A DUI charge in California carries grave consequences, more so after conviction. A 3rd DUI, though a misdemeanor, will result in more severe consequences, including time in jail, payment of a hefty fine, and a possible license suspension. It will also affect any other DUI charge you receive within ten years, resulting in felony charges. Thus, you could be highly anxious and confused if you face a 3rd offense DUI in Los Angeles today. It helps to work alongside a competent criminal attorney for a smoother process and a more favorable outcome. Our team of skilled criminal defense lawyers at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney will be willing to help you through all legal procedures. We will also fight with you for the court to dismiss or reduce your charges.
The DUI Process in California
DUI is a common problem in the United States. So many people are arrested and convicted of DUI in California, regardless of the many online and offline campaigns against drunk driving. When a driver operates a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, many people face a risk of harm, including fellow motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and property owners. This explains why California laws against DUI are pretty stringent. A sentence for DUI carries severe consequences, including jail or prison time, payment of a hefty fine, and loss of driving privileges.
But the court must find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for the judge to give the sentence. In that case, you will undergo trial, in which you are allowed to defend yourself against the charges. You could change the case’s outcome with a proper defense. But you need the help of an experienced criminal attorney to do that.
An arrest for DUI in California can occur anywhere and anytime. The police are always on the lookout for anyone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They also set up DUI checkpoints, stopping and investigating motorists for drunk driving. The police will conduct a preliminary investigation for DUI if they suspect you are operating a vehicle under the effects of alcohol or drugs. If you fail, they will arrest you and bring you to a police station, where they will conduct a BAC test to determine your blood-alcohol content. If your DUI exceeds the allowed legal limit of 0.08%, you will be arrested and charged for DUI.
When you face DUI charges, the arresting officer will seize your license and give you a provisional license that you can only use for thirty days. You must have undergone an administrative hearing to protect your license within those days. Otherwise, you could lose your license temporarily or permanently, depending on the details of the matter. The police will also forward the case details to the prosecutor and DMV. The prosecutor will open criminal charges against you. DMV will expect you to initiate an administrative hearing to defend your license within ten days of arrest.
If you do not request an administrative hearing within ten days of your DUI arrest, you lose your license for the period required by law for your particular offense. Thus, you can not drive anywhere after the temporary permit issued by the arresting officer expires. In the DMV hearing, your attorney can help defend your license against suspension or revocation. It will also delay DMV's action against your license, and you could continue driving after the expiration of the temporary license.
The DUI process in California can be very complicated. You must undergo several legal strategies to defend your license and yourself against the charges. That is why you must seek legal representation from the beginning. It will reduce your stress and smoothen the process for you. Your attorney will also handle all legal matters on your behalf. You stand a chance to win a DMV hearing and criminal case if you have legal representation.
California DMV Hearings
The Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, is the body that administers vehicle registrations and issuance of driving licenses. It is the body that decides who receives driving privileges. DMV can grant or deny you a driver's license. It can also cancel, revoke, suspend or restrict your license. If you face DUI charges in California, DMV will act according to the case’s details. Some DUI cases call for a total suspension of a driver's license, while others only deserve a temporary suspension or restriction of your license.
That is why it is necessary to undergo a DMV hearing after a DUI arrest in Los Angeles. The outcome of this hearing can determine the status of your driving privilege.
Remember that you must request the hearing within ten days of the arrest. After ten days, you will be ineligible for the hearing and have to accept the DMV's decision regarding your license. If you request the hearing, ensure that you have legal representation. Legal defense is not mandatory in DMV hearings. But an attorney's presence could positively impact your case's outcome.
Experienced criminal attorneys know best how to respond to the questions the DMV official presiding over the case will ask. They will carefully react in a manner that will favor your situation. Some issues the DMV official will discuss in the hearing are:
If the police had probable cause to stop you
If the police had probable cause to arrest you for DUI
Your BAC results
How man The number of prior convictions for DUI do you have in your criminal record within ten years
Once your attorney answers these questions and presents your arguments before the officer, the administrative officer will deliver their decision. The officer can set aside your driver's license revocation until a criminal court delivers its verdict on your case. The officer could also order the beginning of your automatic license suspension for three years.
But the DMV's decision regarding your license is not always final. If a criminal court does not find you guilty of DUI, and the judge does not order the suspension of your driving permit, you can challenge DMV's decision to suspend your license.
The DUI Criminal Process
The DUI criminal process in California is long and tedious. You could use the help of an experienced criminal lawyer to navigate the process and obtain a favorable outcome.
