Third Time DUI Arrest

 

       A third DUI arrest is a very serious matter which requires the expertise of a law firm that has won such cases in the past. If you have been charged with a third DUI offense, The Hurwitz Law Group has the skill, resources and determination to achieve a positive outcome on your behalf. We understand the consternation you are experiencing and your fear of what lies ahead.  Let us assure you that we will relieve your stress and anxiety by drawing upon our legal knowledge and, at the same time, providing the emotional support you need to move forward. Before we discuss the strategy we will use to argue your case at both the DMV level and in court, we want you to know the penalties associated with a third DUI conviction.

 

Penalties for Third DUI

The list below is a compilation of the many DUI laws which have a bearing on a third misdemeanor DUI offense within a ten year period, but they do not include enhanced penalties for accidents with injuries, refusing to take a chemical test, or extremely high BAC levels.

  1. Four months to one year in jail,
  2. About $3000 in fines and penalties,
  3. Three to five years of summary (informal) probation,
  4. Installation of an IID in your vehicle for two years,
  5. Enrollment and completion of a 30 month DUI education program,
  6. License suspension or revocation for three years (but it may be possible to get a restricted license after 18 months or right away with an IID installed in your vehicle).

In addition to these state-wide, minimum penalties, there may be additional penalties ordered by the courts in the various California counties. Such additional penalties may include a MADD program, community service, the “HAM” (Hospital and Morgue) program, and/or a rehabilitation program.

Under some circumstances, a third DUI could result in a felony accompanied by more stringent penalties.  If you cause an accident involving injuries or death, the charge would be a felony.  Also, if your record includes a previous felony or three “wet reckless” or DUIs within the last ten years, the charge would be a felony.  In such cases, the far more severe penalties would include a $1000 to $5000 fine, a minimum of 180 days in jail, and a four to five year license suspension. Where injury or death is involved, the sentence could be as much as 16 months to 16 years in jail or state prison.  The number of people injured, other than yourself, will become a factor in determining jail time. Also, being under 21 years of age, driving with a child under age 14, excessive speeding, and having a BAC of over.15% can lead to an increase in jail time even if you are not charged with a felony.

Since jail time is the biggest concern of our clients, Hurwitz Law Group attorneys have become very effective in finding alternative sentences through plea bargaining. Plea bargaining is an art in which we take great pride. Our plea bargaining skills have been honed over many years of successful results for our DUI clients. We have observed the punishments for third DUIs ordered by judges in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties. Our plea bargaining strategy is tailored to reflect what we have learned are the usual penalties meted out by judges. Penalties vary, of course, by county and by individual judges. Needless to say, we do not accept any plea bargain offered by the district attorney until we have exhausted every possible argument for dismissal. Plea bargains favorable to our clients are usually not offered at all unless the district attorney lacks confidence that he or she can win a case in court.  All of our detailed preparation and presentation is designed to shake the district attorney’s confidence in his or her case against our client.

For third time DUI clients, we try to focus the attention during plea bargaining on treatment of apparent alcohol addiction and to steer the district attorney and judge away from jail time. As we have indicated earlier, most judges want to help an individual suffering from a serious disease, and they are willing to consider alternative penalties such as rehabilitation treatment in a custodial setting, or even home confinement using electronic monitoring. Although some counties do not allow house arrest for a third DUI, where it is an option, it can be very effective when coupled with a SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) device. The SCRAM device allows a convicted person to receive alcohol addiction treatment while going about a normal daily routine. It is an ankle bracelet that can detect alcohol in a person’s perspiration. At periodic intervals, it checks for the presence of alcohol and transmits the results to a monitoring system. If alcohol is detected, the court and the client’s attorney are notified.

Another type of alternative sentencing on a third DUI conviction is known as the 30/30 Program. In this case, the offender serves 30 days in jail and then either some form of community service or house arrest for the remainder of the 120 day sentence.  Such an arrangement allows a defendant who is on probation to participate in an alcohol treatment program. There is also the possibility that the judge will allow a third DUI offender to enter a custodial rehabilitation program based on the “People v. Darnell” case which allows for concentrated addiction treatment in a secure setting such as the Hazelden Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage or Ocean Hill Recovery in Dana Point. The hope is that such medical attention will lead to a path of sobriety to be continued after release. It is this type of alternative sentencing that the Hurwitz Law Group seeks for clients in need of addiction help. Not only is such medical help best for the addict, but it also serves the community by reducing drunk driving accidents. Everyone wins when an addict is treated compassionately with medical help rather than being sent to jail where no help is available.

