A third-time DUI offense can greatly impact your privileges and future. You face minimum penalties when you face a conviction for the first or second-time DUI offense. However, you expect severe penalties for committing a DUI offense for the third time. Without legal help, the offense can lead to license suspension and extensive jail terms, among other penalties.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, our highly rated and well-reputed attorney offers legal services to our clients in and across Pasadena. We are dedicated to defending our clients and ensuring they obtain the best possible outcomes in their cases. We are well conversant with the California legal system making us the best law firm to work with.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove
When you face a third time DUI offense, the prosecution team must prove all the key elements before you face conviction. Note the prosecutor has the burden to prove the offense. The key elements to prove in a third-time DUI offense are:
Your Appearance Showed Signs of Intoxication
Apart from showing you surpassed the legal BAC level, the prosecutor must show you displayed potential signs of impairments. The prosecutor gathers enough evidence, like video footage, photographs, and audio recordings, to prove any signs of intoxication.
Based on the type of evidence gathered, the prosecution team can show that intoxication caused impaired judgment. A good example is when you have a bloodshot eye, slurred speech, and lose balance. Also, if law enforcement officers detect an alcohol smell during the arrest, they can include the records under their report.
Later, the prosecution team will use the evidence to prove the signs of intoxication during the arrest. In addition, it is a brilliant idea to remain quiet throughout the legal process. Note your acts can count as physical impairment resulting from alcohol. For example, failure to comply with police instructions during a stop or to insult the officers can prove intoxication.
Driving Patterns Before the Arrest Indicated Intoxication
The surveillance cameras might be placed strategically to record drivers' acts before a stop. The prosecutor may have valid evidence to show your intoxication if this is the case. For example, imagine the video footage showing you speeding or your vehicle barking suddenly. In this situation, the prosecution team will have enough evidence of intoxication. Driving patterns also involve hitting roadblocks.
Again, you might have committed a road accident due to impaired driving. Remember, excessive intoxication levels hinder your ability to respond adequately to dangerous situations. Apart from the DUI penalties, you could also face separate charges for poor driving. When this is your case, the court imposes additional penalties.
Your BAC Level was Above 008% While Driving the Vehicle
The law in California disallows motorists from operating a vehicle with a BAC reading above 0.08%. Failure to observe the law to face DUI charges. So, when you drive a car with a BAC level above the set limit, law enforcement officers have a right to take you to a detention facility for your actions. The officer depends on several tests to determine your alcohol concentration levels.
For example, the arresting officers may require you to take a breathalyzer test where you blow a gadget to record your alcohol concentration. Also, the officer may perform a blood test or urine test. When the results indicate a BAC level above 0.08%, the officers can arrest and book you in a detention facility.
At the court proceedings, the court will use the BAC test results to prove you surpassed the set BAC levels. The prosecutor may list the arresting police officers as the witness in your case. If the judge accepts the evidence provided against you, the prosecutor will have proven the key elements of the crime.
You Have Two Previous DUI Conviction
The last element the prosecution team has to prove is you have two more previous driving while impaired. Remember this is a third DUI offense meaning you have two other prior convictions. Under this element, the prosecutor can prove the element easily because the prosecutor works jointly with the justice department. The department will offer the prosecutor criminal history for their reference.
After obtaining the relevant evidence, the prosecutor presents the details to the criminal court to show you are eligible for a third-time DUI offense conviction. You can, however, revert the charge by arguing you do not have previous DUI arrests since you reached an agreement with the involved party. Your attorney must collect all the relevant evidence to help prove you have never faced a past DUI arrest.
What are the Legal Penalties For Violating California Penal Code 1202.4?
After the prosecutor proves all the elements, the criminal court judge will sentence you by evaluating the information provided. Mostly, the penalties for committing third offense DUI are severe. The penalties and punishment for committing the crime vary based on the facts surrounding the offense and aggravating factors in your case. Below are the sentencing punishments you may face after violating PC 1202.4.
A Jail Term
As a repeat offender, you may face a jail sentence that ranges from four to twelve months depending on the judge’s decision. The judge decides the sentence using the facts of your case and outlying circumstances.
For a third-time offense DUI, You face a probation sentence ranging from three to 5 years. The criminal court judge will issue probation to you as an alternative to a jail term and penalty sentence. Again, the judge places you on probation to encourage you to reform. During the probation period, the jury assigns you a probation expert.
You want to communicate with the probation officer at the appointed time. You must also present a progress record to them. Probation contains restraints and directives. As a third-time DUI, you must follow the orders consistently or face severe punishments. For example, you face additional penalties when you commit additional crimes during the probation sentence.
During the probation period, you must present a random drug and alcohol test to your probation expert. With the random test, you must avoid taking alcohol throughout the probation term to avoid added penalties. As part of probation, the judge may require you to participate in alcoholic meetings for some time to help in your rehabilitation.
