California DUI statutes are continually changing. This, coupled with the unique circumstances of each drinking and driving case, can be challenging for you, an individual without legal education and knowledge, to analyze a 3rd offense DUI. A first DUI offense can be overwhelming, but a subsequent one can be embarrassing. The penalties for a subsequent offense are challenging to estimate because of mitigating and aggravating circumstances. Therefore, you should consider speaking to an experienced lawyer like the California Criminal Lawyer Group in Anaheim. Using our knowledge of DUI cases, we will educate you on events after a 3rd DUI arrest and be instrumental in your defense.

Third-time DUI at a Glance

According to California DUI statutes, you are guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) when you:

  • Operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of at least .08% or
  • Drive while intoxicated by substances, alcohol or both.

The prosecutor can convict you of having an illegal BAC or impairment, regardless of the BAC.

Your DUI will be deemed a third offense if you have had two convictions in the last ten years. DUI statutes permit progressive penalty increases for DUIs as they are priorable offenses. It means your penalties for a subsequent conviction will increase successively based on the number of prior convictions in the ten-year lookback period.

The DUI process starts with a traffic stop. A traffic officer will ask you to pull over if they notice signs of intoxication while operating the vehicle. These signs include overspeeding, lane weaving, and running a red light.

After the stop, the officer conducts further investigations to look for signs of intoxication like watery eyes, red-shot eyes, slurred speech, and alcohol odor. If these signs are present, the police officer will ask you to conduct a field sobriety or chemical blood test. Failing these tests shows that you were operating the car while intoxicated and will result in your arrest and subsequent booking in the nearest jail. However, before the arrest, the police officer will recite your Miranda rights. 

The consequences of the drinking and driving offense will be felt immediately. This is because the officer handling your case will confiscate your driver’s license if you are not an out-of-state motorist and issue you with a pink notification that you can utilize to drive around for thirty days. Meanwhile, you will have ten days after the apprehension to request an administrative proceeding from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to stop the suspension of your license. When you fail to request the hearing within the ten-day window, the DMV will automatically suspend your driving privileges after the lapse of the thirty-day duration provided for by the temporary license issued by the officer.

Ensure you have a lawyer representing you at the DMV proceeding because your driver’s license is on the line. Having a legal representative on your side elevates the chances of retaining the driving privilege, unlike when defending yourself. Additionally, the evidence the lawyer gathers for the administrative hearing can be used in criminal court.

On top of the administrative proceeding, you will face the criminal justice system for DUI apprehension. The criminal court process usually starts after the conclusion of the administrative proceeding.

The DMV Proceeding

After you request the administrative hearing in Anaheim, we encourage you to contact us at the California Criminal Lawyer Group immediately. Our lawyers understand the assertions to make for a favorable outcome in the proceeding.

Usually, the DMV will want you to answer the following questions:

  • Did the apprehending officer have probable cause for the traffic stop?
  • Did reasonable suspicion of DUI inform the DUI arrest?
  • Was your BAC beyond the designated limit of 0.08?
  • How many DUI convictions have you had in the last ten years?

When you answer these questions and make assertions against the suspension of the driving privilege, the DMV officer presiding over the case will give a ruling. The officer can opt to put the license withdrawal on hold until the verdict of the criminal proceeding is issued or begin the license suspension. Even if the DMV decides to retain your driving privilege but the court finds you guilty of DUI charges, the DMV will withdraw your driving privilege upon request by the court. Alternatively, even if the DMV suspends your license but the court finds you innocent of the drunk or drugged driving charges, you can challenge the DMV’s decision and reinstate your license.

The Criminal Proceeding for a 3rd DUI

Like in other criminal proceedings, the prosecutor bears the burden of showing that you engaged in a third drinking and driving offense within ten years. The prosecutor must meet the evidentiary standard of beyond moral certainty by proving the following aspects of the violation:

  1. You were Operating an Automobile

The physical control or driving element is met if the apprehending law enforcement officer sees you driving a car. Nevertheless, this is not always the case. What happens if you merely occupy a parked car’s driver’s seat? The prosecutor showing the court you were drunk or drugged is not enough. They must show you were operating an automobile while intoxicated. The prosecutor must rely on the following facts to show you were behind the wheel:

  • The automobile moved.
  • You were in the driver’s seat and awake when officers showed up.
  • The car's engine was running.
  • The car keys were in the ignition.
  • There was nobody else in the car.
  1. You were Under the Influence

The law prohibits you from operating a car under the influence of alcohol or other substances. This means that taking alcohol or controlled substances compromises your mental or motor capabilities to the extent that you cannot operate an automobile like a sober individual would under the same conditions.

Your driving style is not evidence of DUI but a factor the court considers when deciding whether you were impaired.

The prosecutor will rely on the arresting officer’s testimony to prove this aspect of the case to the court. The traffic officer will take the stand to testify about your conduct that seemed out of the ordinary during the arrest. They will cite your driving pattern, FST's performance, and physical appearance. The driving ways that show you were under the influence are:

  • Weaving.
  • Speeding.
  • Erratic driving.

