What Should I Expect If I Get a Third DUI?

When does a DUI count as a third offense? And what are the penalties if I’m convicted?

By , Attorney · University of San Francisco School of Law

Drunk driving is illegal in all 50 states. You can get a DUI based on "impairment" or having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, a "per se" DUI.

Typical Penalties for a Third DUI Conviction

The consequences of being caught driving under the influence are always severe. For a third DUI, however, the penalties are typically even more serious than those for a first or second offense. In many states, you can avoid doing a substantial amount of jail time on a first or second offense. But your chances of dodging jail on a third DUI are slim. And the fines for a third DUI are likely to be well into the thousands. Many states also require drivers with third-offense DUIs to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) in their vehicles.

Another thing to think about is the criminal classification of a third DUI. Generally, a first or second DUI is a misdemeanor. But in many states, like Utah and Virginia, third DUIs are classified as felonies.

How Long Priors Stay on Your Record

In some states, such as Indiana, DUI convictions stay on your record forever: A third DUI will count as a third offense regardless of how long ago you got your first and second DUIs. Other states count prior DUIs for sentencing purposes only if they occurred within a certain period of time (the DUI "look-back" period) of the most recent offense. For instance, with a look-back period of ten years like California has, a DUI will generally count as a third offense only if the driver has two other DUIs convictions that occurred within the past ten years.

DUI laws vary by state, including those for third-offense DUIs. See our state-specific articles to learn about the laws for third-offense DUIs in your state.

Talk to a DUI Defense attorney
We've helped 115 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you