Orange County 3rd DUI – What You Need to Know

3rd dui california

Each time you get caught and convicted of driving under the influence in Orange County, the penalties will go up.   Eventually, you can spend significant time in jail if you are arrested for an Orange County 3rd DUI.

When is a case a third time DUI? The law makes any new arrest subject to a look back of 10 years. A third time DUI exists if there are two convictions 10 years before the current arrest, and that conviction is for DUI or any alcohol related driving offense. Out-of-state DUI convictions count as a prior, usually. 

A 2nd DUI in Orange County is about 90 to 120 days in jail unless you get house arrest.  The penalties for a third DUI conviction are severe and can cause several months in jail without house arrest or SEC. An Orange County 3rd DUI will start at 180 days in jail go up depending on the courthouse (Westminster, Harbor, Fullerton, or Santa Ana), the prosecutor, and the facts of the case. 

What are the penalties for an Orange County 3rd DUI? 

Jail Time

The Orange District Attorneys’ Office will come out demanding north of 180 days in jail for a person with 2 prior DUIs and picks up a third one within the 10 years. You will be expected to spend time in jail. However, the question is, how many days in jail will you do? The answer to that depends on how you handle the situation and the work you put in.

If you have been arrested for an Orange County 3rd DUI, consider taking steps to avoid being locked up and start the process of mitigation.  Here are ways to stay out of jail if you get pulled over for a 3rd DUI in Orange County.

Consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled similar cases before to determine whether you qualify for a reduced sentence.

The exact jail time offered will depend on the facts. Note that the minimum is 120, but the prosecutor usually asks for 180 or more. The Orange County DA will usually want a DNA sample from any convictions and want you to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving program. The 180 days will increase if there are any sentencing enhancements:

an allegation that you were speeding while DUI;

any allegation that you were at or above double the legal limit of.16%, or .20;

children or minors in the vehicle;

an accident.

The prosecutors will typically add another 30 days for any of the above factors if any of your priors are particularly recent, or occurred while on probation. With especially bad accidents or high blood alcohol levels, often they will start at 210 days and offer higher from there.

What Happens to Your Driving Privileges After an Orange County 3rd DUI?

The laws for driving license suspension for a 3rd DUI in California are the same for every county. It is the same for Orange, Los Angles, San Diego. If you get arrested for driving under the influence, you could lose your license for 2 to 3 years with administrative suspension.

 The process to stop this is similar to your first 2 DUIs. You will have to go through the DMV process and get a hearing within 10 days to get the hearing from Orange Driver Safety. By doing this, you are putting a stay on your license suspension and administrative suspension.

In other words, the license suspension period for a 3rd DUI is the same as a 2nd DUI unless there is a refusal involved. You can get a restricted license and can get your license immediately after the administrative suspension with minimal downtime if you do things right.

Methods to Avoid Jail Time After an Orange County 3rd DUI  

First Steps to Do

Orange County Courts Judges and Prosecutors (Harbor, Santa Ana, Fullerton, Harbor, and Westminster) all take 3rd DUI seriously because of the dangers involved with drinking and driving.  No judge and prosecutor want to be the one who went easy on a person who went out and killed a person. 

This needs to be considered when deciding how to approach your situation. If you were arrested for driving under the influence for the 3rd time in Orange County, you need to consider the following. 

  • Need to enroll in the 18-month or SB-38 alcohol program immediately. 
  • Start attending AA (links below). You should be doing at 2/3 AAs a week. 
  • Consider getting treatment.
    • Either Residential or Intensive outpatient.  (DMS) 

By being proactive, you are opening the door for alternatives to jail time in Orange County. 

Alternative Sentencing for Orange County 3rd DUI 

There are other alternatives to prison sentences for an Orange County 3rd DUI.  If you are convicted of DUI, there are several ways to avoid jail time.

Get credit for an inpatient Substance abuse Program 

You can complete a substance abuse treatment program instead of going to jail. This includes attending classes and meetings regularly. However, there are risks to doing this in Orange County as the judge can choose not to give you credit for the substance abuse treatment program as you went in there on your own. However, this will be a bad policy, and judges have been considering this and subtracting it from the total jail time. For example, if you did 90 days with inpatient rehabilitation, the judge can setence you to 90 days and credit you for everything. 

 Earn the right to apply to House Arrest or Secured Electronic Confinement. 


If you’re facing jail again after three DUIs, then this may be an excellent choice for you. People who go through DUI courts don’t get any jail time. They pay fines instead.

