If you have been arrested for a third DUI in Santa Cruz, you need to be aware of the important recent changes in California's DUI law. You should also understand the more serious consequences of a third DUI and what you will face if you pick up a fourth offense DUI. 

The most significant difference with a third DUI is jail time. Jail time after a second DUI carries a minimum of 96 hours, or 4 days. With a 3rd DUI, the minimum sentence is 120 days, or almost 4 months in Santa Cruz County jail.  To have the best chance of avoiding another criminal conviction, contact Santa Cruz DUI defense attorney Phillip Crawford today. 

Third Offense DUI Laws Under Vehicle Code 23540:

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23546, there are increased penalties if someone is convicted of a DUI within 10 years of 2 separate DUIs.  A DUI with 2 prior arrests (that included convictions) in the past 10 years will be charged as a 3rd DUI in California. Multiple DUIs include the following DUI charges:

The penalties for a 3rd DUI are more severe than a second DUI. The penalties will be even greater when there is an injury accident or if there was a child in the car (child endangerment). However, most 2nd and 3rd  DUIs are still charged as misdemeanors and not as a felony. The penalties for a misdemeanor 3rd DUI may include: 

  • A minimum of 120 days in jail to a maximum of one year in jail, and
  • Fine of up to $1,000 plus assessments.

Serving 120 days is a long time to spend away from your family and job. A minimum of 120 days can cause a serious disruption and make it more difficult to get back on your feet after release. Call Santa Cruz Defense Attorney Phillip Crawford about ways to stay out of jail or reduce jail time after an arrest. 

What is the Lookback Period for a Prior DUI?

The court looks back ten years for prior offenses.

Under California Vehicle Code 23622, a “priorable” offense includes any DUI offense that occurred within 10 years of the 3rd offense. Prior DUIs also include drunk driving offenses in other states. 

Does a Wet-Reckless Count as a Prior DUI in California?

Some drivers who get arrested for a first-time DUI are able to negotiate a plea bargain, to plead guilty to reckless driving instead of a DUI charge. A wet reckless is a lesser offense that is treated like reckless driving. However, a wet reckless under California Vehicle Code 23103.5 is a “priorable” offense if the prior arrest occurred within 10 years of the new DUI arrest.

Driving Suspension & Restrictions After a 3rd DUI Conviction

There are further driving restrictions after a 3rd DUI. If you are convicted of a 3rd DUI offense, there is a 3-year license suspension period. However, the laws on restricted licenses have changed a lot in the past few years. Starting January 1, 2019, California expanded the IID program statewide for most drunk driving offenses.

Drivers convicted of a 3rd DUI can get an IID restricted license without having to wait for the end of their suspension. This requires installing a device in the car to test the driver's breath before starting and while operating the vehicle. With an IID restriction, 3rd DUI drivers can drive with a 2-year restricted license. 

However, the court still has discretion to disallow a restricted IID license if the court determines that the person would present a traffic safety or public safety risk. 

DUI School After a 3rd DUI

DUI school after a 2nd DUI is an 18-month program. However, DUI school after a 3rd DUI is a 30-month program. Program requirements include 78 hours of group counseling; 12 hours of alcohol and drug education; 120-300 hours of community service; and close and regular individual interviews.  

Probation After a 3rd DUI Conviction

The terms of probation are likely to be more restrictive after a 3rd DUI, and possibly longer. A judge is not likely to offer lighter probation restrictions after someone has already been subject to DUI probation twice before. Probation terms may include: 

  • No driving with any measurable alcohol (0.01% or higher) 
  • Submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS) during a traffic stop
  • Not commit any criminal offense
  • AA meetings

DUI Defenses for 3rd DUI Santa Cruz Drivers 

Santa Cruz attorney Phillip Crawford only handles DUI cases.  He understands all the most up-to-date changes in DUI laws and science. Representing individuals in Santa Cruz County Phillip Crawford is familiar with the local criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact Santa Cruz DUI Defense Attorney Phillip Crawford today at (831) 204-0773.  Or, schedule a time to speak with him here: Speak with Phillip Crawford