The penalties for DUI are usually severe and generally increase with prior convictions. A third time DUI within ten years from the previous conviction would be prosecuted harshly compared to the first and second DUIs. Thus, you should consider having a Vista DUI Attorney to help defend you from the charges. Our experienced attorneys are available in Vista, CA and all the North County cities.

An Overview of DUI Arrests In California

Typically, upon your arrest for DUI, your driving license will be confiscated by the arresting officers. In exchange for the license, you will be given a temporary one whose validity will be thirty days (30). The officers will also demand that you take a BAC test to gauge the level of alcohol in your body. The BAC tests are essential in criminal proceedings for DUI, while the DMV uses the court’s verdict of whether you are guilty in determining the need and period for suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. 

The DMV will give you ten days to present a request for a hearing, otherwise called “DMV hearing.” If the hearing is granted, you have an opportunity to defend your license from being suspended. If you don’t, the license will be suspended automatically after thirty days from the day of confiscation; DMV hearing serves to give you an opportunity to challenge any possible driving license suspension.

What Happens During the DMV Hearing?

Many critical questions are asked during the DMV hearing. For instance, the panel will want to know if, during the traffic stop, there was any reasonable cause or suspicion. Also, they will demand to know if the arresting officer had enough reasons to arrest you. Besides, your BAC report that was presented by the arresting officers will be cross-checked with emphasis made on whether you BAC levels were above 0.08 %. Your criminal record will also be scrutinized to find out if you have had any prior convictions of the same or related offenses. Although you can handle the questions, some may be challenging and beyond your legal understanding. As such, you will require a skilled attorney to help you.

Though the responses of your attorney matters at the hearing, your fate will depend on the decisions of the administrative judges, which may either be to:

  1. Suspend your license automatically if they are not satisfied with your attorney's explanations, or
  2. Keep the license until a criminal offense verdict has been made.

Though the DMV can suspend your license, its decision is not final. That is, you will still have to attend the court’s proceeding on the case, and if you succeed in the trial, your license is acquitted. Similarly, the DMV may find no reason to suspend your license, but the court trial finds you guilty. In that case, your license will still be suspended.

The Criminal Trial

This step usually comes after DMV hearing. It involves the prosecution’s move towards proving the various elements of the crime for your third DUI offense. Therefore, they must confirm that you were operating a vehicle when drunk or under the influence. And that your Blood Alcohol Levels were above 0.08. For the statements to hold, the prosecutor must back them with clear evidence. Most significantly, they must prove that it is your third time to commit the DUI offense.

Penalties and Punishments for Third Offense DUI in California

The jury is usually responsible for determining the type of sentence you will receive for your DUI third time. However, there are common punishments that you are likely to face. Some of them include:

  • Fines that range between 2,500-3000 dollars,
  • One hundred and twenty days to one-year confinement in jail,
  • Orders to attend DUI class backed with evidence of completion, and
  • Where your drunk driving caused injuries to a third party, you will be demanded to restitute or cater for their medical costs.

As a way of discouraging future DUI cases, some jurisdiction may require you to install an Interlock Ignition Device in your vehicle. You may also be subjected to probation, lasting for three to five years. During this period, any amount of alcohol in your blood while driving will violate the terms of probation.

Some situations or factors may enhance your charges and consequently increase the severity of your penalties. They include refusing or defying police’s request to take Blood Alcohol Levels test, reckless and speeding, damaging other people’s property, having a BAC level beyond 0.15%, and the presence of a minor in your vehicle while drunk driving. Mostly, the death of another person resulting from your drunk driving worsens the case.