Orange County Superior Court system runs a program called DUI court. The successful Drug Court diversion program combines treatment, probation, education, monitoring and goal progression and rewards, and electronic monitoring.

DUI Court is an option for staying out of jail on your 3rd Orange County DUI but requires a lot of work.

Once in DUI Court, you still have to attend  Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, counseling sessions, and random drug tests. Besides this, you will be assigned to the Orange County Court closest to your home. IE, if you live in Huntington Beach, then you will be assigned to Westminster Courthouse

The main difference between DUI court and regular probation is that DUI court requires more intensive supervision by the court. The court will monitor your progress and stay clean and sober. This means there will be sanctions if you fail a urine test or if you come late to class.  If you violate the terms of the DUI Court, the court could send you back to jail for your Orange County 3rd DUI. 

How much is the fine for a  3rd DUI in Orange County?

The fine for a 3rd DUI in Orange County is 390 plus penalty assessment, which comes to out to about 2200.00. However, because Orange County 3rd DUI involves jail time, it is advisable to roll this into credit, so you do not have to pay it. 

What happens after getting arrest for my third DUI in Orange County?

If you are arrested for a 3rd DUI in Orange County, you will be given a pink piece of paper which is your temporary license and a court appearance slip. It is a 50/50 chance whether you will be let out of court without bail. This is good and bad because you’ll be lucky if they let you out, but the bad part is that you have to address it later at court.  

How long does it take to get a 3rd Resolved in Court and DMV?

The process can take close to a year. There are a lot of moving parts. You are looking at floating your case as you get treatment at court. In addition, the first day in Orange County Court will be within 45 days of your arrest. However, the Orange County District’s office is not on time with filing cases, and this will cause delays of an additional 30-60 days.  

 As of the time of writing this article, the Orange Driver Safety Office is setting hearings out at least 4 months. This includes no kind of rescheduling. 

What happens if I am found guilty of a 3rd DUI in Orange County? 

If you are convicted for a 3rd DUI in Orange County, you are looking at north of 180 days in jail. With good time you are doing around 90 days in jail.  Your time will be doing your time at Theo Lacy, Orange County Jail, or The Farm. 

Is there anything I can do to avoid jail time for my 3rd DUI?

Yes. You will want to consider sobriety. Start treatments \and consider how alcohol has affected your life. By being proactive, you demonstrate how you are not a danger of society and are giving the courts a reason to take on a chance on you. 

Can I be charged with a Felony DUI even if it was not my fourth?

Yes, a 3rd can be charged as a felony if there was an accident and it resulted in serious bodily injury. In addition, if you killed someone on a third DUI, you will be charged with a Watson Murder. 

What if I have had a Wet Reckless previously?

A wetreckless counts as a prior DUI for future purposes. 

What if I have a prior dry reckless or my previous misdemeanor DUI was dismissed?

If you had a prior DUI that was dismissed or a dry reckless in the past, it will not be used against you before increasing the penalties for this case. 

Is it possible to Avoid Jail Time Entirely

Yes. It is possible to avoid jail time entirely on a 3rd DUI. However, it depends on how hard you want to address your drinking problem. 

Defenses to a 3rd DUI in Orange County. 

Another way to avoid a 3rd DUI in Orange County is by prevailing on the case’s merits. The defenses on a 3rd DUI in Orange County are the same as a 1st DUI unless you are on probation. If you are on probation, then that means there is zero-tolerance for alcohol.  Consult with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. The attorney will come up with defense strategies to handle your 3rd DUI in Orange County. This legal defense could include the no-driving defense or the rising blood alcohol defense. 

In summary, these are some key takeaways:

. If you are convicted of a 3rd DUI in Orange County, you will likely spend between three months and a year in jail.

A third DUI conviction will count as a prior offense for future DUIs. If you are charged with a 4th DUI in Orange County, then the 4th will be charged as a felony.  The sentencing range for a felony is 16months, two years, and 3 years. 

The best way to avoid jail time after a third DUI is to enroll in an alcohol treatment program and be proactive in seeking treatment. In addition to this, AA and seeking residential or outpatient treatment is advisable.  

There are many alternatives to jail time. Jail time is not certain. There are ways to stay out of jail. For example, there are options for house arrest, options for getting treatment and DUI Court. 

Your criminal lawyer can help you find the right alternative to jail time. 

If you go through with the court process, hire a criminal defense attorney who has experience handling DUI cases. It’s best to with someone who is familiar with the local courts. 


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