In many instances, a third DUI is not going to be brought as a felony in California. Instead, if you are arrested for a third DUI in a 10-year period, you will be facing a misdemeanor charge. Remember, a wet reckless conviction will count towards your total number of DUI convictions for the last 10 years.
Speaking with a DUI lawyer is a great way to understand the severity of the charges you’re facing, as well as understanding your defense options. When you’re ready to speak with a skilled DUI lawyer, call us at (310) 896-2724 or enter your contact information on our website. We’ll arrange a free consultation with a DUI lawyer who has the experience you need to get the best defense possible.
Penalties for a Misdemeanor 3rd DUI
If you have prior DUIs, you know from experience that California treats repeat DUI offenses more harshly than first-time offenses. When you are convicted of a misdemeanor DUI for the third time, you face:
- Fines up to $1,000
- Additional court fees that could go over $10,000
- A prison term of 6 months to a year
- Regular DUI education classes that will last for more than two years
- License revocation and suspension for three years
As of January 2019, a new California law now requires individuals convicted of a third DUI offense to install an ignition interlock device (IID) into their vehicles. The law requires that you have an IID installed in every vehicle you drive on a regular basis. With a third DUI conviction, you will have to have the IID installed and maintained for three years.
A third DUI conviction could be the last time you face misdemeanor DUI charges. A fourth DUI charge in a 10-year period will likely be charged as a felony.
When a 3rd DUI Becomes a Felony
While a third DUI is typically a misdemeanor, aggravating circumstances can cause the charges to be upgraded to a felony. These factors include:
- Serious injuries to other people
- Causing a fatality
- Having a previous DUI felony conviction
Having a previous DUI felony conviction is one of the exceptions to the rule that DUI convictions follow you for 10 years. There is no time limit for how long a felony DUI will follow you. A felony DUI conviction from 20 years ago is going to be in effect just as well as a felony DUI conviction from seven years ago.
Penalties for a Felony DUI
The penalties for a felony DUI will be substantially more severe than its misdemeanor counterpart. You will face some of the same types of penalties as a misdemeanor, like fines and having to install an IID in your vehicles. However, felony DUIs have some key differences.
First, while you might expect a longer time behind bars, a felony DUI is handled differently. Instead of being sentenced to a local jail, you will be sent to a state penitentiary. You will face more than a year in prison, even if no one was hurt as a result of your DUI. If someone was hurt or killed, you may be looking at more than 10 years in prison.
Second, you’ll be facing restrictions on a couple of rights. While you are serving time in prison for a felony DUI conviction, you will be unable to vote in any election. Your right to bear arms will be revoked entirely in California once you’ve been convicted, even after you’ve completed your prison term and fulfilled any other obligations set by the court.
Handling a 3rd DUI Charge on Your Own Can Be a Huge Mistake
If you have previous DUI convictions on your record, you may believe that you can handle the legal process on your own. However, you are not likely to have the strongest defense possible without an experienced DUI lawyer by your side. By representing yourself, you may end up accepting a harsher set of penalties than you would with legal representation.
A DUI attorney can help you reduce or even eliminate the penalties you face. With a third DUI charge, your attorney can help make a convincing argument that alternative treatment options would be a better choice than a jail sentence. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to challenge enough of the evidence to have the charges against you dropped.
Call (310) 896-2724 today to find out more about how a California DUI lawyer can help you handle your third DUI charge. We’ll connect you with a knowledgeable DUI lawyer, who will evaluate your case and help explain the options available to you. Best of all, your initial consultation is completely free!