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Fourth-Time Driving Under the Influence

If you have suffered three prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or any “wet reckless” convictions in the past ten-year period and are arrested for a fourth driving under the influence case within that same ten-year window, the law states that the prosecution may elect to file that fourth driving under the influence case as a felony. However, prior driving under the influence arrests that did not lead to criminal convictions will not count as “priorable” offenses against you for purposes of establishing this crime.

Fourth-time driving under the influence cases are extremely serious, especially when filed as felonies. The maximum possible custody sentence for a fourth time driving under the influence conviction as a felony is three years in the county jail, pursuant to Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (h). If the prosecution elects to file the fourth driving under the influence case as a misdemeanor and you are convicted, you will be sentenced to a minimum of 180 days in county jail, but not to exceed one year in county jail.

In these instances, the Department of Motor Vehicles will typically “revoke” a person’s driver’s license for a period of four years upon a fourth conviction for driving under the influence within a ten-year time period. Make no mistake about it – a license “revocation” is much more serious than the license “suspension” you might have experienced in a prior driving under the influence situation. With a revocation, you will lose your driver’s license altogether for four years! And unlike previous driving under the influence cases, you will not be eligible to obtain a “restricted” license to get to and from your place of employment or anywhere else you need to go in life. In some instances, a fourth-time driving under the influence offender may be deemed a “habitual traffic offender” in which case, an additional period of suspension may be imposed.

Almost all fourth-time driving under the influence cases will be resolved in a manner that includes some type of addiction-related treatment and/or therapy. In many cases, fourth-time driving under the influence offenders have accepted that they have an issue with alcohol and are ready and willing to seek out and follow through with treatment. However, not everyone in the same situation may be so readily agreeable, for a variety of reasons. Whatever the situation is, it is important to note that the court can order treatment anyway. When a person facing charges such as these takes the initiative to voluntarily enroll in a treatment program prior to a judge ordering them to do so, it shows courage, strength and demonstrates a willingness to make positive changes. It also gives a person more control over the type of treatment that they believe could be the most beneficial at addressing their individual issues.

If you have already been charged or anticipate being charged with a fourth-time DUI in the Murrieta area, contact your Murrieta DUI lawyer at the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC for your free, confidential case consultation now. Your future and your freedom deserve to be taken seriously by an experienced attorney who is committed to quality representation and compassionate advocacy, every step of the way.