It has happened again, you have been arrested for a third time on suspicion of driving under the influence. If you are reading this you or someone you know has been arrested for a third offense DUI. Naturally, you have already been convicted of two DUIs, you are familiar with the process, but you want to know what happens next, what penalties you could be faced with. This article will briefly address the following: (1) the basic process including the DMV hearing, (2) the period of time your license may be suspended, (3) the criminal penalties against you if you are convicted; and (4) the benefit of having competent legal representation.

At the outset, it should be noted; you are not alone, many people are faced with a third DUI. Much like everyone else, you probably didn’t want to put your entire life on hold out of fear of getting another DUI conviction; you didn’t want to stop drinking completely. It is entirely possible that you didn’t know your limits, or there was something unique about the day you were arrested. It should be stressed however,now is the time to quit drinking; a fourth conviction for driving under the influence will automatically be brought as a felony, and the consequences will be severe.

It is impossible to inform the reader of exactly what the consequences of a third DUI will be. This is because the penalties are based on the specific facts of the specific case; this is further complicated by the personal opinions of the specific judge hearing your case. This article will inform you of what generally occurs. If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence for a third time in a span of ten (10) years, contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm immediately for a FREE consultation. While you are likely familiar with the process that someone who is accused of a DUI goes through, it is important to briefly cover the process.


As you are likely aware, if the arresting officer conducts a test to determine your blood alcohol content, and the result of that test is a BAC of 0.08%, the officer will take your license away from you, issue a 30 day temporary license, and report the arrest and the BAC to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Once the DMV receives this, they will suspend your license. At this point you have two options: (1) contact the DMV and request a hearing on the suspension of your license, or (2) wait for the criminal proceedings to begin against you. As you know, having an experienced attorney advocating for your rights can have tangible benefits on the outcome of both the DMV hearing, as well as the ultimate outcome of your case. After your DMV hearing, regardless of the outcome, the criminal proceedings will begin against you, and the license suspension period will begin. At trial, the Prosecutor will be required to prove their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. If the Prosecutor succeeds in this obligation, the jury will render a verdict of guilty against you, and the case will move to the sentencing phase. In the sentencing phase, the judge has substantial freedom in determining what penalty to impose against you, but will frequently entertain the arguments of both your attorney, as well as the Prosecutor, regarding the proper penalty to impose against you. Ultimately, a sentence is ordered and the case against you is complete.


If you choose to request a DMV hearing, it would behoove you to contact an attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm as soon as possible. Having counsel represent you at the DMV hearing can have a profound impact on the ultimate decision the administrative judge will make. It is especially important to have someone fighting for you at this point because the DMV is not bound by the same rules as criminal court, and they tend to come down hard on repeat DUI offenders. Your attorney will need to present an air-tight defense to succeed in convincing the DMV to set aside the suspension of you license. The administrative judge at the DMV hearing will be focused on a handful of questions:

  1. Did the arresting officer have reasonable suspicion that crime was afoot? That is, did the officer violate your Constitutional rights when they initiated the traffic stop that resulted in your arrest?
  2. Did the arresting officer have probable cause when he effectuated your arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence? In other words, were your Constitutional rights violated when you were arrested?
  3. Was your blood alcohol content above 0.08%? If it was not, then the license suspension will likely fail.
  4. How many times have you been convicted of driving under the influence pursuant to California Vehicle Code §23152, driving under the influence with bodily injury in violation of California Vehicle Code §23153, or a “wet reckless” within the past ten (10) years.

Once all of these questions have been addressed, the administrative judge will render their decision as it relates to the suspension of your license; either the suspension is set aside until the resolution of the criminal charges against you, or the automatic suspension of you license for a period of three (3) years remains in effecti. After the DMV Hearing is resolved, the criminal proceedings against you will commence.


Like every other criminal case against you, the Prosecutor must prove each and every element of their case against you in order to obtain a conviction on the charges you are facing. For a third DUI, the Prosecutor must prove the following:

  1. You were driving a car;
  2. While driving the car, one of the following four (4) facts were present:
  1. You were under the influence of a narcotic; or
  2. You were addicted to a narcotic (unless you were also currently enrolled it an approved treatment program);
  3. Your BAC was 0.08% or above; or
  4. You were under the influence of alcohol, but your BAC was below 0.08%; and
  5. In the past ten (10) years you were convicted twice of any of the following offenses:
  6. Driving under the influence in violation of Vehicle Code §23152;
  7. Driving under the influence and causing bodily injury; or
  8. You were convicted of a “wet reckless” which is not a charge per se, but is a common plea bargain offer when an individual has been charged with driving under the influence

If the Prosecution meets their burden of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury will find you guilty of the crime of a third offense driving under the influence. At this point, the case against you will proceed to the sentencing phase. If your attorney has not been able to defeat the Prosecutor’s case against you, this is your attorney’s opportunity to advocate for lenient punishment.