You want to keep all the records of your attendance at the institutions. Also, you must present them to your rehabilitation expert after every meeting. After your probation, the criminal court judge will assess your performance. You may easily fight the charge when you provide a positive probation report.
Habitual Traffic Offender Designation
Apart from completing your jail or probation term, you receive the designation of a habitual offender. The reputation may bring inconveniences after your service in jail. For example, a traffic official may put you under scrutiny, like checking for a driver’s license. Always work closely with your lawyer to help you throughout the legal process.
Attendance of Compulsory DUI Classes
The DMV official may require you to attend compulsory DUI classes to help you recover from alcohol addiction. In the DUI classes, you learn the risks of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You attend the DUI classes for 18 months. Each session provides information about the various factors that may result in DUI and addiction. Please attend the DUI classes to ensure you complete your sessions and punishment on time.
Installation of IID Device
The law may require you to install the device in your car. In this case, you wait until DMV reinstates your license. Your vehicle engine will start once you blow into the IID system to measure your BAC levels. An IID ensures you avoid operating your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Again, the device keeps taking random tests as you operate your vehicle.
Once the device detects any amount of alcohol on your breath, the vehicle will automatically stop. Again the IID device registers the test. When you register for DUI, it affects your sentence. You want to consult your attorney if the law requires you to install the IID device in your car. The attorney will help you know more about how the device works.
Committing a 3rd offense of DUI calls for license suspension for 36 months. You cannot operate your vehicle within California for the stipulated time when your license is revoked. However, you may apply for a limited license after 18 months. The limited license allows you to operate your vehicle to places like DUI school and school work.
Factors Which Enhance Your Sentencing
Aggravating factors increase possible penalties for a DUI conviction. Examples of aggravating factors include:
High Blood Alcohol Content
Blood alcohol content refers to your level of impairment. Drivers with a BAC exceeding the legal limit (0.08%) will face harsher penalties than drivers with lower BACs. A standard penalty for a high blood alcohol content includes increased jail time and longer license suspension time.
You Drove at a High Speed
Apart from driving while intoxicated, it is a crime to exceed the speed limit on the highway. Your driving speed poses a danger on the road. Therefore, you may face increased punishment for driving at high speed while intoxicated.
During a DUI arrest, law enforcement officers request you to submit urine, blood, or breath to run a chemical test. The law requires you to submit the testing when facing arrest for DUI. When you refuse to take the chemical test, you will face an enhanced sentence and additional two years of license suspension.
You were Under 21 Years When Facing Third-Time DUI Conviction
California laws prohibit alcohol intake for people under 21 years. Facing a charge for DUI will attract severe punishment, especially if it is your third time violating the rules. Again, you can not justify why you should not receive enhanced punishment. The judge will consider you reckless as you face DUI charges for the third time. Therefore may face an increased jail term.
How Your DUI Attorney Can Assist You Challenge the Prosecution Team
With the legal assistance of your competent DUI attorney, you can fight the 3rd DUI offenses. When you work with the right attorney, you increase the chances of winning the case. The best thing to do is hire an attorney immediately after your arrest to give them ample time to handle the case. Your lawyer can help you by doing the following:
A well-skilled and experienced DUI attorney understands how to develop a strong defense after gathering sufficient evidence. Gathering evidence involves interviewing eyewitnesses and obtaining audio and video recordings surrounding your case.
For example, the arresting officers might state they stopped you because of using a mobile while operating the vehicle. However, after investigating your phone, the attorney discovered you did not communicate with anyone immediately before your arrest. The discovery will play a key role in fighting the charge.
Obtaining a Fair Plea Deal
Another benefit of working with a DUI attorney is that they will help you secure a favorable plea bargain. Since many DUI cases do not settle at the court, working with a well-skilled attorney is imperative to help negotiate a fair plea deal. The available plea bargain deals in a 3rd offense DUI include wet reckless, an exhibition of speed, or dry reckless. Sometimes, the court may dismiss the charges.
Your DUI attorney will play a critical role in interpreting your case. The attorney uses the available evidence as a basis to file a motion and weaken the case. The motions include a motion to suppress proof and a pitches motion. The attorney then presents the motion to the court before the court trial.
Arguing the Potential Defenses to Challenge the Case
If the plea bargain negotiations hit the bar and the case makes it to the criminal court, you still stand an opportunity to win. Your attorney has a variety of defenses to use before the court and challenge the charges.
However, your attorney must be experienced, aggressive, familiar with the California court system, and should have worked with prosecutors and judges. The attorney will then apply the various defense strategies to lower your charges or dismiss your case. The following are legal defenses your lawyer may use to help you win your case:
The Field Sobriety Tests Provided Inaccurate Results
When charged with a DUI case in California, the evidence from the prosecutor usually includes field sobriety test performance. So, your DUI attorney must be on the front line to fight those results. The prosecutor usually relies upon the tests heavily. Therefore your lawyer may argue your submission and balance during the field sobriety test were affected by your clothing, nerves, flat feet, and fatigue.