Physical signs or appearances that can show impairment are:

  • Watery eyes.
  • Red eyes.
  • Alcohol odor in the breath.
  • Unsteady gait.
  • Slurred speech.

Consequently, the prosecutor can rely on the chemical test results to show you were intoxicated.

  1. Your BAC was at least 0.08%

The designated BAC is below 0.08%. Operating a car with anything 0.08% or higher is an offense. This element is easy to prove because the prosecutor relies on breathalyzer and chemical test results. However, just because your BAC results are above the designated limit does not make your case entirely hopeless. Your defense lawyer can poke holes in the credibility and accuracy of the results.

Penalties for a Third DUI

One of the questions you will be asking yourself after a conviction for a third drunk driving offense is how the penalties differ from those of previous convictions. The answer to the query hinges on the case’s facts and whether your legal representative can negotiate a favorable plea deal. A third DUI is a misdemeanor and can only be charged as a felony if it results in severe injuries. The misdemeanor penalties are:

  • 36 to sixty months of summary or informal probation.
  • 120 days to twelve months of jail incarceration.
  • $2,500 to $3,000 in financial court fines.
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for 24 months.
  • Mandatory completion of a 30-month DUI School.
  • 36 months of driving privilege suspension.

These penalties vary depending on the case’s conditions. You will face additional penalties if:

  • Your BAC was .15% or more.
  • You declined to submit to chemical testing.
  • Your DUI caused an accident.
  • You were arrested with a minor, 14 or younger, in the vehicle. This amounts to child endangerment and attracts additional thirty days of jail incarceration.
  • You were overspeeding, which earns you an extra 60 days of jail incarceration.

Each of these conditions attracts varying penalties based on their weight. Considering the seriousness of the additional punishments, it is vital to partner with a DUI defense lawyer. The Lawyers at the California Criminal Lawyer Group are experienced in defending against DUI charges in Anaheim. Therefore, contact us whenever you face a drinking and driving arrest or indictment. 

When the court imposes informal probation, you must abide by the following conditions:

  • Pay court-imposed fines.
  • Install an IID.
  • Find and retain meaningful employment.
  • Avoid operating an automobile under any amount of alcohol.
  • Agree to submit urine or blood samples for chemical testing for subsequent DUIs.
  • Refrain from committing additional offenses.

Plea Bargaining

Instead of going to trial and risking the harsh penalties of a conviction, your defense lawyer can negotiate a plea deal or bargain with the prosecutor for a sentence or charge reduction. Nevertheless, before committing to a plea deal, you should understand its pros and cons. A reputable lawyer will explain these and let you decide whether the agreement is reasonable.

Typically, a lawyer will go for a plea bargain depending on the likely verdict if the case goes to trial, the strength of the prosecutor’s case, and your criminal history. A prosecutor will grant a plea deal if it is your first offense or when they have a weak case against you that will likely not result in a conviction. Your DUI defense lawyer can request the deal if the evidence against you is strong and you do not want to risk going to trial.

When you accept a plea deal, you no longer have to worry about the case going to trial and an unfavorable verdict. Your lawyer negotiates a more favorable sentence.

Obtaining a penalty reduction in a plea deal means pleading guilty to the third DUI in exchange for lenient pre-determined penalties. With sentence reduction, you do not have to risk going to trial, where a conviction will result in harsh penalties like incarceration, hefty court fines, and summary probation.

When a plea deal involves charge reduction, your third DUI will be lowered to a lesser offense like wet reckless, speed exhibition, or dry reckless. Even if you plead guilty to the lesser offense, it will not count as a prior offense, meaning you will face lenient penalties. The merits of a charge reduction are:

  • You face less jail time.
  • Lower court fines and penalties.
  • Reduced social stigma.
  • Reduced adverse effects on your auto insurance premiums.

Sometimes, if the apprehending officer does not follow the procedures stipulated in the law and the evidence against you is weak, your offense can be lowered to a traffic infraction or drinking in a car or in public. These offenses do not attract a jail sentence. A conviction only results in a small court fine and does not appear on your criminal record.

How the California Criminal Lawyer Group in Anaheim Will Defend You

Although you risk an increase in penalties when your third DUI charge goes to trial, your criminal defense lawyer can contest the charges for a dismissal or acquittal. Your defense lawyer can use various defense strategies to fight the charges.

First, the lawyer can challenge the accuracy of FSTs in measuring impairment. If part of the prosecutor's discovery against you is the FST's results, your defense lawyer can contest them. Usually, the arresting police officer will bear witness in court that you performed poorly in the tests, leading them to conclude that you were operating the vehicle while drunk or drugged.

Luckily, your DUI lawyer can contest this assertion by claiming that your clothing, physical condition, or fatigue caused poor coordination and balance during the tests, leading to poor results. Additionally, the legal representative can contest the dependability of these results.

