult drivers. When your BAC is above the limited level, the prosecutors may conclude you were driving under the influence.

Driving Elements of The DUI

You wouldn’t face DUI charges if you were not involved in the vehicle’s actual physical control. However, you don’t need to be driving for you to face the charges of DUI in California. Notably, the prosecutor may prove you were in physical control or operating the vehicle while impaired. The evidence will be enough to determine drunk driving. For instance, the defendant will be guilty when the prosecution shows he/she was in the driver’s seat, had the vehicle keys, was asleep or awake, the engine car was running, and the headlights were on.

Penalties For 3rd DUI Offense

The crime is punishable under the following categories:

Administrative Penalties

Suppose the driver faced two previous drunk convictions within the last ten years then pulled for a similar crime again; in this case, the driver's driving privileges may be suspended for a year.

Failing to adhere to the state implied law, such as refusing to obtain the chemical test, the DMV will suspend your license for 24 months. Moreover, if the officer with your case decides to file a DMV report, their driving license is automatically suspended after three days.

Misdemeanor Penalties

When drunk driving doesn't result in fatalities or injuries, the offense is considered a misdemeanor. Its penalties will include:

  • Mandatory alcohol/drug program for 18-24 months.
  • Imprisonment or up to one year
  • Penalties and fines are adding up to $2000, two thousand eight hundred dollars based on offenses severity, and the judge or jury’s decision.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device in your car.
  • Misdemeanor probation between 3-5 years once you have completed a jail term.

Mandatory Penalty Increment

The penalties may be under the following circumstances:

  • When the offender drives beyond the speed limit, they will serve two more months in custody.
  • If you refuse to receive a BAC test, you will obtain ten days in jail.
  • In fatalities or injuries, the offender will receive one more year of imprisonment for each victim's actions.
  • In the case of a child in the car, if you were carrying a child during the DUI arrest, you will face an addition of 30 days in jail time.

Additional Penalties

When arrested while driving under intoxication and the accident resulted in injuries or deaths, you will face a sentence under the California three-strike law. Notably, the law considers offenders with two previous felony DUI crimes convictions now facing a 3rd offense.

Once you are declared guilty according to the California three-strikes laws, you face severe penalties, including imprisonment for 25 years, which is automatic or mandatory. However, the defendant may obtain parole if they serve the 25-year sentence. California three-strikes law will apply under 3rd driving under influence crime under the following situations:

  • If the defendant has three or more prior convictions within the last ten years, or
  • If the defendant committed second-degree murder or vehicular manslaughter when driving under the intoxication of alcohol or drugs, they would face the California three-strikes law.

When the defendant is a persistent offender with previous felony DUI convictions in their criminal documentation, then the three-strike law will sentence the offender even if you didn't cause the injuries, fatalities, or accidents.

How an Attorney Can Help a Defendant Facing Third Offense Driving Under Influence Case

The outcome of a DUI case depends on the offender's willingness and cooperation with your DUI attorney. Additionally, the attorney will build a strong defense against the evidence at the court. The following are ways which your competent lawyer will use in approaching your case:

  1. Gathering Evidence

A competent attorney will depend on the evidence gathering when building a strong legal defense. The evidence-gathering exercise involves obtaining materials like audio or video recording of the Driving Under Influence investigation. For instance, if the arresting officers argue the defendant was drunk and talking on their phone as they were driving, the attorney may obtain the call recordings. The gathered evidence by the lawyers will help in weakening the prosecution’s allegations against the defendant.

  1. Obtaining a Fair Deal

Your DUI attorney may negotiate for a deal of your choice with the district attorney. The majority of driving under influence cases don't proceed to the trial stage. Therefore, your defense lawyer may negotiate with the prosecutor for a favorable deal. For instance, besides facing 3rd time DUI penalties, the defendant might be punished with a lesser crime like wet or dry reckless.

  1. Assisting with Legal Analysis

The defendant requires an attorney to collect and interpret their case since the process requires legal skills. Your lawyer may rely on motions filed to support the case evidence. For instance, motions that may be filed in favor of your case include the motion of suppressing the evidence or a pitchess motion.

Driving Privileges to The Offender After a 3rd DUI Crime Conviction

Suspension or license repeal will occur if you face a conviction for drunk driving or lose your DMV hearing. The court holds the offenders driving license until they complete the school program for DUI. Additionally, suspension involves losing your driving license until the offender completes their designated period.