Besides all of the above punishments, a third DUI conviction can place you in jeopardy of being labeled a Habitual Traffic Offender by the DMV for a three year period. This will mean administrative penalties in addition to your court ordered DUI penalties. Such penalties include a fine of $2000, six months in jail, and probation for three years. Your Hurwitz Law Group team will fight this charge as part of your DUI defense. During plea bargaining, we are usually able to get this charge removed from the DUI case you are facing. Removal of the Habitual Traffic Offender label is important because if it is not removed, you will be subject to extra penalties if you are charged with another traffic violation in the future.

In the following pages, we will describe the strategies that Hurwitz Law Group will use in seeking a just and positive settlement of your third DUI arrest at both your DMV hearing and your court case.

 

The Admin Per Se (DMV) Hearing

Since this is your third DUI, you are quite familiar with the important role played by the DMV in DUI cases.  Unless a Hurwitz Law Group attorney served as your lawyer, you may not know that we take the DMV Admin Per Se hearing very seriously.  We consider an in-person DMV hearing to be an opportunity to prevent your license from being suspended.  But it also is a chance for us to challenge the evidence that is in the hands of the hearing officer and, subsequently, will be in the hands of the district attorney when your case gets to court.  As you may recall, the DMV has a say only in the suspension of your driver’s license while the court has authority to dole out many types of punishment if you are found guilty of the DUI charge against you.  For a third DUI, the DMV has more options with regard to your punishment.  It has been charged not only with levying a larger fine, but also it is obligated to assign a 30-month DUI school.  The real concern for a third time DUI offender, though, is the aforementioned Habitual Traffic Offender designation.  Once this label has been pinned on a driver with three DUI convictions, the first violation carries a mandatory sentence of thirty days in jail and an additional fine of $1000.  The jail time is tacked onto other jail time you may have received as a third time DUI offender.  If you are stopped a second time as a Habitual Traffic Offender, the mandatory jail time increases to 180 days.

       We have outlined in great detail how Hurwitz Law Group prepares for an Admin Per Se hearing in the previous section of this website under the heading “Second DUI Arrest.”  We direct your attention to that website section for a full description of our commitment to winning at the DMV level of your case.  But if you do not wish to read that entire segment, we have summarized it in the following paragraphs.

It is critically important for you to bring your case to Hurwitz Law Group as soon after your arrest for a third DUI as possible.  We want to schedule your DMV hearing rather than have you do so because we, as your attorneys, are usually able to get a hearing date further out on the calendar than you would be able to get.  This is important because we want to have as much time as possible to plan the arguments we will use to persuade the hearing officer that you are not guilty of the third DUI with which you have been charged.

As you probably recall from your last Admin Per Se hearing, you sat down in an office at a DMV location at which a hearing officer arrived already having decided that you were guilty as charged.  He or she was ready to suspend your driver’s license but was reluctantly willing to hear whatever arguments you wished to present to show that you, in fact, were not guilty.  This is the point at which your Hurwitz Law Group attorney shifts into high gear and hits the hearing officer with a barrage of arguments and requests aimed at heading off your license suspension.

An extreme amount of preparation is required to win an Admin Per Se hearing.  Only about ten per cent of cases receive a win from the DMV, which is called a “Set Aside.”  Our careful preparation and attention to detail has helped us achieve success at this level despite the odds being against us.  Since detailed preparation takes time and will involve more than one meeting

with the hearing officer, the first action we take is to request that a “Stay” be put on your license suspension until your hearing is over.  This allows you to drive, unrestricted, while your hearing is in progress.

As we prepare your case for presentation to the hearing officer, we hold a series of interviews with you to ascertain the minutest details of your arrest.  Members of our team will search for errors in procedure, such as mistakes in test administration, committed by your arresting officer.  This is necessary because the information in the hands of the hearing officer is mainly that which was collected by the police officer, and it is considered to be accurate.  It includes both subjective observations of your response to field sobriety tests as well as chemical test results.  However, it does not take into account your activities before your arrest nor your medical history, both of which could have influenced the test results.

Since our overall purpose is to convince the hearing officer that you were not intoxicated when arrested, we call upon our Hurwitz Law Group team of experts to apply their scientific knowledge to determine if breath and blood test information is correct.  To do so, we subpoena maintenance records of the instruments used, and laboratory notes from the blood technician who did your analysis.  We have been successful in convincing hearing officers that BAC levels were incorrect because alcohol had not been fully absorbed into the bloodstream prior to administering the blood test and/or that alcohol was still in our client’s mouth when the tests were performed.  (For a fuller discussion, see “Second DUI Arrest.”)

