Drunk driving is a priorable offense in California. Penalties increase with every prior DUI arrest within ten years. Thus, a third DUI in California will likely attract more severe penalties than a first and second. Penalties could include jail time, revocation of your driver’s license, and a hefty fine. It is advisable to engage the services of an experienced DUI attorney to avoid these and other consequences of a conviction. At Koenig Law Office, we offer legal support and defense for those that face third DUI charges in Bakersfield, CA. Our team of competent DUI attorneys will study the details of your case to determine the right strategies for a favorable outcome.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest in California — An Overview
A DUI arrest is severe, like any other arrest in California. You will go through California’s complex legal process until the conclusion of your case. Legal help is usually available from competent DUI attorneys. A good choice of an attorney will determine how smooth the process will be for you and the outcome of your case.
When you face a DUI arrest in California, the officer will first confiscate your license. He/she will then issue you with a pink document to serve as an interim license. The temporary permit is only valid for 30 days, after which you will not drive until the California Department of Motor vehicles reinstates your driving privilege. Additionally, the officer will take a breath or blood sample to test your BAC. He/she will then send your BAC results to the DMV.
The law allows you ten days after your arrest to request a DMV hearing to challenge the revocation or suspension of your license. The ten days include weekends. The outcome of this administrative hearing will determine the status of your driving privilege even before the conclusion of your criminal case. Failing to make this request within the given period will cause your temporary driver’s license to expire after 30 days, and you will not be able to drive until the end of the suspension period, which is typically three years for a third DUI.
It is advisable to request a DMV hearing right after your arrest to keep driving in the state. If you already have a lawyer, he/she can challenge the suspension during the hearing with a DMV officer. The presence of an attorney could improve your chances of winning this hearing. Your driver’s license will also not be suspended until the end of the hearing, even after 30 days.
Remember that you will have to undergo a criminal trial since DUI is a criminal offense in California. The prosecutor will file charges in court soon after your arrest. He/she will also use evidence gathered against you by the police to convince the court to convict you of a third DUI. If the prosecutor does not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, the court will acquit you of all your charges.
The help of an attorney during this proceeding also helps with the case’s outcome. An aggressive attorney will fight your charges to compel the court to dismiss or reduce them. That will help you avoid the severe consequences of a DUI conviction.
The DMV Hearing
DMV will automatically schedule a hearing for your case soon after filing a request. DMV administrative hearings are usually conducted by a DMV officer in a DMV office. You can choose to attend the hearing in person or conduct it over the phone. You can go alone or in the company of your attorney, or you can have your attorney attend the hearing in your place. Remember that legal representation is optional in these hearings. However, a competent attorney will improve your chances of success.
During the hearing, the DMV officer will address specific issues regarding your case, including the officer’s likely cause for arrest and your BAC test results. The officer will also consider the number of prior DUI arrests in your record and whether you submitted to DUI tests upon request by the officer.
In this hearing, your attorney’s role will be to counter any evidence the DMV officer might have against you. For instance, your attorney could argue that the arresting officer did not have a valid reason to stop you at the time or a possible cause for your arrest. If your attorney manages to convince the officer to set aside the suspension or revocation of your license, you may be able to continue driving pending the outcome of your criminal case.
Note that the outcome of your DMV hearing will not determine the outcome of your criminal case. The two are separate legal proceedings. However, your attorney can gather information from the DMV hearing that could help during your criminal trial.
The Criminal Trial
The criminal trial for a DUI case is different from an administrative hearing. A prosecutor conducts criminal trials, and you have to appear in court before a judge. During this trial, the prosecutor attempts to prove all the elements of your offense beyond reasonable doubts. Your attorney’s role will be to counter the allegations using legally-accepted defense strategies. If the prosecutor fails in his/her mandate, the court will dismiss or reduce your charges.
Your third DUI charge will hold if the prosecutor proves the following elements before a jury:
- That you were driving a vehicle at the time of the arrest
- You did so while under the effect of drugs or alcohol, had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more, or was addicted to a particular drug.
- You have two prior DUI convictions within ten years
If the prosecutor fails to prove any of those elements in court, the court will dismiss or reduce your charges, depending on the circumstances of the offense.
But if he/she successfully proves all the elements, the case will proceed to the sentencing stage, where the judge gives a guilty verdict. The judge has total discretion in determining the penalties that best suit your case.
California 3rd Offense DUI and Implications
As previously mentioned, a third DUI offense in California occurs when you face a third DUI arrest within ten years. The first three DUI convictions within ten years are usually misdemeanors. However, their penalties differ since they increase with every prior conviction. Even though both are misdemeanors, a first DUI conviction will attract less severe penalties than a third DUI conviction. California trial court judges have total discretion in deciding the appropriate punishment for each DUI conviction.
Here are possible penalties you could receive after a third DUI conviction in Bakersfield. Note that the list is not exclusive. You might receive more or less of these penalties based on the details of your case.
- $2,500 to $3,000 in court fines
- Jail time for 120 days to one year
- Mandatory enrollment to a DUI school
- Misdemeanor probation for three to five years
- Installation of an IID system in every vehicle you drive
- Payment of restitution to a victim if one was involved in your case
- Driver’s license suspension for three years — You could be eligible for a restricted license after 18 months
- Mandatory registration as a habitual traffic offender for three years
The gravity of your punishment will depend on the details of your case. Some factors can enhance your penalties after a third DUI conviction, including:
- Causing an accident while drunk driving in which another person is injured or killed
- Reckless driving or speeding while driving under the influence
- Damaging another person’s property in your drunk driving state
- Failing to submit to BAC blood or breath testing after an arrest
- Having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15% or more
- Drunk driving with a child of below 14 years as a passenger in the vehicle
Each of those factors will affect your conviction differently. For instance, if you had a child in the car while driving under the influence, it could increase your original jail sentence by 30 days. A higher than standard BAC could increase your jail term by up to 90 days. Thus, your penalties could become even more severe in the presence of one or more aggravating factors. That is why you need to have the best legal representation to avoid a conviction and its powerful implications.
