Third DUI Penalty in San Diego

Third DUI

General DUI Definition - If you are facing charges of driving under the influence based on California’s general DUI law, and you’ve already been convicted twice before of certain DUI-related offenses, then you should be aware of what to expect in this third DUI situation, and what the possible consequences are.

Under the general DUI rules, it is illegal to drive when (California Vehicle Code Section 23152):

1) You are under the influence of any alcoholic drink
2) You have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, by weight
3) You are driving a commercial vehicle and have a blood alcohol content of 0.04 percent or higher, by weight
4) You are addicted to drugs
5) You are under the influence of drugs
6) You are under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol

Presumption of Alcohol Content - If you are given a chemical test within 3 hours of driving, and that test shows that you have a blood alcohol content, by weight, of 0.08 percent or higher (0.04 percent for commercial drivers), it will be presumed that you had the same blood alcohol content, by weight, when you were driving the vehicle. You may rebut this presumption in court (CVC Section 23152).

Probation and Blood Alcohol Content - Those on probation for prior DUI convictions may not drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.01 percent or higher (CVC Section 23154).

Third DUI Rules - The penalties get more serious if it is not your first DUI-related conviction. Pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23546, you will be subject to these increased penalties if your current DUI offense under Section 23152 (above) meets the following criteria:

1) It happened within 10 years of two other separate offenses involving reckless driving under CVC
Section 23103, or DUIs under CVC Sections 23152 and 23153, or any combination of any of these
2) You were convicted of these two separate offenses
3) You were convicted of the current offense

Penalties For A Third DUI

The penalties for a third DUI include, but are not necessarily limited to (CVC Section 23546):

1) 120 days to 1 year in jail
2) $390 to $1000 in fines
3) License revocation for 3 years (CVC Section 13352[5])
- To reinstate your license you must show proof of financial responsibility and successful
completion of a DUI education program
- You may apply for a driving restriction, under certain circumstances
4) You will be designated as a “habitual traffic offender” for 3 years
5) If you refuse to submit to testing or do not complete the test, 10 days in jail will be added to
your punishment (CVC Section 23577)
6) An interlocking ignition device must be installed in your vehicle for a period of 2 years, after your
period of driver’s license suspension or revocation is over, as a condition to being able to legally
drive again (CVC Section 23700)
7) Additional possible penalties include, but are not limited to:
- If there was a passenger in the car who was under 14 years of age, 30 days of jail time will
be added to the punishment (CVC Section 23572)
- If your blood alcohol content was 0.15 percent or more, by weight, or you refused to take a test,
this may affect your sentencing and/or probation (CVC Section 23578)
- Speeding, under certain circumstance, while intoxicated as prohibited under Section 23152,
leads to 60 extra days in jail (CVC Section 23582)
- Your vehicle may be impounded (CVC Sections 23592, 23594)
- A 10-year revocation of your driver’s license may occur (CVC Section 23597)
8) Probation may also be assigned by the court, under certain conditions (CVC Section 23548)

Further DUIs will be subject to even greater penalties than those listed above (CVC Section 23550).


Below are some of the possible defenses to a third DUI charge:

1) Lack of probable cause for the initial traffic stop
2) Improper or mishandled procedures involving the testing equipment
3) Miranda rights violations
4) Validity of the arrest

Related offenses

“Reckless Driving” substitute charge – Sometimes an offender may be charged with reckless driving under CVC Sections 23103-23105 instead of being charged with a DUI under CVC Section 23152. This charge may carry lesser penalties.

“Public Offense” – If an offender has been convicted of a DUI under Sections 23152 or 23153, and this offense took place within 10 years of certain other offenses (such as felony DUIs or certain regulations in the California Penal Code), then they are guilty of a public offense and subject to penalties for it (CVC Section 23550.5).

Penal Code Sections 191.5 and 192.5 – These are laws dealing with vehicular manslaughter, where alcohol is involved.

California Vehicle Code Section 23153 – This law is similar to the general DUI Section 23152 that is discussed above, except that it adds the element of someone else getting hurt because of the offender's DUI. Under this law, it is illegal to drive under the conditions listed in the beginning of this article (except the one about being addicted to drugs) and “concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver” [CVC Section 23153(a)]. The penalties for a third DUI conviction under Section 23153 are higher than under Section 23152 (CVC Section 23566).

How We Can Help

Because the consequences of a third DUI conviction can be very serious and long-lasting, it is important that you contact an experienced attorney quickly if faced with a third DUI situation in the San Diego area. The attorneys at Ross Law Center have extensive experience in trying DUI cases, and offer expert assistance and effective representation. Call 858-805-5772 for your FREE consultation. 

Ross Law Center
750 B Street #3300
San Diego, CA 92101
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Ross Law Center
380 South Melrose Drive #363
Vista, CA 92081
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