If the defendant is proven guilty of the offense, the driving license will be suspended for up to 3 years. However, not everyone facing a DUI charge will lose his/her driving privileges. Notably, the offenders installing ignition interlock devices in their cars or submitting a chemical test will retain their privileges for at least two years.

The offenders defying the state’s implied consent would face a suspension for three years. The persons aren’t allowed to drive until the duration is over since they can't be supplied with the restricted license to maintain their licenses even with an IID installation.

What Should You Do After a Third DUI Arrest?

Most people pulled over for being behind the wheel while drunk for a 3rd time don't understand their freedom, and future criminal records are on the line. In California, the district attorney’s office starts to develop a case soon after they arrest you. What the defendant does during this period is paramount to the kind of charges they will face and if they will face convictions or not.

Immediately after the arrest, you should not speak to the arresting officers. By speaking with the police, you might understand your situation and give them more evidence. However, the arresting officers are supposed to recite the Miranda rights to you. The rights include remaining silent until the time your attorney is present.

Probation Violation

When arrested for a 3rd DUI within ten years while serving your 2nd driving under the influence conviction, your probation is revoked. Additionally, the penalties may be severe. Probation violation will occur when the defendant fails to obey the conditions provided by the law. Punishment for the violation includes:

  • Extra fines
  • Disqualification from expungement
  • Probation and new jail term

Expunging 3rd DUI Crime

In Orange County, the law authorizes expungement for your criminal record. Notably, when an offender faces a 3rd Driving Under Influence conviction, they will permanently stain their criminal record and deny them college and job opportunities. However, having your records cleared when you have faced conviction is helpful. Not everyone could receive an expungement for an intoxicated driving conviction. To receive the expungement:

  • You should have completed your sentence in California prison and not jail.
  • You should have completed the probation ordered by the court during conviction.

Can Expungement Help Clearing Your Criminal Record?

When you complete your probation, you may appeal for criminal record expungement. However, to be granted the appeal, the defendant must reverse the guilty plea to not guilty plea. Additionally, the offender may have their ruling set aside by the judge, made by the jury if the defendant attends a trial within their conviction period.

Advantages of Expungement

If the offense has a criminal record, then they may not obtain employment. However, upon the clearance of criminal history, you will not see the record anywhere, thus receiving a job again.

Will it be Possible To Obtain Expungement After the Court Orders for the Termination of The Offenders Probation?

An expungement is given to persons only when they complete their probation. Therefore, if the probation is terminated due to a premature court order, the offender still qualifies for expungement. For example, when the court orders formal probation to the defendant for five years, the probation is terminated after three years. The defendant will be eligible to delete their criminal records.

Notably, not everyone obtains an early probation termination by the law court. For you to guarantee an appeal, you should have gone through the conditions and terms of the probation, like paying restitution fees and fines.

Restricted Drivers License In 3rd DUI Offense.

In Orange County, convictions for a 3rd DUI will lead to license revocation or suspension for a period not exceeding three years. The suspension of the license will be a blow to most offenders with sick relatives or family members. The circumstance forces the offender to rely on other persons during the revocation period. However, within the year or six months of the offenders driving privileges reversal, the defendant may apply for the restricted license. For the defendant to access the restricted license, they must meet the following:

  • Provide proof of financial responsibility from their vehicle insurance company.
  • Engage in an agreement that will promise for the completion of their multiple programs.
  • Proof of enrolment in a thirty or eighteen-month multi offender program.
  • To provide proof of evidence for the installation of the ignition interlock tool.

The legal defenses for fighting a third DUI offense

In California, any driver arrested with a 3rd DUI offense has a right to defend against their crimes. With an aggressive lawyer, the defendant will challenge the evidence provided against them in court. The lawyer will develop the best legal defense strategies to have your charges dismissed or reduced. The common legal defenses against a 3rd DUI offense include:

  • The Police Officer’s Failure in Complying With The Driving Under Influence Arrest Procedures

When arrested, the police must immediately read your Miranda rights, including the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent since anything said could be used against you in court, etc. If the police officers do not issue Miranda warnings, the evidence obtained will be excluded before you are interrogated, and your defense attorney could order a suppression hearing.

