Third- or Fourth-Offense DUI

How Much Does It Cost and What Are the Penalties?

AVERAGE COST

$7,300

Costs for a third DUI typically range from $6,000 to $12,000.

AVERAGE DURATION

7.8months 7.8mo

The legal process for a third DUI typically ranges from 5 to 12 months.

  •  Costs for a third DUI typically range from $6,000 to $12,000.
  •  The legal process for a third DUI typically ranges from 5 to 12 months.

Driving under the influence becomes a very serious crime when the driver has two or more prior convictions: the likelihood of time behind bars goes up significantly.

We recently surveyed readers who had been convicted for two or more DUIs (or DWIs, OUIs, or whatever drunk driving acronym their states use) and were arrested for another. We wanted to learn about the cost, duration, and outcome of drunk driving cases for defendants who have multiple previous convictions. Read on to see what we found.

What's the Likely Outcome of a Third or Fourth DUI?

The overwhelming majority of survey respondents arrested for a third or fourth DUI were convicted of DUI or a lesser charge like reckless driving or "wet reckless." Specifically, 33% ended up with a felony DUI conviction, 56% were convicted of misdemeanor DUI, and 6% pleaded guilty (or "no contest") to a lesser charge.

The remaining 5% either didn’t end up facing criminal charges or saw their charges dismissed. (These readers had a reported blood alcohol content (BAC) between 0% and .07%, suggesting that the cases against them were weak.)

Compared to first-offense DUI, those arrested for DUI with two or more prior convictions were convicted of DUI 44% more often. (Almost 90% of those arrested for a third or fourth DUI were convicted of DUI, while just 62% of those arrested for a first-time DUI were convicted.)

Penalties for Third or Fourth DUI

Not only did the conviction rate go up for third or fourth DUI, but having two or more prior convictions when arrested for DUI greatly increased the chance of jail time: 50% of those arrested for third or fourth DUI were sentenced to time behind bars compared to just 9% for a first-time DUI. Even more pronounced was the requirement to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed: 50% of those arrested for third or fourth DUI were required to have an IID compared to just 18% of those arrested for their first DUI.

How Much Does a Third or Fourth DUI Cost?

Getting arrested for a third or fourth DUI is costly. The average cost to readers was $7,300. (Compare this to the average expenses for a first-time DUI, where defendants reported an average cost of $6,500.) The cost included court-ordered fines ($1,600), increased car insurance rates ($1,600), traffic school and alcohol education courses, ignition interlock devices, bail costs and attorneys’ fees and expenses.

For third or fourth DUI, the average amount spent on attorneys' fees and expenses was $2,700, but those who hired private DUI lawyers (rather than public defenders or court-appointed attorneys) reported spending an average of $4,000. (Compare this to the $2,300 average in attorneys' fees and expenses paid by those who hired private attorneys for a first-offense DUI.)

Though the total average cost above does not include lost income, twice as many defendants who were arrested for third or fourth DUI (50%) reported income loss than arrested for first offense DUI.

How Long Does a Third or Fourth DUI Take to Resolve?

Starting from the point of arrest, it took on average 7.8 months for our readers’ third- or fourth-offense DUI cases to be wrapped up. This was 2.5 months longer than first-offense cases, which took an average of just 5.3 months.

Talk to a Lawyer

While these survey results help you get an idea of what you’re facing if you’ve been arrested for third or fourth DUI, they won’t dictate what happens to you. The absence or presence of other aggravating circumstances, plus the perspectives of police and prosecutors, go a long way in determining results. To get a better idea of what you’re looking at, including possible penalties and defenses, consult an attorney with local experience in drunk driving cases.

About This Report

The data referenced above is from Martindale-Nolo Research's 2015 DUI study, which analyzed survey responses from readers who had been arrested for DUI and had researched hiring a lawyer. The names of any quoted readers have been changed to protect their privacy. 

If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, please consider taking our DUI survey. Your participation will help inform others facing DUI cases about their situation and options.

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