Vista DUI Attorney firm is a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and criminal defense law firm which serves the areas of Vista and North County in California. Our attorneys are among the top rated attorneys in southern California, with a proven track record of success. We will personally handle every DUI case and advise accordingly to ensure our clients have peace of mind.

Driving under the Influence (DUI), is a serious crime with life-changing consequences. DUI happens when you operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or greater, or if your BAC is 0.04 or higher for commercial driver’s license holders. Minors or persons below the age of eighteen (18) years can be charged with DUI if their alcohol level rises above 0.01.

Third (3rd) Offense DUI and License Suspension in California

If you had two (2) previous arrests for DUI within a ten (10) year time frame and you are arrested for a 3rd DUI violation, you could face two different driver license suspensions which are independent of each other.

  1. Court Drivers’ License Suspension

In case you are charged in court and sentenced for a third time DUI offense you may get a three (3) years license suspension together with other penalties meant for criminal purposes which includes jail terms, probation periods, drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs and court-imposed fines. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may, however, allow you to continue operating your motor vehicle during the license suspension period as long as you get an Ignition Interlock Device set up in your car lasting for 2 years.

  1. DMV Drivers’ License Suspension

The DMV also suspends your driver’s license in case you are arrested for a third time DUI offense and you lose the DMV hearing, for a one year period. You are however allowed to continue driving during this suspension period if you get an Ignition interlock Device (IID) installed. We will elaborate further on the DMV license suspension for a 3rd offense below.

DMV License Suspension: 3rd Offense

Most crimes do not attract formal punishment until you are actually sentenced in a court or if you enter a plea bargain, however for a DUI crime, there are administrative penalties as long as you are arrested lawfully. The penalties include license suspension and administrative fees penalized against you regardless of whether you are actually convicted or not. The DMV License suspension is administered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV automatically suspends the driver’s license of anyone arrested for a DUI and whose Blood Alcohol Concentration is over 0.08% or those who decline to submit a breath or blood test. The automatic driver’s suspension is also known as an ‘administrative per se’ suspension and is triggered by the DUI arrest instead of a court conviction.

In case you are arrested for a 3rd time DUI offense, where your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you may get an immediate license suspension as mandated by the Administrative Per Se (APS) suspension law. A short-term license, valid for a month (30 days) is then issued to you to let you continue with your daily life activities as a hearing is set to determine whether your driver’s license should be suspended or not.

You should apply to contest the suspension in writing to the DMV within ten (10) days of the arrest, failure to do so will lead to forfeiting your legal rights to contest the administrative suspension. In such a case, your license suspension is upheld, and your driving rights are suspended for a period of up to one (1) year. This is also the case if you lose your DMV hearing. The one-year license suspension period begins as soon as the 30 day period is over.

When sentenced in court and your driver’s license is suspended for 3 years and you also get the one (1) year suspension period from the DMV, you will serve those two penalties concurrently.

What Must the State Prove to Obtain a License Suspension at the DMV Hearing?

A hearing is convened to determine whether DMV has any basis to enforce the suspension of the driver’s license. The state must, therefore, prove that; the arresting officer had reason to believe that the defendant was operating the alleged vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the arrest was made legally without infringing on the rights of the defendant, the driver declined to submit to the chemical tests even after being told of the results of their actions or they had a blood Alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more.

The DMV’s hearing officer who is charged with deciding the case will consider the evidence presented by the arresting officer that includes; chemical test results, sworn testimony or affidavit of observed poor driving, slurred speech or reeking alcohol and the driver’s performance on field sobriety tests.

What are the Benefits of Requesting a Hearing? 

Your attorney can help you apply with the DMV for an opportunity to state your case within the stipulated 10 days after you are arrested, and this ensures that the DMV sets aside the suspension of your license till your hearing is conducted. Hiring an attorney may increase the chances of having the DMV dismiss your suspension because a public or state-provided lawyer is not available at the DMV hearing.

A hearing request may also provide you with a chance to beat the administrative license suspension in that the arresting officer may fail to show up at the hearing or they may provide insufficient evidence. In such an instance, your attorney will be able to negotiate for the case to be dismissed and you can retain your driver’s license as you now wait to face your criminal case for the 3rd DUI violation.

The attorney may also come in handy at the criminal court proceedings for the 3rd DUI offense which you have to face despite the fact that you have been subjected to the DMV hearing already. A DMV loss may also mean a lot to your attorney since it will help them in evaluating the state’s case to check its strengths and weaknesses and enable them to come up with viable defenses since they already got a sneak peek of what to expect. 

An attorney’s job is to protect your legal rights and as such, it is advisable to take your attorney with you to the DMV hearing since anything you do or say at the hearing may be used against you in your criminal 3rd DUI violation case.

There is only one sure way through which you can avoid the suspension of your driver’s license, your attorney can help you win the DMV hearing and also ensure that your innocence is upheld by the court. In case it does not work out that way, they may negotiate with the DMV to have an Interlock Ignition Device set up in your vehicle or get a restricted license for you.

Interlock Ignition Device (IID) Restricted License

An interlock ignition device is a breathalyzer installed in a vehicle which requires the driver to blow into the device before they can start their vehicle. It prevents the vehicle’s engine from starting in case it senses more alcohol content in the driver’s breath than it is programmed to allow. California DMV may allow drivers whose licenses have been suspended to continue driving as long as they install an IID in their vehicles as it is outlined under the California Senate Bill 1046 (2018).

The IID restricted license is valid for a two (2) years period for a 3rd DUI offense.