An experienced Bakersfield DUI lawyer will study the details of your case to determine weak points through which he/she can develop your defense. For instance, if the arresting officer made a mistake at the beginning of your case, it could cause the jury to dismiss some of the evidence the officer gathered after that mistake. An experienced DUI lawyer will aggressively fight against your charges until you obtain a fair outcome for your case.
Possible Legal Defense Strategies for a Third DUI Charge
Even though a third DUI is a misdemeanor in California, its penalties after conviction are stiff and life-altering. Additionally, it will increase the number of prior DUI convictions in your criminal record. If you face another DUI arrest within ten years from the first, you will automatically face a felony DUI charge. Penalties for the fourth DUI will be graver. That is why you should find the best DUI attorney to develop a solid defense against your third DUI charges. Fortunately for you, your attorney can use legally-acceptable defense strategies to compel the court to drop or reduce your charges. Some of these strategies are:
Lack of Probable Cause for Arrest
The law requires the police to have likely cause for stopping a motorist for a DUI investigation. No driver should be stopped randomly and taken through a DUI investigation without probable cause. The police cannot arrest a motorist without a valid reason. It could be that the motorist committed a traffic infraction or was speeding or driving recklessly. But if the possible cause for your arrest is lacking in your case, your attorney might convince the court to dismiss your third DUI charge.
The law only allows the police to stop a motorist for DUI if the motorist exhibits signs of drunk driving while on the road. Another place you could be stopped for a DUI investigation is in a DUI checkpoint. If not, you may use this as a defense to have your DUI charges dropped or dismissed.
The Officer Failed to Read Your Miranda Rights
The law also guides the police on what they must do before and after a DUI arrest. The arresting officer must not be quick to arrest you for DUI until he/she reads your Miranda rights. The officer must ensure that you understand your right to remain silent after an arrest to avoid complicating your matter further. If the officer continued with the arrest and gathered evidence against you without reading your rights, your attorney would be able to use this strategy as a defense. If the court accepts it, any evidence the officer might have gathered against you will be inadmissible in court.
False-Positive BAC Results
A positive BAC result does not necessarily mean that you have alcohol in your blood. Sometimes a false positive BAC result could cause you to face DUI charges for an offense you did not commit. Certain factors could contribute to this. For instance, using specific products like mouthwash could cause your breath to test positive for alcohol while, in the real sense, you have not been drinking. Conditions like acid reflux could also generate a false positive BAc result. An experienced attorney will know how to use this strategy effectively to have your third DUI charge dropped.
Your attorney can use this strategy to challenge your third DUI arrest. Your arrest could be termed illegal if it occurred at an unlawful DUI checkpoint. State law provides a detailed guideline that the police must follow in setting up a DUI checkpoint. For instance, a checkpoint must be strategically located safely and well-lit. Drivers must find a safe place to pull over once stopped by the police. The police must advertise the checkpoint days in advance. The team of police at the checkpoint should have a leader who should coordinate and provide guidelines to all officers on what they should do at that time. Officers at the checkpoint must have criteria by which they will stop the vehicles.
If none of these and other guidelines were followed in setting up the checkpoint, your arrest could be illegal. Your attorney might be able to compel the court to drop any evidence gathered against you after your illegal arrest.
Expungement of Your 3rd DUI Conviction Record
Expungement of a criminal record is a legal process through which you might be able to withdraw a plea of guilty or no contest, or to enter a not guilty plea, then have a court dismiss your case altogether. When that happens, you will be relieved of all the negative implications of a criminal conviction. Note that a criminal court can expunge one conviction after another. Therefore, if you have other convictions in your criminal record, you might have to file a separate expungement petition for them.
A criminal conviction is life-altering. Other than the criminal consequences, you will likely face other life-changing consequences. For instance, you may not be able to find suitable employment with a criminal record in California. That is why the California justice system allows people with criminal records to petition criminal courts to expunge those records.
You may be able to file for the expungement of your criminal record after a conviction for a third DUI in California. When that happens, the record will not be publicly available. It means that no one will know or use your criminal record against you in the future. However, you will be expected to disclose your history when seeking a government job.
To have the court expunge your criminal record, you must have completed probation and/or jail time as ordered by the judge. If you wish to apply for the expungement before completing probation, you will be able to apply for earlier termination of probation. If granted, the court might have your record expunged altogether. Remember that the judge has complete discretion in making decisions like these. If you violated probation, he/she might not terminate your probation before its completion. In that case, you might have to wait until you complete probation to apply for the expungement of your criminal record.
Find An Experienced Criminal Attorney Near Me
Are you or your loved one facing a third DUI charge in Bakersfield, CA?
Knowing the nature and implications of a charge like that is necessary. You also need to prepare well for a defense to avoid a conviction and its consequences. At Koenig Law Office, we have a team of competent criminal defense attorneys that will be willing and ready to take up your case. We will guide you through the legal process, help you make the right decisions regarding your matter, and develop a solid defense against your charges. Call our Bakersfield DUI Lawyer at 661-793-7222 and let us strategize together for a fair outcome of your case.
Dial (661) 793-7222 now and schedule your free consultation with Koenig Law Office.