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What Happens When You Get a 3rd DUI in California?

Posted by John Campanella | Feb 24, 2024 | 0 Comments

If you find yourself facing a third DUI conviction within a ten-year period in California, here's what you need to know:

  1. Probation: You'll be placed on probation, which means you'll need to follow certain rules and conditions set by the court.
  2. Jail Time: Typically, offenders who commit a third DUI in California face a mandatory jail sentence of at least 120 days to one year. This time is usually served in a jail located in the county where the offense occurred.
  3. Fines: You'll be required to pay fines ranging from $2,500 to $3,000.
  4. DUI School: You'll need to complete 30 months of DUI School.
  5. License Suspension: Your driver's license will be suspended for three years.

Avoiding Jail Time

While jail time is a common consequence for a third DUI, there are alternatives to consider:

  1. Live-In Rehab Program: Some individuals may be eligible for a live-in rehabilitation program instead of jail.
  2. House Arrest: In certain cases, house arrest may be an option.
  3. Work Furlough: If you're employed, work furlough could allow you to continue working while serving your sentence.

Additionally, the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) often permits people to resume driving immediately by using an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles.

Remember, it's crucial to consult with an attorney who specializes in DUI cases to understand your specific situation and explore the best options available to you. Legal advice tailored to your circumstances can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.


  1. Q: What happens if I get a third DUI in California?

    • A: If you're convicted of a third DUI within ten years, you'll face mandatory jail time of 120 days to one year. For instance, imagine John, who already has two DUI convictions. Unfortunately, he gets pulled over for drunk driving again. The court sentences him to 180 days in jail due to his third offense.
  2. Q: How much will I have to pay in fines for a third DUI?

    • A: The fines for a third DUI range from $390 to $1,000. Consider Lisa, who has two prior DUIs. Her third offense results in a fine of $800. She'll need to pay this amount along with other penalties.
  3. Q: Can I still drive after a third DUI?

    • A: Your driver's license will be suspended for two years. However, you may be eligible for a restricted license after one year. Imagine Mike, who loses his license for two years due to his third DUI. After 12 months, he can drive to work using a restricted license.
  4. Q: Is there an alternative to jail time for a third DUI?

    • A: Yes, some options include live-in rehab programs or house arrest. For example, Sarah, facing her third DUI, chooses a live-in rehab program instead of jail. This allows her to address her alcohol issues while avoiding incarceration.
  5. Q: How long will my third DUI stay on my record?

    • A: A third DUI conviction remains on your record for ten years. Imagine Mark, who regrets his third DUI. He knows that this conviction will affect his insurance rates and future job prospects for a decade.
  6. Q: Can I avoid jail time for a third DUI?

    • A: While jail time is common, there are alternatives. For instance, consider Alex, who opts for a work furlough program. He continues working during the day and spends nights in a facility instead of jail.
  7. Q: Will my insurance rates increase after a third DUI?

    • A: Yes, your insurance premiums will likely go up significantly. Imagine Emily, who faces her third DUI. Her insurance company raises her rates, making it more expensive to stay insured.
  8. Q: Can I challenge the DUI charges in court?

    • A: Yes, you have the right to defend yourself. Meet Jake, who hires an attorney to challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer test results. The court considers his defense.
  9. Q: What if my third DUI involves drugs, not alcohol?

    • A: The penalties are similar, whether it's alcohol or drugs. Lisa, caught driving under the influence of prescription medication, faces the same consequences as someone with alcohol-related DUIs.
  10. Q: How can I regain my driving privileges after a third DUI?

    • A: Completing DUI School and adhering to court orders is essential. Picture Mike, who successfully completes DUI School and installs an ignition interlock device (IID) to regain limited driving privileges.

About the Author

John Campanella

I have been representing people accused of drunk driving since I began practicing in 1995. I am active member of the National College of DUI Defense, a member of California DUI Lawyers Association, I am certified by the National Highway and Traffic Association for the administration of Field Sobriety Tests. I regularly attend DUI continuing education of the Bar, have tried over 35 Jury Trials, hundreds of pretrial motions and over 1000 DMV hearings all relating to DUI cases.


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