Once you are charged with DUI in a California criminal court, the prosecutor has the burden of proof. In that case, they will have to demonstrate all the facts of DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the only way a judge will deliver a guilty verdict. These elements are:
You were operating a vehicle when an officer arrested you
You were doing so while under the effects of alcohol or drugs, contrary to California VC 23152(a)
Your BAC was at 0.08% or higher, contrary to VC 23152(b)
If the district attorney can demonstrate these elements, you will be sentenced to DUI and receive the penalties allowed under the law for your specific DUI offense. Your attorney will be allowed to defend your charges in court to counter the prosecutor's evidence. That could cause the court to reduce or drop your charges.
Third Offense DUI
DUI is a priorable offense in California. It means that the gravity of a DUI charge is mainly determined by the number of previous DUI convictions in your criminal record within ten years. A first-offense DUI means that you have never been arrested or charged with DUI in the past, or your previous DUI arrest or conviction happened more than ten years ago. A second offense DUI means you have at least one DUI conviction within ten years. A 3rd- offense DUI means you have two previous DUIs in ten years.
The first, second, and third offense DUIs in California are misdemeanors, except in the presence of aggravating factors like an injury or death. However, the third conviction would attract more severe punishments than the first and the second. Here are the likely penalties for a third offense DUI. Remember that the judge has absolute discretion to determine the sentence that best suits the circumstances of the case.
DUIs attract a hefty court fine, which you must pay within the period stipulated by the judge. The amount you will likely pay for a 3rd-offense DUI conviction within ten years is $2,000 to $3,000
Since a third offense DUI is a misdemeanor, you will likely be sentenced to jail and not prison. The period of incarceration could range between 120 days to 1 year.
A 3rd-DUI within ten years could indicate that you have an alcohol or drug problem. Thus, the court could order you to attend a DUI treatment program for 30 months to ensure that the problem does not recur in the future. You must complete the program as requested by the judge.
The judge could send you on probation instead of jail after a 3rd-DUI conviction. In that case, you will serve your entire time out of incarceration but under the direct supervision of the court. Your probation could last from three-five years. Within that period, you must abide by strict probation conditions that could include the following:
Attending and completing a DUI treatment program
Submitting periodic progress reports to the court
Remaining within the court's jurisdiction
You must also not commit any crime while on probation
No attempt to drive a vehicle with even the slightest level of alcohol or drugs in your blood
You must agree to random BAC tests
The judge could order you to attend AA or NA meetings
Paying restitution to victims of the crime
A third offense DUI conviction calls for a driver's license suspension of three years. You cannot drive anywhere in California within that period. But you can apply for a limited license after eighteen months. A limited license only permits you to go to particular places, like school work and DUI school.
Installation of IID
You could be required to install an IID device in your car and all other vehicles you drive until DMV reinstates your driver's license. An IID device ensures you do not go anywhere with even the slightest alcohol in your system. It takes random breath tests as you drive. If you have consumed alcohol, your vehicle will stop. The test results will also be registered. That could affect your sentence and probation.
These are typical penalties for a 3rd-offense DUI. You could receive more or less, depending on the facts of the case. You could also be subject to heftier penalties if your case has aggravating factors. Here are some aggravating factors that could elevate your third DUI sentence:
Causing an injury or death while drunk or drugged driving
Speeding or reckless driving
Refusing to undergo BAC testing
Having a BAC of .15% or higher
Having a passenger aged below 14 while driving under the effects of drugs or alcohol
Being 21 years old or below at the time of the offense
Each aggravating factor will influence your sentence differently. For example, driving with a passenger below 14 could result in additional criminal charges for endangering a minor.
How To Defend Yourself Against 3rd -Offense DUI Charges
The penalties for a 3rd-offense DUI conviction are grave. Other than losing your driving privileges, spending time in jail, and paying a hefty fine, you will have a criminal record that could impact several areas of your life. For example, finding a suitable job after a criminal conviction could be challenging. The best way to escape a sentence and these grave consequences is to fight your charges with the help of a skilled criminal attorney. Your attorney could aim at having the court dismiss or reduce your charges. Here are the best defense strategies your attorney can apply to achieve that:
The Police Lacked a Probable Cause to Stop You
The law mandates law enforcement to have a valid reason for stopping motorists suspected of DUI. You could have been speeding or driving recklessly or had committed a traffic infraction. Or, you could have been stopped randomly at a checkpoint following the officer's presence laid down criteria. If the officer only made a random stop and started a DUI investigation, any evidence they gathered would not be admissible in court.