There are a number of potential consequences you may face if you are convicted of a third offense DUI. While this is not a complete list of the possible consequences, some penalties include:

  1. You will face a minimum of one hundred twenty (120) days of incarceration, and a maximum period of incarceration of one (1) year.
  2. A minimum fine of $2,500, and a maximum fine of $3,000
  3. A requirement that you complete a Court Approved DUI education program
  4. Three (3) to five (5) years of informal probation; it should be noted that if you are put on informal probation, he following terms are always attached to that probation:
  1. A prohibition against commenting any crimes for the duration of your probationary period;
  2. A prohibition against operating a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.
  1. During the three (3) to five (5) years of informal probation, additional terms of probation may include:
  1. Installation of a device known as an Ignition Interlock Device (“IID”)
  2. Something known as “restitution”, this is essentially payment into a state fund relating to victims of DUIs; this will only occur if your DUI involved some kind of accident.
  3. It is generally a term of probation that you attend a Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”) program designed to educate the individual about the impact driving under the influence can have on the victims of accidents
  4. Participation in a group for the treatment of addiction such as alcoholics anonymous, or narcotics anonymous

In addition to the standard penalties for what is known as a “simple” DUI, there are certain factors which, if present, can result in even more enhanced penalties, the enhancing factors include:

  • Driving thirty miles per hour over the allowable speed limit on a highway, or twenty-five miles per hour on a residential road;
  • Causing injury, or death to another person while driving under the influence;
  • Causing damage to property while driving under the influence;
  • Driving under the influence with a passenger who is under the age of 14 at the time of the DUI; this will also be charged as Child Endangerment pursuant to California Penal Code §273(a);
  • Refusing to submit to a blood, or breath test, after being informed by the officer of the consequences associated with your refusal; and
  • Having a blood alcohol content of over 0.15% at the time of your arrest

The extent of the impact these aggravating factors depends on which factor is present, and the extent of the damage caused by the presence of that aggravating factor. For more information regarding the sentence enhancements associated with a DUI where aggravating factors are present please review our article titled “Aggravated DUI.”

There are many more possible penalties associated with a third offense DUI, but whatever the potential penalties, it is important to have an attorney representing you at this phase of your case. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm have extensive experience defending cases in Los Angeles County, and are aware of a judge’s “baseline” sentence for various criminal charges. Armed with this information, your attorney can advocate for a lesser sentence, which I below the judge’s “baseline.”



As you may be aware, DUI charges are known as “wobbler” offenses, and can be brought as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of your case. It is critical to avoid a felony DUI chargev. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm have experience dealing with the District Attorneys in Los Angeles County, and can successfully advocate for the charge to be brought against you as a misdemeanor. You attorney will begin building a defense for your case based on the facts they obtain during your FREE initial consultation, as well as facts they obtain as the process continues. Promises cannot be made about the outcome of your case, but the attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm do not shy away from a fight, and advocate on your behalf ferociously.

After reading the penalties you could face if you are convicted of a third DUI in the span of ten (10) years, it is understandable that you may be apprehensive about your case. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm will present the very best case they can to avoid you case ever making it to the sentencing phase. There are many defenses a skilled attorney can present, and rigorous cross-examination of the Prosecution’s witnesses against you will help weaken the Prosecution’s case against you. Some of the defenses your attorney can raise on your behalf include, but are not limited to:

  • Your Constitutional rights were violated because the arresting officer did not have probable cause to arrest you, thus certain evidence must be excluded as a matter of law;
  • Your Constitutional rights were violated because the arresting officer never read you your Miranda rights before beginning questioning, thus any statements obtained from you must be exclude as a matter of law;
  • California law was not followed as it relates to the maintenance of the equipment utilized to obtain your BAC, and thus must be excluded as a matter of law.

If you have been accused of a third DUI offense in the span of 10 years, contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm now. You can contact us at 424-285-54000