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Is a Third DUI a Felony in California?

It is not uncommon for people to be arrested for DUI in Orange County, and then to reoffend. Often, drunk driving is a habit and it can be repeated, especially when the individual is addicted to alcohol. Alcohol is a strong drug and alcoholism can be an equally strong addiction, especially when the individual is using alcohol to deal with deeper, unresolved emotional problems.

Though many repeat DUI offenders are alcoholics, that doesn’t mean they all are. Some multiple DUI offenders drink occasionally or on the weekends only, however, they’ve continued to make the same mistake of getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

Often, these individuals don’t understand how much alcohol it takes to raise their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal .08% limit. Due to this lack of understanding, it’s safer to avoid drinking and driving altogether, even if the person only consumes one drink.

If you were recently arrested for your third DUI offense, you may be wondering, “Is a third DUI a felony in California?” This is a reasonable question, and we’re going to explain the answer here. Read on for the answers you’re looking for!

Will You Face Felony Charges?

In California, most DUIs are misdemeanors. Generally, a first, second, or third DUI offense is a misdemeanor, unless there are aggravating circumstances, which we’ll explain later. So, if this is your third DUI and you didn’t injure anyone else, you would face the following penalties:

Common Penalties for a Third DUI (Misdemeanor):

  • Jail
  • Probation
  • Community Service
  • Ignition Interlock Device
  • Up to 3 years’ driver’s license suspension
  • Up to $2,800 in fines and court fees
  • DUI School for 18 months

Note: Even if you had a prior DUI offense reduced to “wet reckless” through a plea bargain, it would still count against you as a prior DUI. So, if you have one prior DUI and one wet reckless on your record, this would be considered your “third DUI” offense for sentencing and penalty purposes.

When Can It Be a Felony DUI?

Under certain circumstances, a third DUI can be prosecuted as a felony. If you injured or killed someone else and this was your third DUI offense, it would likely be prosecuted as a felony. In fact, it could be your first DUI and if you seriously injured someone else, you could face felony charges.

Looking for an Orange County DUI lawyer? Contact our office to schedule a free consultation with the DUI Queen!