The possible Defense for Third Offense DUI in California

Generally, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUIs cases are wobblers. Hence, they can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors. This depends on the facts surrounding the case and the presence or absence of aggravating factors mentioned above. In any way, you should attempt as much as you can to avoid any felony DUI conviction – a reason why you will need to secure yourself an experienced attorney. However, you should know that this applies to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUIs only. A fourth and any subsequent violation will automatically land you to felony DUI charges. Among the possible defenses for third offense DUI include:

  1. Illegal DUI checkpoint/arrest: California law demands that all DUI stops, field tests and arrests are made at legally recognized checkpoints. Also, certain predetermined procedures need to be observed. If the check and the subsequent arrests were made at unrecognized places or following wrong procedures, the evidence should not be admitted in court. To succeed though, you will need an attorney who is well versed with the process.
  2. False positive readings: There are instances when your blood test shows that you are intoxicated yet in the real sense, you are not. Such false positives may arise from various sources including your health conditions and the diet you took before the test. Defective testing equipment coupled with wrong procedures may also result in such errors. It would be better for you to seek the services of an experienced attorney who will be able to scrutinize such results and detect any anomaly. 
  3. A possible rise in blood alcohol levels: If your DUI test was taken shortly after taking alcohol, the results might be inaccurate because of the expected rise of alcohol levels in your blood.  If possible, you should demand a test repeat to determine the correct level of alcohol. 
  4. Failure to read your Miranda rights: Generally, if a police officer arrests you, he or she should read out your Miranda rights. Among the options available, you may choose to remain silent. If the officer did not read them for you or ignored your choice, the evidence presented should never be used against you.
  5. The absence of reasonable suspicion or probable doubt: California law demands that the police stops you for DUI checkups if only they have any plausible reason. For example, driving in a reckless manner could be a suspicion reason for your stop. Furthermore, they should subject you to BAC test upon having some hinting factors such as the smell of alcohol, red eyes, slurred speech, and unsteady posture. If none existed during your arrest, the evidence presented against you should be rendered invalid.

Can a Third Time DUI Charge be Expunged From my Records?

The penalties for third-time DUI offenses differ depending on the circumstance of your case. Others may be severely punished and others not. In either case, your charges can be expunged out of your records though you will need the help of a skilled attorney. You should also know that expungement is possible only when you are through with your probation.

Expunging your charges is procedural. First, your attorney files a petition in the court requesting the expungement of your DUI charges. The judge responsible for your case will then go through the appeal to determine whether to grant you the request or not. If a decision is made that your DUI charge is expunged, you will be required to withdraw your ‘no contest’ or ‘guilty pleas’ you had been presented to earlier. Consequently, you will be required to submit a new ‘no guilty plea’ upon which you will automatically be relieved from third time DUI offense. The charges will no longer appear in your background history.   

Charges Related to Third Offense DUI

Fourth Offense DUI

You might have known that California DUI officers review ten years from the first conviction for DUI charges. If it is your fourth time, the consequences will ultimately be steeper than for the other three priors. In most cases, the judges will be speedy in administering penalties because they assume that you don’t take warnings and instructions. They also believe that you are likely to cause more accidents in the future. The penalties for this offense will include:

  • A sentence for a minimum of sixteen months and a maximum of four years,
  • A fine ranging from 390-1000 dollars,
  • Driving license revocation for a minimum of four years, and
  • A habitual offender’s status labeled on you for three years.

In addition to the basic penalties, you may be required to attend DUI educational programs for at least eighteen months or in some extreme cases, for thirty months. You may also be required to go for probation.

Driving under the influence of Drugs (DUID) VC 23152(f) and 23152(g)

It is a crime according to the above legal section to drive while under the influence of a drug other than alcohol. You violate this law if you can no longer operate like a sober person because you took a combination of controlled drugs and alcohol or any other drug regardless of whether it is illegal or prescribed. DUID cases are mostly treated as misdemeanors, but they can sometimes be charged as felonies. Felonies apply if it is your fourth time to commit the offense or if you have a prior DUI charge. You can also face a felony DUID charge if your driving caused severe injuries or death to a third party. Generally, you will encounter the following consequences for your first-time DUID charges:

  • Informal DUI probation that lasts for 3-5 years,
  • Six months driving license suspension by the DMV,
  • Three months of DUI class (drug educational classes), and
  • A fine of at least three hundred and ninety dollars. The amount, however, increases to around 1800 dollars after assessment fees have been added.

