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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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License Suspensions for 3rd DUI in California – How It Works

By Spodek Law Group | February 12, 2023
(Last Updated On: March 19, 2023)

Last Updated on: 19th March 2023, 01:34 am

License Suspensions for Third-Time DUI Offenses in California

Getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that could lead to the loss of driving privileges, fines, and even jail time. In California, if you are convicted of DUI for the third time, the consequences are particularly severe. Here’s what you need to know:

Three-Year License Suspension for a Third-Time DUI Conviction

If you have been convicted of DUI or wet reckless twice within the past ten years and you are convicted for a third time, you will face a mandatory three-year driver’s license suspension. This suspension will be triggered either through a guilty plea or a guilty verdict in court, according to the California Vehicle Code 13352(a)(4). However, the court-triggered three-year DUI suspension can be avoided if the current conviction is for something less than DUI, such as wet reckless or exhibition of speed.

One-Year License Suspension Triggered by DMV Proceedings

In addition to the court conviction, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may also take administrative action against your driver’s license. If you get arrested for a third-time DUI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, an administrative per se (APS) hearing will be held to determine if the DMV has grounds to suspend your license. In case of a loss in the hearing, a one-year driver’s license suspension will take effect as per the California Vehicle Code 13353.3(b)(2).

However, the DMV may allow the defendant to continue driving during this year if they install an ignition interlock device (IID).

Avoiding the One or Three-Year DUI License Suspension

In a third DUI situation, avoiding the license suspension altogether can only be achieved if you (1) avoid a court conviction for the offense of DUI and (2) win your DMV hearing. However, even if your license does get suspended, the DMV may still allow you to continue driving if you install an ignition interlock device in your car.

Restricted Licenses Following the Three-Year DUI License Suspension

If the court imposes the three-year license suspension, you may obtain either an IID restricted license or a restricted license to continue driving. Here’s what you need to know:

IID Restricted License

An IID is a breathalyzer device that detects the driver’s blood alcohol content and prevents the car from starting if it exceeds a set limit. If the DMV allows it, you can continue driving anywhere during the license suspension by installing an ignition interlock device in your car. To obtain this license, you need to file an SR22 form, complete DUI school, and pay all necessary fees. The IID restricted license period lasts for two years for a third-time DUI.

Restricted License

A restricted license only allows you to drive to and from work and treatment, but you may obtain it as early as 18 months after the suspension. To qualify, you must have completed the initial 12 months of an 18-month or 30-month alcohol program, have an ignition interlock device installed in your car, and provide your SR-22 proof of insurance. The DMV will also charge a $125 fee to reissue your driver’s license.

In conclusion, getting arrested for a third-time DUI in California can have severe consequences. However, with the right legal representation and by complying with the DMV’s requirements, you may still be able to retain your driving privileges during and after the license suspension period.

Felony DUI in California: Understanding the Consequences

When is DUI a Felony in California?

Driving under the influence becomes a felony in California if:

  • It is a fourth DUI (or wet reckless) within ten years,
  • Someone was injured (besides the driver), or
  • The driver has a prior felony DUI.

Vehicle Code 23153 refers to DUI causing injury, making it illegal for anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol to drive a vehicle and cause bodily injury to someone other than themselves. To qualify as bodily injury, the victim must have sustained more than just minor fright or shock.

It’s important to note that causing bodily injury through negligence or illegal actions while under the influence can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case, the extent of any injuries, and the driver’s prior record. This type of crime is known as a “wobbler.”

Consequences of a Felony DUI Conviction

The punishment for a felony DUI conviction can be severe, including:

  • Up to three years in state prison,
  • Fines and fees,
  • Alcohol and drug education classes,
  • Driver’s license suspension or restrictions by the DMV.

Felony “sentence enhancements” can result in even more potential prison or jail time. For example, consider the case of Jeremy, who has never been arrested before. After drinking five beers at a casino, he drives home and hits another car that stops suddenly in front of him, injuring three people, including a 73-year-old victim. With felony DUI enhancements, Jeremy is facing ten years in state prison, including:

  • Three years for felony DUI causing injury,
  • A one-year enhancement for each additional victim (Vehicle Code 23558), and
  • A five-year enhancement for causing great bodily injury on a victim over 70 years old (Penal Code 12022.7(c)).

The Importance of a Strong Defense

Given the serious consequences of a felony DUI conviction, it’s crucial to mount a strong defense with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. They can review the evidence against you, identify any potential legal defenses, and work to protect your rights and freedom.

Third DUI Arrests in California: What You Need to Know

What Happens After a Third DUI Arrest in California?

If you have been arrested for a third DUI offense in California within a ten-year period, it is important to understand the legal consequences you may face. Many people think they know exactly what to expect when they go through DUI proceedings, but the reality is that every case is unique, and the penalties can vary depending on the circumstances.

After an arrest for a DUI or wet reckless driving, the arresting officer is required to forward a copy of the notice of suspension or revocation form and your driver’s license 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 it. It is important to note that you must request this hearing within ten days of receiving the suspension or revocation order, which you will likely receive at the time of your arrest. If the DMV review shows that there is no basis for the suspension or revocation, the action will be set aside, and your driving privileges will be reinstated.

Penalties for a Third DUI Offense in California

If you are convicted of a third DUI offense in California within a ten-year period, you may face severe penalties, including a designation as a habitual traffic offender for three years. The court may impose a fine of $390-$1,000, plus penalty assessments, as well as three to five years of informal probation. You will be required to complete a 30-month court-approved DUI education program, and your driver’s license will be suspended or revoked for three years, which may be convertible to a restricted license after 18 months. You may also face a county jail sentence of 120 days to one year.

Additional Penalties for a Third DUI Offense

In addition to the penalties imposed by the court, you may be required to attend AA programs, hospital and morgue programs, or other programs that impart the seriousness of a DUI. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device on any car you may drive after the period of license revocation has ended. In some cases, the court may impose a penalty enhancement, which is an increase of the existing DUI penalties.


If you are facing a third DUI offense in California, it is crucial to seek legal counsel to help you understand your rights and potential penalties. Each case is unique, and an experienced DUI defense attorney can help you navigate the legal system and fight for the best possible outcome.

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