  • The Officer Failure in Observing Title 17 Rules On Administering Breath and Blood Tests

The police should arrange proper blood and alcohol analysis by licensed phlebotomists after the arrest. Additionally, the personnel to handle the tests are required to have adequate training and regularly maintained instruments. The defendant’s blood urine requires adequate handling, identification, and storage to avoid contamination, fermentation, and mislabeling.

In case the officers fail to ensure the measures, your defense attorney could challenge the reliability and tests of all altogether, leading to a drop or reduction of your charges. Moreover, if the testing gadgets we're not adequately maintained, then the results came out positively; the obtained evidence won't be accepted in the court. Your defense attorney will point out errors in gathering the results leading to case dismissal.

  • When Your BAC Level Was Beyond Normal Due to Various Psychological and Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions create the appearance of drunkenness and skew the results of roadside breathalyzer tests. Neurological problems cause slurred speech, allergens, crying, and watery eyes. Additionally, medical conditions, including hypoglycemia and diabetes, can falsely inflate your BAC.

When your BAC is inflated, you have an alcohol order, confusion, and lack of coordination. Alternatively, consuming high protein quantities makes the liver produce chemicals resembling alcohol when burning the stored fat, resulting in the inflation of your BAC. Our lawyers may ask the judge to ignore your BAC level results because your blood alcohol inflated falsely due to the medical and physiological conditions.

  • The Vehicle was Stationary

For the offender to face a conviction for driving under the influence, the car should have been in motion. For instance, when the offender sleeps in the driver's seat, they may not face a DUI conviction. Additionally, when the engine is not warm or gear in drive, You should not face a conviction for impairment at the time. With the assistance of our experienced Orange County, Criminal Lawyer may argue you received Intoxication after the scene.

  • Lack Of Reasonable Suspicion For a Traffic Stop

You should be stopped in a DUI checkpoint adhering to California law for the relevance of gathered evidence. If you were obeying the speed limit, not swerving, did not have mechanical problems with your vehicle, and you observed all the traffic lights, the police do not have a reason to stop you. If randomly stopped by police officers so they could investigate whether you are drunk or not, then you could claim the officer lacked probable cause to make the initial traffic stops.

The police should give a definite fact giving suspense that you were driving under drug influence. Stopping you without a valid reason would be a violation, according to California law. You may assert the police lacked a suspicion to pull you over and any gained evidence after that is inadmissible.

Other Related Offenses To A 3rd DUI Crime

Alongside the 3rd DUI offense, we have other related crimes with severe penalties and punishments under California law to drivers involved in the crime. The circumstances surrounding the crime determines the charge brought against you. Related offenses filed along 3rd DUI crime include:

  • First Offense Driving Under Influence

The first driving under the influence charge is based on a California driving under influence laws. In California, the offense is a misdemeanor typically punished between 3 to 5 years of probation, fine not exceeding $1000, suspension of driver license for six months, DUI school program, and installing an ignition interlock device. The offender may have the charges reduced to another lesser or reckless driving offense.

For the first time drunk conviction, the court may order probation for the offender. However, the court must order certain conditions for DUI probation. For example, in installing an IID in the defendant's vehicle for six months, the offender should not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood. The defendants should not refuse to submit a DUI test when arrested for subsequent drunk offenses.

  • Second Offense Driving Under Influence

Under California law, the offender will face charges of a second DUI offense when he/she commits a DUI crime within ten years from the prior arrest. The crime attracts penalties and punishments, including fines ranging from three hundred and ninety dollars to one thousand dollars, 3-5 years of summary probation, and a compulsory IID installation.

  • Driving Under Influence Causing Injury

The defendant may face DUI resulting in injury charges under vehicle code 23153, which states the crime a DUI leading to bodily injury. Additionally, the prosecution will treat the charge as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the case’s facts and the accident outcomes. However, potential penalties will include summary probation and jail time for the misdemeanor.

Contact A Criminal Lawyer Near Me

Although a 3rd DUI conviction may attract severe consequences, you shouldn't worry when facing charges. At Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we have many years of experience in dealing with DUI cases. Additionally, we have the capability of winning regardless of how hopeless your case appears initially. If you are in or around Orange County, call us at 714-262-4833 for a case review and a free consultation.