Another aspect of our effort to gather as much evidence as possible prior to the Admin Per Se Hearing is a visit to the site where your arrest took place.  We want to see the conditions under which your sobriety tests were given.  Bumps in the road, gravel on the shoulder, and slope of the area could affect the observations made by your arresting officer.  Even though most police officers do the tests according to proper procedures, we never cease to be amazed by the carelessness of some officers during an arrest.

Police reports are used to establish “probable cause” in a DUI arrest.  Because they contain a wealth of information, we at Hurwitz Law Group spend a great deal of time studying the content of these reports in order to find remarks or inconsistencies that can be challenged.  When we find contradictory or misleading comments in the police reports, we subpoena the arresting officer to question him or her regarding such statements.  We also request dash-cam video to compare it with statements made by the police officer.

What we want our clients to understand is that there is no limit to the extent we at Hurwitz Law Group will go to win a case at the Admin Per Se hearing.  By preparing meticulously for the DMV hearing we will have a better chance of winning when we get to your criminal trial.  Everything we did to prepare for the DMV hearing will be drawn upon as we get ready for your court appearance.

 

Protecting Your Driving Privileges after a Third DUI:  The Court Case

At the beginning of this section, we listed the penalties associated with a third DUI.  Now we are going to describe how Hurwitz Law Group attorneys address the charges against you in an effort to get your case dismissed or to minimize the penalties you face.  As you will see, the preparation we did for your Admin Per Se hearing was only the beginning of an extensive undertaking to find a solution that will be acceptable to the district attorney and the judge overseeing your case.  We begin your court case knowing that no matter what the district attorney has in his or her file on you, we are confident that we know the details of your case better than he or she possibly could.  But we don’t take anything for granted.  So we begin preparation for your trial where we left off at the DMV hearing.

       For a complete explanation of the numerous stages of the preparation of your court case, please read the detailed account we presented in the section titled, “Second DUI Arrest.”  Here we will summarize those steps and, in addition, describe the extra steps we take to beat your third DUI charges.

More than in any of your previous DUI cases, a positive outcome for this third offense rests with the cordial relationships Hurwitz Law Group has established over many years with district attorneys and judges in the many courtrooms of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties.  Our success also depends greatly on the team of professionals we mobilize to sift through and analyze the evidence we will use to show that you were not drunk when you were arrested for a third time DUI.  We will spare no effort in our fight to protect your driving privileges.

The district attorney assigned to your case will be armed to the hilt with all sorts of information about you, including your driving history, field sobriety test results, chemical and breath test data, police reports, and other evidence designed to keep you off the road and in jail for as long as possible.  So we have a formidable task ahead of us to counter all of their evidence that they believe will convict you.

The underlying assumption held by district attorneys in third DUI arrests is that you are an alcohol addict.  They have little patience with those thought to be alcoholics.  They want to throw the book at you and put you in jail for the maximum amount of time.  These officials have little interest in recognizing that alcohol addiction is a disease which is treatable under the right conditions.  So if we cannot convince the district attorney or the judge that you were not intoxicated when arrested, we will try to substitute treatment for jail time.  Most judges do understand that alcoholism is a disease and are willing, as a condition of probation, to allow a convicted third time DUI individual to seek treatment in a court approved custodial setting.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves by declaring that you are, in fact, an alcoholic.  We are going to do everything possible to discredit your arrest and accompanying charges.

The one document that would help your case appreciably would be a “set side” decision by the DMV hearing officer.  That is why we work so hard at the Admin Per Se hearing to prove that you were not drunk when you were arrested.  Even though the DMV hearing and your court case are entirely separate, a “set aside” carries considerable weight when presented to the judge.  But even without the “set side,” we can still get your third DUI charges thrown out.

At the outset of our preparation for your criminal trial, we will devote attention to making sure that we have each and every document that relates to the charges against you.  We accomplish this by making requests, in writing, for all evidence pertaining to your arrest from the following:  the district attorney, the arresting officer, and the DMV.  Even though there may be some duplication of evidence already in our hands, we are hoping to acquire pieces of evidence that we do not already have.  From the district attorney, we may turn up still or video pictures of the police officer administering the field sobriety tests.  Such pictures might reveal, for example, that the police officer gave the “walk and turn” test on uneven ground.   By asking the police officer for documents, we might receive supplementary reports and notes that contradict the statement that are made when we subpoena the officer to appear in court.  The DMV file we seek will show the thinking of the hearing officer as he or she determined whether to grant a “set aside.”