The Officer Lacked a Probable Cause for Making a DUI Arrest
Also, police officers must have probable cause before arresting and charging a suspect for DUI. If the officer's suspicions were not correct after stopping you, they should have let you go. But since you were arrested, the officer must explain why they felt the need to arrest you. You could have failed the preliminary test for DUI, or you refused to perform the field sobriety tests, and the officer had to arrest you since you were behaving as if you were drunk or drugged. But without probable cause, any evidence the officer gathered against you would not be admissible in court.
The Officer Did Not Read Your Rights
Everyone's rights must be respected, even people suspected of a criminal offense. After making an arrest, the law mandates law enforcement officers to read and inform you of your Miranda rights. For example, they must tell you of your right to stay silent to avoid incriminating yourself or the right to an attorney. Sadly, some officers proceed to question and gather evidence against DUI suspects before reading their Miranda rights. If that happened to you, you could compel the judge to dismiss evidence gathered against you by the officer.
If you feel your BAC was probably higher when you took the DUI tests than when driving, you could use this as a defense to compel the judge to reduce or drop your charges. It is believed that after a person consumes alcohol, their BAC does not automatically rise and remains the same for a while before all alcohol clears out of their bloodstream. It rises steadily and could take time before it is at its peak. People who consume alcohol and drive right away could drive safely before their BAC increases to a point where it impairs their driving ability.
If an officer took time before administering a breath or blood test, and you were found with a slightly higher BAc than it is legally allowed, you could use this defense to have the court dismiss your charges. Your attorney could argue that your BAC rose as you were waiting to take the tests, meaning that you had a standard or lower BAC when driving.
Inaccurate BAC Results
It is not unusual to have an inaccurate BAC reading, especially if you took a breath test. Breathalyzers have been faulted for giving false results in various circumstances. Thus, your positive reading could have been a false positive.
BAC readings could be affected by several factors. For example, if an unskilled or inexperienced technician administers the test, there is no guarantee that they will do it correctly to give an accurate reading. Also, these gadgets require regular maintenance and precise calibration to work accurately. A false positive result will be inevitable if they are not well maintained.
Illegal DUI Checkpoint
If your arrest occurred at a DUI checkpoint, your attorney could find out whether the checkpoint was legal. A legal DUI checkpoint must follow legal requirements. It should be advertised in advance, well-lit, stationed in a safe and convenient location, and manned by at least four police officers. Officers must have predetermined criteria for stopping and investigating motorists for DUI. If these or other requirements were ignored, you could have been arrested at an illegal DUI checkpoint. That will lead to the automatic dismissal of any proof gathered by officers at that checkpoint.
Recovering Your Driving privileges After Three DUIs in California
Losing your driving privilege is among the harshest penalties you will likely receive after a third conviction for DUI within ten years. DMV revokes your license for three years and can only restrict it after 18 months of no driving. Even a restricted license will not allow you to move freely.
If these are some of your worries, you could first try fighting the revocation. To do that, you must request an administrative hearing and win. When you win a DMV hearing, you will be given your license back after 30 days of using a temporary driver's license. The other way to avoid a license revocation is by winning a criminal case. Remember that a criminal conviction for DUI also carries a license revocation penalty. You do not lose your driving privileges if you succeed in both cases.
If not, you can request the judge to allow you to install an IID in your cars. An IID automatically locks your car if it detects the slightest alcohol in your breath. In most cases, judges allow DUI convicts to continue driving if they agree to install IID devices in all their vehicles. You must keep the IID for at least 24 months. But if you refuse to undergo BAc testing after the arrest, you cannot drive for the three-year revocation period. You also do not qualify for a limited license after eighteen months.
If you drive your vehicle with a suspended or revoked driver's license, you will face criminal charges and be registered as a habitual traffic offender. This registration comes with additional penalties, including the possibility of losing your driving privileges for good.
Find a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you face a 3rd-DUI charge within ten years, you must worry about the hefty penalties you could receive if you are convicted. Even if it is a misdemeanor, a 3rd-offense DUI carries severe and life-changing penalties, like jail time, payment of a hefty fine, and revocation of your driver's license. But you can change the case's outcome if you partner with the best criminal defense team in Los Angeles. Our Los Angeles Criminal Attorney team is ready and willing to support you through this challenging journey. We will use the best defense strategies to obtain a fair outcome. Call us at 424-333-0943, and allow us to review your case.