If you are charged with your third DUI in California (and you first one was less than 10 years earlier), the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will impose administrative sanctions independent of criminal penalties described below.
Upon your third DUI conviction, the DMV will suspend your driver's license for up to three years. However, you may be eligible for a restricted license after one year that will allow you to drive to and from work and school.
Criminal penalties for a third DUI in California include a fine ranging from $1,800 to $3,000. Most counties will require that you serve at least 120 days of jail time. Your attorney may be able to work out an alternative sentence, such having the time converted to community service or house arrest. Penalties for a third DUI in California also include three to five years of probation. You must also attend DUI School for 18 months.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor in California
All DUIs in California are misdemeanors unless they fall within one of three categories.
- If a person other than the defendant suffers bodily injury because of the DUI. For this situation to escalate a misdemeanor to a felony, the prosecutor must believe that the person arrested for the DUI caused the accident.
- If there is a fourth DUI within the lookback period (10 years) or
- If the defendant has at least one prior felony DUI charge on their record, the subsequent DUI will automatically be a felony.
If you have been charged with a third DUI in California, you have the option to plead guilty, not guilty or try to negotiate a plea bargain. If you have a viable defense, your attorney may recommend a plea of not guilty. In addition, a plea bargain may also be possible. For example, if you agree to attend rehab, the prosecutor may be willing to reduce your sentence.