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DUI Third Offense: Penalties and Everything You Need to Know

If you have been charged with a DUI third offense in Washington, DC, you can face serious penalties, including jail time and harsh fines. Learn more here.

What to Expect When Facing a DUI Third Offense


The possible and mandatory penalties you can expect to be applied will depend on the number of prior OWIs, DWI, and DUIs that have been committed in the past 15 years. It is usually up to the judge to decide whether a person should be punished with jail time, fines, revocation of license, vehicle penalties, drug and alcohol education, or any combination of these. In any case, you will typically have to spend days in jail for second and third offenses.

If a person gets arrested and convicted for a third DUI, they could get more severe penalties than for previous DWI offenses. This means that one needs an experienced lawyer to help present their case in court to try to reduce the severity of the punishment meted out by the court.

When faced with a DUI charge, call a DUI attorney at Scrofano Law. Our firm is home to the top DC DUI lawyers with extensive experience representing defendants charged with repeat DUI/DWI offenses.

Third Offense DUI vs First/Second DUIs


The Attorney General’s office in DC prosecutes DWI charges very vigorously. Prosecutors always seek maximum penalties that may include serious jail time for persons convicted of third-offense DUIs. While DWI is deemed a misdemeanor in DC, the prosecutors believe that third-time offenders present a significant risk to the public. As such, they usually defend such cases with a lot of zeal and seek significant jail times for defendants that get convicted.

For third offense DUIs, punishment may range from higher fines, community service, longer ignition interlock periods, and intensive treatment programs that may come with a lengthier probation period.

To improve your chances in court, it is always advisable to call a legal representative with experience in third offense DWI who can help you mitigate the impact of legal penalties.

Effect on Insurance for Third-Offense DUI


It is mandatory for drivers to have some form of vehicle insurance in almost all fifty states. For people with prior DWI convictions, the regulations are usually stricter. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, DUI offenders in DC may need to provide their driver’s license in addition to proof of financial responsibility or the proof of insurability known as SR-22.


SR-22 Insurance Coverage

The Safety Responsibility Insurance (SR-22) is a special document that is sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles by an insurer verifying that the coverage on a given vehicle is legitimate. This is not an insurance policy but a document that asserts that the vehicle insurance policy is active.

If you are charged with a third DUI offense, the court will need you to provide proof of insurance if it is determined that you had your driving privileges revoked for reckless driving or a DUI charge. If you have been convicted of a DUI offense, you will need to get an SR-22 to get back your driving license. Once a defendant is convicted, they will have to provide the SR-22 for up to five years. If an insurance policy is not renewed on time, the DMV will receive a no coverage SR-26 document from the insurance company which will revoke the existing SR-22.

Get back your driving privileges and insurance by booking a consultation with the top DUI attorney in DC who will offer advice on what options are available.

Penalties for 3rd Offense DUI


Third-offense DUI convictions will typically attract a minimum sentence of 15 days in jail and a maximum sentence of up to a year in prison. As for fines, a DUI offense conviction will attract a minimum of $2,500 up to a maximum of $10,000.

With blood alcohol content  (BAC) equal to or higher than .20, an offender may be jailed for at least 20 days. A BAC of .25 or greater attracts a minimum jail time of 25 days while anything above .30 BAC will result in incarceration for no less than 30 days.

Even though the mandatory period of incarceration goes up by only five days between the third and second offense, the amount of jail time goes up significantly for third-time offenders. Prosecutors usually go hard on people with prior convictions and may ask for harsher penalties including jail penalties far beyond the mandatory minimum of 15 days in jail.

However, while the penalties become harsher between the second and third offense, Washington DC considers the third DUI offense a misdemeanor and one cannot be sentenced for more than a year unless there are other aggravating factors such as:

As such, it is critically important to get legal advice from an attorney when one is arrested for a felony DUI.

Collateral Consequences for Third Offense DUI

Academic and job prospects can be negatively impacted by prior DUI convictions as these will go into the offender’s criminal and driving record. Persons convicted of drunk driving will also find it difficult to find insurance coverage or, if they do, they will have to pay higher premiums on the special SR-22 insurance program.

License suspension is another penalty that a third DUI conviction may attract. A third drunk driving conviction almost always results in the suspension of the driver’s license. The courts will suspend all driving privileges in the District of Columbia for at least 180 days following a felony DUI conviction.

While it can be scary facing these consequences, it does not have to be this way all the time. Getting a criminal defense attorney to help you explore your options can improve the chances of getting better outcomes even if you are convicted.

How to Avoid Jail Time for 3rd DUI


Finding a criminal defense attorney with local experience might just be the most important thing to do when you are facing a 3rd DUI/DWI case. The law on DUIs is different in Washington D.C. as compared to the likes of Virginia or Maryland. All DWI cases are the domain of the District of Columbia Attorney General’s office.

Since DC handles the typical DWI/DUI felony very differently from other jurisdictions, it is critical to get a defense lawyer as soon as possible to avoid severe penalties on conviction. It is also important to create an attorney-client relationship with your lawyer as soon as possible so that they can get to preparing your criminal defense.

Even though a 3rd offense DWI/DUI is treated very seriously by the court, it is important to note that it is still a misdemeanor. While it can be difficult to convince the court to go easy on the defendant, it is not impossible. With an experienced law firm in DC representing you, the probability of serious jail time from a DWI/DUI conviction can be reduced.

Even though a conviction is sometimes inevitable, you stand a better chance if you have an attorney experienced in DUI/DWI felony charges representing you in court.

Alternatives to Jail Time for Felony DUI

While most prosecutors will recommend harsh sentences for a driver with prior DUI/DWI convictions, they can agree to a combination of probation and jail time in some instances. If a person is found guilty of a third DUI, a competent defense attorney can get them suspended sentences in combination with at least 15 days of jail time as opposed to a year of incarceration.

However, it is critical to remember that there will be requirements to be met before probation is granted. These may include the installation of an ignition interlock device on the offender’s car, vehicle impoundment, and community service. Once the offender completes the requirements, they can then serve out the suspended jail sentence. Note that if the defendant violates the conditions,  it may result in a revocation of probation which would mean they will have to serve the remainder of their sentence in prison.

Defensive Strategies for Third DUI Offense in Washington, DC


In Washington, DC, a third DUI offense carries severe consequences, but an experienced attorney can deploy several effective defenses. Questioning the accuracy of breathalyzer or blood tests is a common tactic, as these instruments can sometimes give false results due to improper calibration or handling.

Challenging the legality of the traffic stop itself is another strategy. If the initial stop lacked reasonable suspicion, any evidence gathered there could be deemed inadmissible.

Legal representation might also focus on procedural errors made during the arrest, such as failure to read Miranda rights, which can significantly impact the case. Moreover, an attorney could argue that external factors such as medical conditions or dietary peculiarities influenced the sobriety test results, casting doubt on the charges.

With these defenses and a comprehensive understanding of local DUI laws, an attorney in DC can provide crucial guidance and advocacy, aiming to mitigate penalties or potentially dismiss charges for a third DUI offense.

Third-offense DWI penalties in DC can be overwhelming even if they are only considered a misdemeanor. Offenders may have to pay a huge fine, have their vehicle confiscated, impounded, or installed with an ignition interlock device, have their license revoked for a period, and worry about serving jail time, all of which can be very stressful. If you have been charged with third-offense DWI, contact Joseph A. Scrofano, a top DUI lawyer in DC, for a consultation. With extensive experience and knowledge in DUI, our law firm is best placed to provide the best defense for you.


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