8 Things You Didn’t Know About A 3rd DUI

DUI Defense Legal Guide

If convicted of a 3rd DUI your driving privileges may be revoked rather than simply suspended and you may be designated as a habitual traffic offender for a period of three years.

DMV Hearing

After a third arrest for a DUI or wet reckless driving, you may think you know exactly what is going to happen throughout the DUI proceedings and what penalties you will face.  As you may recall, after an arrest for a DUI, the arresting officer is required to immediately forward a copy of the notice of suspension or revocation form and any driver license confiscated to the DMV.  If the suspension or revocation is upheld during the DMV’s administrative review, you have the right to request a hearing to contest the suspension or revocation.

You must request the hearing from the DMV:

→    Within 10 days of receipt of the suspension or revocation order, which you will likely receive upon your arrest.

If the review at the DMV shows that there is no basis for the suspension or revocation, the action will be set aside and your driving privileges will be reinstated.  The DMV will notify you in writing only if the suspension of revocation is set aside following the administrative review.  However, this process has no affect on the outcome or penalties from your criminal court case.

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Penalty for a 3rd DUI in California

Following a third offense within 10 years, penalties imposed by the court are usually:

  • Not less than 120 days
  • No more than one year of imprisonment in the county jail.
  • Fined not less than $390, not more than $1,000.


If the court grants you probation, the court will impose on you a punishment of not less than 120 days in county jail but no more than one year as well as another fine of between $390 and $1,000.

The court may also order you to complete, subsequent to any jail time, a 30-month driving under the influence program whether or not you have already taken one for your previous convictions.  You may make a request and show good cause to have your time period in jail not exceed 30 days but this does not change the program you will have to undertake.12

California Third DUI Frequently Asked Questions

1) What are considered “aggravating factors” in my DUI case?

An aggravating factor is an additional charge that can affect the penalties of your DUI and the following is a non-exhaustive list:

  1.  Driving on a suspended license
  2. Auto accident
  3. Hit and run
  4. Minor or child in the car 
  5. Chemical test refusal
  6. Speeding Enhancement
  7. Alcohol content of .15 or higher
2) Will I be required to attend Alcoholic Anonymous classes or other programs?

In addition to the driving under the influence program that you will have to complete, the judge may also impose collateral sentences that may require you to attend AA programs, hospital and morgue programs, or other programs that impart the seriousness of a DUI.

3) What happens if I was still on probation from my second DUI at the time of my arrest for my third DUI?

It is likely that your probation will be revoked and the penalties associated with your third DUI will be much harsher than if you were no longer on probation.

4) Will I be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device on my car?

Yes. In most counties it is still discretionary for the judge to require you to install an Ignition Interlock Device after the first California DUI charge.  However, after a second DUI and for a third DUI or wet reckless offense within 10 years, it is mandatory that the judge requires you to have an Ignition Interlock Device on any car that you may drive after the period of revocation of your license has ended3.

5) How does my refusal of a chemical test for both DUI arrests affect the penalties?

In California, if you are suspected of driving under the influence, you are deemed to consent to a chemical breath test.  If you refuse when arrested, the punishments will be much harsher.  Additionally, if you refuse a Breathalyzer test you will not qualify for the limited privilege of a restricted license.

6) What if the officer had no probable cause to pull me over?

Considering the steep consequences of a 3rd DUI conviction, your DUI attorney will look closely at the specific police procedures used to arrest you and the evidence against you. Under the law, the officer needed an independent basis to pull you over in the first place, such as your violation of a separate traffic offense. If he or she lacked that probable cause, then your rights may have been violated. Additionally, your attorney can challenge the reliability of breathalyzer results and other evidence in an attempt to avoid a conviction altogether.

7) Is it likely that the judge will allow a community service or work sentence to replace the mandatory jail time?

The likelihood varies by county, however it is still possible, though less likely that a judge will convert a jail sentence to a probation one.  A conversion is even less likely if you were convicted of a second DUI in California while still on probation from your first DUI.

8) Is there any chance of keeping my license after a third DUI offense?

No. Unless you are not convicted of the offense or the charges are dropped for lack of evidence or procedural errors, then you can expect to lose your license for an extended period of time. Under California law, there is automatic license suspension for even the first time DUI. The length of the suspension increases with each subsequent offense and many be extended if

9) What is the difference between a license revocation and a license suspension?

When your license is suspended, you will get it back after the designated period of time.  When your license is revoked after your third DUI offense, you will not get it back until you show proof of your completion of the driving under the influence program.

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Hiring An Attorney

The state of California has implemented some of our nation’s harshest DUI laws and if you get arrested for a DUI a third time, the penalties increase immensely in severity.  It is important to find a knowledgeable California attorney who can assist you in reducing the charges or fighting for lesser penalties.

At the Aizman Law Firm, our experienced DUI attorneys can help you with questions you might have about the entire DUI process and penalties for an offender. If you need to speak to a DUI attorney about your case, please call our office at: (818) 351-9555 for a confidential free consultation.

Our Attorneys

Diana Aizman
Founding Attorney
(818) 351-9555
Blithe Leece

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  1. California Vehicle Code 23546: If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of two separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, or any combination thereof, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 120 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 as required in paragraph (5) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender his or her driver’s license to the court in accordance with Section 13550. (b) A 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 []
  2. CaliforniaVehicle Code 23548:  If the court grants probation to any person punished under Section 23546, in addition to the provisions of Section 23600 and any other terms and conditions imposed by the court, the court shall impose as conditions of probation that the person be confined in the county jail for at least 120 days but not more than one year and pay a fine of at least three hundred ninety dollars ($390) but not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000 []
  3. California Vehicle Code section 23575(f)(1); If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 and the offense occurred within 10 years of one or more separate violations of Section 23152 or 23153 that resulted in a conviction, or if a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, and is suspended for one year under Section 13353.3, the person may apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a restricted driver’s license pursuant to Section 13352 or 13353.3 that prohibits the person from operating a motor vehicle unless that vehicle is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device, certified pursuant to Section 13386. The restriction shall remain in effect for at least the remaining period of the original suspension or revocation and until all reinstatement requirements in Section 13352 or 13353.4 are met []