Like the first time offense, second and third DUID convictions are penalized with fines, DUI programs, probations, and license suspensions. The duration for each penalty increases with prior convictions. Specifically, for the second and third time DUID, there is a possibility of jail in the county based correctional facility.

Fourth-time DUID, unlike other priors, is treated as a felony. The penalties generally depend on the facts of each offense, but common punishments often include at least one-year driving license suspension, sixteen months to four years confinement in state prison and fines that range from 1000- 5000  dollars 

Through your attorney, you can defend yourself against DUID charges by arguing that, the presence of drugs in your blood system does not necessarily imply that they influenced you. Scientifically, no known correlation equates one's drugged state and their driving impairment. Therefore, you should not be convicted. You can also challenge the judges on the facts that, different individuals are affected differently by drugs, and hence, you should not be accused of drugged driving based on other people’s histories.  Finally, you can convince the jury that you have become tolerant to the prescription following a long term use. As such, the drug no longer interferes with your driving capability.

DUI of Marijuana

Most people tend to consume marijuana together with alcohol. Therefore, an arresting officer will be keen at tracing if the cause of your drunk driving is marijuana. Though California, on 1st of January 2018, legalized recreational use of marijuana, its consumption while driving is still illegal.

You are accused of driving under the influence of marijuana in California if upon consuming the drug, you are impaired in a way that you can’t drive like a sober person under the same conditions. To convict you of the offense, the prosecution must prove beyond any sound reason that while driving, there were detectable levels of marijuana in your system. And that it was the drug that interfered with your driving. A challenge, however, arises when determining the level of intoxication. This is because California has no set limits beyond which marijuana becomes illegal. In some states, the levels of THC is restricted to certain amounts. 

Marijuana use, like alcohol, is measured using some chemicals means. The problem is that the results are not reliable since no limit has been set. Also, experts, including the legal and medical experts, are in constant disagreement on how much marijuana is too much for an individual.

To substantiate the chemical tests, physical symptoms can be used to charge you of the offense, including dilation of the pupil, rapid heart rates, increased breathing rates, and the smell of marijuana. The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana depend on whether your case has been treated as a misdemeanor or felony, but such cases are mostly treated as misdemeanors. You are charged with a felony if you cause serious injuries or death to a third party.

Generally, for a misdemeanor charge, you will be jailed for six months in county jail or attend a DUI school for either three or six months. Your license may also be suspended for a period of six to ten months. In some cases, it can be converted to a restricted license. The penalties generally increase with the number of convictions you face.

A misdemeanor DUI with marijuana causing injury is punishable by between five days to one year in jail, a fine of between three hundred and ninety to one thousand dollars and attendance to a DUI school for a period of three, eighteen or thirty months. Revocation of your driving license for a period of one to three years may also apply. You may also be required to pay for the victim’s restitution fees and any other hospital charges incurred.

Felony DUI with marijuana is punishable by sixteen months, two, or three years in state prison and a fine of 390-100 dollars. Also, you may be required to attend a DUI school for a period of 18 or 30 months. Your license can also be suspended for four years.

Where your felony DUI with marijuana caused injury or death to a third party, penalties will be enhanced and will involve a state prison term ranging from sixteen months to sixteen years. It also includes fines ranging between 1015 and 5000 dollars. You may also be required to attend DUI programs for 18 or 30 months.

Find an Experienced Attorney Near Me

If you are in Vista, CA or the greater North County, you can find an experienced Vista DUI Attorney to help handle your case by calling 760-691-1540. We are dedicated to ensuring you have the most favorable outcomes for your case. Call us today and let us understand your situation.