All DUI charges are significant, but a third DUI charge is taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges alike. Prosecutors will generally take the position that if you are charged with a third DUI you need to go to jail for a significant period of time. This makes a hiring the right DUI attorney essential.
At our firm we have three former prosecutors that have all handled hundreds of third DUI cases as supervisors at the prosecutor's office. This inside experience gives us a unique perspective and advantage to effectively and zealously represent clients charged with third DUIs. Our experience coupled with our personal approach to these cases can make a huge difference in the end result of the case.
How much jail time am I looking at for a third DUI?
It depends on how you are charged. As with a first DUI or second DUI there are enhancements that can make a DUI charge more severe. For a third DUI, enhancements include if you are charged with a third DUI as a felony, if you blow an high breath alcohol sample above .15, and if there were minors in the car with you.
If you are charged with a felony third DUI, then you are facing a maximum possible sentence of five (5) years in prison. If you are charged with a felony third DUI, any minimum jail sentence varies depending on your criminal history.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor third DUI, you are facing a maximum possible sentence of one (1) year in jail. Depending on how you are charged with a misdemeanor third DUI there may be a minimum mandatory jail sentence. The minimum mandatory jail sentences for a third DUI starts at thirty (30) days in jail. However, this is the minimum potential jail sentence, meaning the sentence can be greater than (30) thirty days in jail.
A skilled DUI lawyer can minimize or negate jail time in a third DUI. Aside from all the other defenses to a DUI, there are numerous mitigating factors that a DUI lawyer can articulate to a Judge or prosecutor. For instance, how many years have passed between the prior DUI convictions? Have you undergone any treatment to address the root cause of the DUI? Have you been clean or sober since the last DUI conviction? Do you have any prior criminal convictions other than DUIs? Are you currently working and a productive member of society? These are just a few of an endless list mitigating factors that a DUI lawyer use to your advantage.
Can I be charged with a felony for a third DUI?
Possibly. In order to be charged with a felony for a third DUI you have two (2) prior convictions for DUI and one of these two (2) prior convictions occurred within the past ten (10) years. If these requirements are not met, then you cannot be charged with a felony for a third DUI. Even if you meet these requirements to be charged with a felony you may not be charged with a felony DUI. Prosecutors have some discretion as to when they can file a felony DUI or when they can keep the charge as a misdemeanor DUI.
A skilled DUI lawyer can help convince the prosecutor handling the case to file the DUI charges as misdemeanors.
How long will I lose my license for a third DUI?
A third DUI is similar to all other DUIs in that there is both an administrative(DMV) suspension and a criminal court suspension. The administrative(DMV) driver's license suspension is the same as a second DUI. The court ordered suspension from the criminal case depends on how a person is charged, such as if there are enhancements as discussed above. If there are not any enhancements, at a minimum there is six (6) month driver's license suspension. However, this is the minimum suspension and is very rare. Most prosecutors will look to suspend a driver's license for a third DUI much longer than six (6) months. If you are charged with a third DUI with enhancements, then the minimum driver's license suspension will be for ten (10) years. For a third DUI a prosecutor can suspend your driver's license permanently.
Can I get a hardship license for a third DUI?
For the administrative(DMV) suspension you are not eligible for a hardship license. This means unless your DUI lawyer successfully challenges the administrative(DMV) suspension your license will be suspended for six (6) to eighteen (18) months depending on the whether it is a breath or a refusal. You have nothing to lose by challenging the administrative(DMV) suspension. When facing a third DUI a DUI lawyer can use the administrative side to help learn about the case to fight the criminal side.
For a court ordered suspension of ten (10) years you may apply for a hardship license reinstatement hearing after two (2) years of no driving. There are very stringent requirements to even obtain this hardship license including remaining in a DUI supervisory program. There are no guarantees you will obtain a hardship license as you are only eligible for a hardship license reinstatement hearing. Additionally, if you do not strictly comply with DUI supervisory program you will lose the hardship license.
How can I fight a third DUI when I already have two prior DUI convictions?
Just because a person has one or two prior DUIs does not mean you cannot successfully fight and defend against a third DUI charge. At a trial, the best DUI defense lawyers should be able to keep a jury from hearing that you have two prior DUI convictions. The mere fact that you have two prior DUI convictions does not have any bearing on whether you are guilty of a DUI now. The two prior DUI convictions are substantially prejudicial if a jury were to hear about them. Our laws are designed so that a jury will determine whether a person is guilty of a crime based upon the current charges. The laws are not designed for a jury to make a determination of guilty based upon a person's past record of DUIs. If a jury heard a person has DUI convictions in the past, then they are more likely to find the person guilty of a DUI now. A jury should not be prejudiced at your trial by holding your past record of DUIs against you.
Officers too may be biased because before they make an arrest, they may know about a persons prior DUI arrests and convictions. The officer then may unfairly decide to arrest a person for DUI solely based upon their prior criminal record. This is why we have trials by a jury of our peers that are designed not to be prejudicial.
A third DUI is a very significant charge with life altering penalties. If you or a loved one are facing a third DUI, arm yourself with a skilled DUI lawyer. At Keller, Melchiorre and Walsh we can defend you in your time of your need. Call us now for a consultation of your case.