On January 1, 2012 California Vehicle Code Section 3597 became law. This Vehicle Code Section reads as follows:
“3597. (a) Notwithstanding Sections 13202.5, 13203, and 13352, a court may order a 10-year revocation of the driver’s license of a person who has been convicted of three or more separate violations of Section 23152 or 23153, the last of which is punishable under Section 23546, 23550, 23550.5, or 23566. When making this order, the court shall consider all of the following:
(1) The person’s level of remorse for the acts.
(2) The period of time that has elapsed since the person’s previous convictions.
(3) The person’s blood-alcohol level at the time of the violation.
(4) The person’s participation in an alcohol treatment program.
(5) The person’s risk to traffic or public safety.
(6) The person’s ability to install a certified ignition interlock device in each motor vehicle that he or she owns or operates.
(b) Upon receipt of a duly certified abstract of the record of the court showing the court has ordered a 10-year revocation of a driver’s license pursuant to this section, the department shall revoke the person’s driver’s license for 10 years, except as provided in
10 Year Driver’s License Revocation Defense
As described above, this relatively new law gives judges the power to use their discretion to suspend the driving privilege of third-time DUI offenders for up to 10 years. This is an enormous suspension and as many people have learned the hard way, such a suspension can have disastrous personal consequences especially in a state like California where we all drive to get around and where public transportation is limited to a few metropolitan areas.
Six Factors To Be Considered by The Judge in Deciding on a Possible 10 Year Suspension
Vehicle code section 3597 (a) lays out six explicit factors that may be considered by a judge in order to determine if a license suspension of up to 10 years is appropriate.
Factor #1: The defendant’s level of remorse for the acts. This is an interesting factor as it calls for judges to make a subjective determination of the level of remorse a defendant has. This factor puts the burden on defense attorneys defending individuals charged with Three or more DUI’s to effectively convey to the court that their client is, in fact, contrite.
Factor #2: The period of time that has elapsed since the individual’s last conviction. This factor is relatively straight forward, and gets at the likelihood that someone being charged with a DUI has a serious drinking problem. If someone is on their third DUI prosecution within 10 years and the last DUI was only a year or two ago, this suggests to a judge that the defendant is either not learning or that their drinking problem is beyond their control. On the other hand, if you have made it 8 or 9 years since your past DUI, it is more possible that you are just unlucky, and consequently you are less likely to be given a 10 year license suspension.
Factor #3: The BAC at the time of the violation. This is yet another factor that directs judges to inquire as to the seriousness of the alcohol problem, and thus the likelihood of driving while intoxicated in the future if this individual is allowed to keep driving. The lower your blood alcohol level at the time of your violation, the less likely the judge will rip away your license for a decade. On the other hand, if your BAC is 0.20 or higher, you run a greater risk of long-term license suspension.
Factor #4: The person’s participation in an alcohol treatment program If you are facing a third DUI you will want to begin attending AA meetings immediately at a rate or at least one per week and maybe more. In addition, get signed up for a repeat offender alcohol class. Doing these things will indicate to the judge that your are taking steps to remedy your problem and hopefully lead the judge to be more merciful when determining the fate of your driver’s license.
Factor #5: The Person’s risk to traffic or public safety. Let’s face it, not all DUI’s are the same. If your DUI comes about by an officer catching you moving your car 2 feet while intoxicated (a technical DUI) or you are pulled over on the 5 freeway going 85 MPH while intoxicated the judge is going to view things very differently. If you were stopped while speeding or driving near pedestrians, you are more likely to get the massive 10 year suspension, than if you were on an old farm road, or simply moving your car a few feet.
Factor #6: The Person’s ability to get an ignition interlock device installed The state’s primary concern with repeat DUI offenders is that the pattern suggests they will continue to drive while intoxicated, even after being punished, and that this is likely to lead to an injury or death at some point. The courts have come to place a great deal of value on ignition interlock devices as a way to keep people from driving while intoxicated. Consequently, getting an ignition interlock device installed on your car is one of the very best ways to be able to keep your license after a third DUI within 10 years.
The Way Out!
Here is the good news. Vehicle Code Section 3597S(c) says:
(c) (1) Five years from the date of the last conviction of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153, a person whose license was revoked pursuant to subdivision (a) may apply to the department to have his or her privilege to operate a motor vehicle reinstated, subject to the condition that the person submits the “Verification of Installation” form described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (h) of Section 13386 and agrees to maintain the ignition interlock device as required under subdivision (g) of Section 23575. Notwithstanding Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 23700) or subdivision (f) of Section 23575, the ignition interlock device shall remain on the person’s motor vehicle for two years following the reinstatement of the person’s driving privilege pursuant to this section.