The law will require the driver to fill an SR22 form which is an insurance policy that indicates that you have acquired auto liability insurance. You will also need to complete DUI classes and clear all requisite fees pertaining to an IID restricted license.

Restricted License

A restricted license is only available after a driver has completed a year of their alcohol rehabilitation program of the required 18 months or 30 months program. This license allows the offender to drive only for serious causes such as work or treatment or rehabilitation classes.

The defendant will also be obligated to take up SR22 proof of auto liability insurance, pay a hundred and twenty-five dollars ($125) for re-issuance of the driver’s license and install an ignition interlock device.

Relations between DMV Hearings and Criminal Proceedings for a 3rd Offense DUI

Criminal proceedings for a driver arrested for a 3rd offense DUI may take time to start, this is until after the prosecutor receives police report for the arrested driver, reviews it, and files charges in court. This though is not always the case since they may find the evidence lacking and decide not to file any charges. On the other hand, DMV per se proceedings starts immediately after they receive the arresting officer’s report showing they arrested the alleged driver for a DUI exceeding 0.08% or for declining to take the breathalyzer tests. The report is sent electronically and hence the DMV starts the hearings or proceedings soon after the arrest.

The DMV proceeds with the license suspension case whether or not the prosecution files charges or not, and hence, it is possible for a driver to have their licenses suspended even if they are never convicted in court.

Both administrative per se hearings and criminal proceedings allow the defense side and the prosecution a chance to present their arguments and counter-arguments and also, in both types of proceedings the State has the burden of proof to show that the alleged driver was in contravention of the law.

DMV hearings usually take place in a private room at the local DMV offices presided over by hearing officers who are not necessarily attorneys or judges and do not automatically have a legal background. Thus, DMV hearings are less formal and actually take an hour or so to conduct while court proceedings, in contrast, may take an entire day to conduct. The criminal hearing takes place inside a courtroom, presided over by a judge who then allows the jury to pass the verdict. The hearings are also open to the public and may take even a day to complete.

Unlike criminal proceedings where the prosecution has to prove the elements of DUI crime beyond a reasonable doubt or present very convincing evidence to the court to establish that the defendant was actually operating the alleged car and was actually impaired by alcohol, in DMV hearings, the standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the arresting officer needs to just show that the legality of the DUI stop and arrest, and that the driver failed the BAC test or declined to take the test. They are not bound by law to show this beyond a reasonable doubt.

License Reinstatement after a Suspension

You cannot typically apply online for a license reinstatement with California DMV after a suspension for a 3rd DUI, as such; you have to present yourself at the local DMV offices.

Generally, a reinstatement requires you first to complete any mandatory prison time, license suspension time and undertake required programs such as probation, DUI classes, and community service. After this, you need to visit the local DMV offices with the requisite documentation. It is also a necessity that you purchase the SR22 insurance policy which is designed for high-risk drivers and is also an expensive policy than other ordinary vehicular policies.

You also need to pay the applicable reinstatement fees and court fines if any then apply the license reinstatement form and submit it. The fees for reinstatement after a 3rd offense DUI is twenty-four dollars($24).

California DMV License Suspension-Out of State Drivers

In some instances, the offending driver may be having an out of state driver’s license which might be suspended by the DMV in line with the California Vehicle code if the driver is arrested for a 3rd offense DUI. Such a driver can write to the DMV to have their license suspension terminated but not until after they complete the license suspension period.

Once the suspension period is over, the driver is welcome to contact our attorneys who will help them to;

  • Apply to have the suspension terminated based on Out of State Residency- This is done by filling the waiver forms DL 4005, 4006 and 4007 from the DMV’s ‘mandatory unit’ which are ordered by calling the unit via (916) 657-6576 or Fax (916) 657-5942 using an out of state area code or your home state phone.
  • Affirm that the driver will not return to drive in California until after three (3) years. This also enables the driver to avoid the mandatory alcohol program as necessitated by the DMV. It is advisable that you undertake the alcohol program in California instead of waiting for the DMV suspension period to end so that you are able to terminate the suspension by requesting for the waiver.
  • Fill the waiver form which also includes an out of state SR22 which is designed for high-risk drivers. The waiver form also has clear information on how to fill the affidavit and the documents you need to include as you submit the waiver form. Processing this information may take between four (4) to eight (8) weeks.
  • Request for the waiver from the DMV and follow up with them to process your file. Kindly note that you only have one chance in a lifetime to apply for this waiver, as per the DMV.

In case you are an out of state driver, hiring a lawyer to represent you during this process is paramount because you may lose your license to operate a motor vehicle even in your home state if your license is suspended by the DMV. Like California residents, even an out of state drivers may continue driving in California if they get an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles.

Finding Legal Representation for a DMV Hearing Near Me

The state may provide you with an attorney during criminal proceedings or you may hire your own attorney at your expense however, for the DMV hearing, you do not have an automatic right to a lawyer. Unless you hire one, you are completely on your own. Representing yourself may be a great misstep which can negatively impact your criminal charges in court.

As such, it is better to contact Vista DUI Attorney Law Firm whose lawyers are widely reputed for their legal prowess and dedication to their work. The attorneys will go over the circumstances of your case and advise you accordingly. With over 61 years of combined experience, the Vista DUI Attorney firm can be your best bet. We specialize in DUI crimes, and this gives us an upper hand due to familiarity in this area of practice. 

We serve the areas of Vista and North County and we are at your service 24 hours, 7 days a week. Contact us at 760-691-1540 to have us by your side.