Another defense strategy your criminal defense lawyer can use is the failure of the arresting traffic officer to recite the Miranda rights. If an officer is to interrogate you after a DUI apprehension, they must read you your Miranda rights. If the officer did not do that, any statement you made to the officer during interrogation, even if self-incriminating, will not be admitted as evidence in the case, resulting in a charge reduction or dismissal.

Also, you can claim that the traffic officer lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause for the stop and subsequent arrest. An officer must reasonably believe you are drinking and driving to stop you and conduct chemical testing. Therefore, if the officer cannot identify driving patterns or physical appearances that pushed them to run the tests, the test results from the urine or blood sample will be suppressed. Without this evidence, the court will throw out the case for insufficient evidence.

The law requires police officers to observe you for fifteen minutes before running a breath test to ensure you do not put anything in your mouth. If the officer in your case did not make the observation, you can raise this defense. Many law enforcers do not do the observation as they focus more on the paperwork and conducting the chemical tests. You can challenge the officer’s investigation and test results by arguing that they did not observe you for 15 minutes, as the law provides.

A knowledgeable lawyer will even cite medical conditions like diabetes, Hypoglycemia, or a high-protein diet to explain the falsely high BAC. When you have any of these conditions, the body burns the stored fats into fuel, causing the liver to produce Ketones, whose chemical composition is like isopropyl alcohol. Sometimes the body excretes these toxins through the breath. If you take a breath test when this is happening, the breathalyzer will read a falsely high BAC. Your lawyer will evaluate your condition and the chemical test results to determine if this defense is viable.

Other defenses for a third DUI charge are:

  • You were not driving.
  • The chemical testing equipment was defective.
  • You had a rising blood alcohol level.
  • The blood sample you submitted for chemical testing was contaminated.
  • Your reckless driving does not amount to DUI.
  • You were apprehended in an unlawful DUI sobriety point.

Reinstating your Driving Privilege

A third drinking and driving offense conviction within ten years will result in the revocation of your license. The only way to prevent license cancellation is to win the administrative hearing with the DMV officer and the criminal charges against you in court.

Even as a third-time offender, you can still drive your car right after the suspension if you install an IID. With an IID, you can operate the vehicle with a revoked license for no more than 24 months.

Nevertheless, if you did not submit to chemical testing, you are ineligible for a restricted or limited license and cannot operate a car until thirty-six months have passed. This is among the most severe consequences of a DUI conviction. Losing your driving privileges for this long can tempt you to drive without a license, resulting in separate criminal charges.

Record Expunction

If you have been convicted as a third-time drinking and driving offender, you wonder if the conviction will result in a permanent record. Thankfully, a conviction will result in a criminal record, but one that is eligible for expunction. Even with a felony conviction, you can still file for expunction if you were sentenced to probation and completed the program.

After you complete probation for your repeat DUI, you can petition the court, with the help of your lawyer, for an expunction. The court then reviews your application and makes a decision. If they grant the application, you will withdraw the initial guilty or no contest plea and re-enter an innocence plea. Nevertheless, if the court sentences you for the offense after a trial, they will set aside the previous verdict if they grant your expunction request.

Even if you seal your DUI conviction records, the expungement will not reinstate your revoked driving privilege. However, it is rare for one to complete probation before the duration of the driver’s license suspension lapses. Typically, the suspension ends before probation, so there is no time to file for expunction and still have a suspended or revoked license. However, the expunction will not restore your privileges if you have expunged your record and your driving privilege is still suspended.

An expungement will not restore your driver’s license but will give you peace of mind. With a clean record, you will worry less about being discriminated against by employers, property owners or managers, schools, and licensing agencies because of your DUI record. Once your record is sealed, it will not be accessible in the public database, allowing you a fresh start.

The Role of a Lawyer in Your Case

When you face third drinking and driving charges, you should consider partnering with a defense lawyer. The offense attracts mandatory jail incarceration that sometimes lasts at most twelve months. With a reputable lawyer, you can avoid a jail sentence. Your defense lawyer can convince the court to convert the jail incarceration to house confinement or a work leave of absence.

Similarly, prosecutors offer plea bargains to defendants with private legal counsel because these professionals have the resources and time to build solid evidence to contest charges in court. As a result, having a personal attorney increases your chances of successfully negotiating a plea bargain over using a court-appointed attorney. Public defenders do not have the time and money to win a DUI charge, and the prosecutor is reluctant to offer them a deal.

Lastly, when you hire a lawyer for the case, you elevate the possibility of dismissal. Lawyers partner with private investigators to conduct independent investigations and gather new facts that the police could have missed in their reports. The lawyer then combs through the prosecutor’s evidence to find weaknesses they can exploit for a dismissal. Therefore, to elevate the chances of a favorable outcome in your third DUI, find an experienced private lawyer.

Find an Experienced Anaheim DUI Defense Lawyer Near Me

If you have an issue relating to a third DUI offense in Anaheim, California Criminal Lawyer Group is your go-to practice. We will guide you through arrest, DMV hearings, and criminal court proceedings for a favorable outcome. And even if you are convicted, we will work hard to reinstate your driving privileges and expunge your criminal record. Call us today at 714-766-0965 for a meeting.