7 Things You Should Know About a 4th DUI In California

California Vehicle Code 23550

Overview

By: Diana Aizman
Founding Attorney at Aizman Law Firm

In California, DUIs and wet reckless charges are priorable offenses.  This means that each time you are convicted of another DUI or wet reckless offense, the penalties increase in length and severity because of your past offenses.  If you are convicted of a fourth DUI, you will most likely be facing a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor.

California Vehicle Code Section 23550 states that a person who is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) within 10 years of three or more separate driving DUI charges resulting in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than 180 days nor more than one year with a fine of between $390 and $1,0001.  Additionally, a person convicted of a fourth offense DUI will be designated as a habitual traffic offender for a period of three years subsequent to the fourth DUI conviction.2

Minimum Days In Jail
  • County Jail

Drivers License Revocation

The DMV requires a four-year driver license revocation for when you are convicted of a fourth offense felony DUI3 . Revocation means that your privilege to drive a vehicle is terminated for a period of time, after which a new driver’s license must be obtained before your privilege is reinstated.  You will not be eligible for a restricted or temporary drivers  license.

How Does The Prosecution Prove The Charge

The prosecution has to prove two elements to convict you of a felony DUI.

In order to prove your past three convictions, the prosecuting attorney can show past court records, DMV records, or certificates of completion or attendance from any court imposed driving under the influence classes.

Legal Defenses

Many of the defenses that an attorney can structure for a fourth DUI offense are the same as all other DUI’s.  Challenging the current DUI charge that you are facing by analyzing the police report and either questioning procedure or evidence in your case. Challenging procedure and evidence would entail the following methods.

Procedure
Evidence

4th Time DUI FAQs

1. Will a wet reckless and dry reckless appear as a priorable conviction on my record?

A wet reckless is considered a prior offense and will increase your penalties as you receive subsequent convictions for either other DUIs or wet reckless offenses.  A dry reckless offense is not considered a prior offense in relation to previous DUI convictions because there is no automatic connection between the dry reckless and DUI.

2. What is the difference if my license is revoked instead of suspended?

If you are convicted of a fourth DUI, your license is revoked instead of suspended.  A drivers’ license suspension is for a fixed period of time and at the end of that period you can get a license if you can show SR-22 insurance.  A revocation is for an indefinite period of time though this does not usually mean forever.  To get your license back you have to apply to the DMV at the end of the revocation and they have to reestablish your driving privilege.

3. What is Habitual Traffic Offender status mean?

It is unlawful for a person whose driving privilege has been suspended or revoked to accumulate a driving record history, which results from driving during the period of suspension or revocation. A person who violates this subdivision is designated an habitual traffic offender.5

Related Issues

Misdemeanor DUI – The prosecution is most likely going to charge you with a felony DUI upon your fourth offense.  It is possible that your attorney can challenge the charge and get it reduced to a misdemeanor charge if there are weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you.  A misdemeanor charge will carry with it less harsh penalties than a felony conviction.

Dry Reckless  – A dry reckless charge is usually offered as a plea when the prosecution’s case against you has some weaknesses and the state would rather have a conviction than lose a trial.  A dry reckless is not a priorable offense, meaning that it will not count as a previous offense when determining the penalties of your current offense. 

Wet Reckless – A wet reckless offense is only offered as a plea when the prosecution believes there is a weakness in your case.  It is important to remember that a wet reckless is a priorable offense and will contribute to an increase in your penalties when you have multiple convictions.

Aizman Law Firm Difference -What We Do To Fight Your Case

Resolute Defense In Your DMV Hearing: Including

  • Review of the police report for any shortcomings in the investigation.
  • Subpoenaing the records of maintenance and accuracy logs on the specific PAS and/or ECIR machine used to conduct your exam.
  • Strategizing any viable defenses to preserve your license, etc.

Zealous Defense In Your Criminal Proceedings: Including

  • Extensive review of the police report for possible defenses.
  • Subpoeaning the video footage (“dash cameras”) of the traffic stop, if any taken.
  • Have any blood drawn retested by an independent facility.
  • File any important Pretrial motions (i.e., Motion to Suppress the evidence against you, Pitchess Motion for officer misconduct at arrest, etc.)
  • Plea Negotiations with prosecutors to garner a charge reduction.
  • Dismissal of the case, if applicable for insufficient evidence.

Dynamic Defense In Your Trial Proceeding: Including

  • File pre-trial motions to seek to exclude any non-relevant evidence that prosecutors may try to use in trial.
  • Utilize research on demographic set for jury selection
  • Cross examine all witnesses including law enforcement & government expert
  • Present expert testimony in your favor

In Recognition Of Our Work, We Have Been Awarded

How We Can Help

Because a fourth DUI offense, a felony, carries such severe penalties, it is important that you contact a specialized attorney that will be able to create a defense out of weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.

If you have been arrested and would like to learn more about what attorneys charge.

If you want to understand why its important to have an attorney represent you.

If you are ready to discuss a pending case with an attorney contact the Aizman Law Firm at 818-351-9555 for a free confidential consultation.

Get Legal Help

Request A Free Consultation (818) 351-9555

Footnotes

  1. California Vehicle Code 23550(a) – If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of three or more separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23152 or 23153, or any combination thereof, that resulted in convictions, that person shall by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code, or in a county jail for not less than 180 days nor more than one year, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver’s license to the court in accordance with Section 13550. []
  2. California Penal Code Section 23550(b) – person convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under this section shall be designated as a habitual traffic offender for a period of three years, subsequent to the conviction. The person shall be advised of this designation pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 13350. []
  3. California Vehicle Code 13352(a)(7 []
  4. California Vehicle Code §23152(b []
  5. California Vehicle Code §14601.3(a []

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