Also, your DUI attorney may question the credibility of the FSTs. According to the NTSA, the field sobriety test can only predict 91% intoxication during the arrest. The percentage assumes:
- Test conditions are perfect.
- The police officers who performed the field sobriety test were skilled and experienced.
- Standard field sobriety tests are administered.
All these factors could change, making the FSTs unreliable. That’s why your attorney must challenge the credibility of the tests. Once the court discovers the FSTs are unreliable, they may dismiss the case or reduce the charge.
Hypoglycemia or Diabetes, Protein Diet Exaggerated the BAC Level
A well-competent DUI attorney who understands the impacts of hypoglycemia and diabetes could form a valid defense in a 3rd DUI offense. Usually, our bodies are fueled by carbohydrates, and when you are under situations like diabetes, fasting, or you take high protein diets, your body breaks down stored fats for fuel. As the body burns the stored fats, the liver generates ketones.
The produced ketones tend to appear like isopropyl alcohol. Ketones can also be excreted in your breath. Note the testing gadgets cannot differentiate between ketones and alcoholic drinks. If this is the case, your BAC level could be above 0.08% when the arresting officers conduct their tests to detect alcohol intake.
For example, imagine the video footage showing you speeding or your vehicle barking suddenly. In this situation, the prosecutor will have more proof of intoxication. Driving patterns also involve hitting the set roadblocks at the checkpoints.
Again, you might also have had an accident because of impaired driving. Remember, excess levels of intoxication hinder your ability to react adequately to dangerous situations. Apart from the DUI penalties, you could also face separate charges for poor driving. When this is your case, the court imposes additional penalties.
Lack of Probable Cause to Stop
As per the US constitution, the law protects everyone from unlawful searches and seizures. For a DUI case, the arresting officer wants a valid reason to stop your vehicle. For example, when you are speeding, unlawful lane changes, and running traffic lights, the police have probable cause to justify your stop.
You can easily apply this defense if the officers do not have probable cause to stop you. Your defense lawyer can argue the stop is flawed and the gathered evidence is faulty. The lawyer can provide evidence from video cameras and recording devices to prove the officers did not have a reason to stop you. If this is your case, the evidence collected by the arresting officer will be dismissed, and you will beat the charges.
Bad Driving Does not Always Mean Intoxication
Remember, the arresting officers monitor your driving patterns to devise a basis for intoxication. The officers then claim you are driving your vehicle like a drunk driver. Primarily, these include allegations of overspeeding or swerving across lanes. Your competent DUI attorney could request the police to prove the ways you drive correctly and safely. The attorney will use the testimony to argue the driving patterns do not always imply impairment.
The Arresting Officers Never Observed the Right Process
The law requires the arresting officers to follow the correct procedure when making an arrest. Before making an arrest, the arresting officers want to read your Miranda rights. Miranda's rights include the right to remain silent, the right to a lawyer, and anything you say can be used against her in court.
However, the officers may need help reading the Miranda rights and questioning you to gather evidence. Therefore you have a valid defense if the officers violated the legal procedure to make an arrest. Your defense attorney may argue the evidence was obtained unlawfully, as the law protects you from police misconduct during an arrest. If the defense works for you, the court will nullify the evidence, and your charges will be dropped.
Will You Have a Permanent Record After a 3rd time DUI Offense Conviction?
You will indeed have a criminal record after a conviction for a third DUI offense. Luckily, the court can remove the criminal record through expungement. Whether your charge is a misdemeanor or felony, you qualify for the expungement process. The court grants you the petition when:
- You withdraw your guilty verdict and enter an innocent plea bargain.
- You were guilty after the court trial, but the court set aside your verdict.
According to California PC 1203.4, the expungement cannot overturn a revoked or suspended license. Usually, probation lasts longer than mandatory license suspension. But, when the court revokes your license, the expungement will not restore the driver’s license.
Expungement comes with several benefits, including eligibility to find a new job. Your new employer cannot use the criminal record to affect your employment. Therefore you want to work closely with your attorney to help you expunge your criminal records. Expungement comes with more benefits than eligibility to secure a new job.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney Near Me
A third-time DUI offense attracts more severe penalties than first and second-time DUI offenses. However, this does not mean you should be scared after the arrest. Like the other criminal cases, you stand a chance to fight the charge. You require the services of a well-skilled DUI attorney.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, our attorneys can navigate the legal process and help you fight the charges. We are ready to work with you if you seek legal help in Pasadena. Call us today at 626-689-2277 and speak with one of our legal experts.