If, after receiving the documents from these three sources, we still believe that there is more information to be had, we will file a “discovery” motion with the judge seeking what else might be available which pertains to your case.  It may also be in our interests to file a motion to get a sample of the blood that was used to determine your BAC level.  We then send the sample to an independent laboratory for analysis.  Along with the request for a blood sample, we also ask for documents showing how your blood has been stored as it moved from one location to the next.  If we find that the blood was not stored according to protocol, or If we find a measurable difference between the police laboratory and our independent results, we may ask the judge, through a motion, to have the case against you dismissed.  In the event dismissal is not granted, we will try to have certain evidence suppressed.

In our quest to leave no stone unturned in our search for evidence to defend you, we will take one more legal step.  If we suspect that you may have been treated improperly by the officer who arrested you, we will file what is known as a “Pitchess” motion.  This is a request of the judge to allow your Hurwitz Law Group attorney to see the personnel file of the officer who arrested you.  If you (and we) suspect that the officer acted improperly during your arrest by lying in his or her police report, coercing you to say something you did not want to say, or maybe racially profiling you, we will request the file to see if such behavior has occurred often in the officer’s past.  Such a request must include specific reasons why you suspect misconduct and how it will be used to support your case.  If it turns out that the officer has a history of doing what you claim, such information may lead to our filing a motion to dismiss your case.  No matter what the outcome of the “Pitchess,” motion, either it works to get your charges dropped or, if not, no harm has been done to your case.

A great deal of the fuss we make over securing all possible evidence is to send a message to the district attorney and the court that we are taking your case very seriously.  We want to present the image that we can win your case “hands down.”  To strengthen your case even further we will compile a file to show that you are an upstanding citizen in your community.  To do this, we will ask you to put together a folder of all your accolades, certificates, recommendation letters, military papers (if germane), and other pertinent information.  Last, we request letters pertaining to your good character from family, friends, clergy and co-workers.  This type of correspondence shows that even though you have let yourself down, we  you are still a positive asset to your community in the eyes of those with whom you relate on a daily basis.

 

 

Costs of a Third DUI Conviction

The costs of a third DUI conviction are enormous and are not measured solely in dollars. A conviction will affect both your personal and professional life, especially if you hold a professional license or certificate. The financial impact of a third DUI is staggering:  Initial fines are enormous; required alcohol education tuition is sizable; rehabilitation charges are considerable; insurance premiums are increased, trigger SR22 requirements, and last for years; university admission and financial aid decisions may be affected; green card and visa applications may be denied; and credit reports may be negatively affected.  If an accident is involved, the drunk driver causing the accident will have long-lasting financial after-effects. There will be legal fees, repair costs, and liability consequences.

You already know well the emotional costs of a DUI.  As we noted at the beginning of our discussion of a third DUI arrest, the legal team at Hurwitz Law Group is aware of the tremendous emotional burden you are experiencing.  There are so many emotions at play immediately after your being charged that your mental state, most likely, has become a blur.  Our goal is to help you through this phase and to get you back to a normal life.  We will not let you become overwhelmed.  Each step of the legal proceedings will be carefully explained in a calm and positive manner.  Further, we will do most of the court appearances on your behalf so as not to expose you to situations which will intensify your emotional anguish.  We want you to trust us to handle all aspects of your case, including keeping you focused on one step at a time.

It is not possible for us to provide an exact figure for the financial costs of a third DUI because each case is unique. In addition to the costs associated with the penalties mentioned at the beginning of this section, there are numerous other costs linked to a third DUI conviction. If you are charged with a felony, due to reasons explained earlier, such as an injury-causing accident, you would have to remain in jail until you could post bail. This is a large expense which, for example, in Los Angeles County, starts at $5000 and will increase depending on the severity of the accident you caused. Another major expense is your attorney’s fee. According to a recent study done by Lawyers.com, the cost of a private attorney for a third DUI arrest starts at about $4000 and may increase depending on the facts of the case. One of the most important jobs of your Hurwitz Law Group attorney is to find ways to reduce the costs of your arrest. We take this matter very seriously and have been successful at getting costs reduced for almost all of our clients.  Our having a good reputation as a respected and responsible law firm works to influence positively the financial aspects of your case.

Despite the seriousness of a third DUI arrest, it is not the end of the world. We take pride in the success we have had in guiding our clients through the personal changes necessary to reestablish a constructive life. Hurwitz Law Group is committed to working tirelessly and persuasively to ensure that your future remains intact. That is our promise to you.

 

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