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In California, Three Strikes Can Now Mean Your Driver’s License
A new California law authorizes judges in third offense DUI cases to revoke a driver’s license for up to 10 years

A new California law authorizes judges in cases involving driving under the influence (DUI) to revoke a driver’s license for up to 10 years. The law went into effect on January 1, 2012.

If you have two previous DUI convictions within the last 10 years, the next conviction becomes a trigger for a ten-year suspension of your license.

The 10-year revocation could be in addition to a mandatory minimum four-month jail sentence. This really raises the stakes for drinking and driving defense cases.

AB 1601 Takes Effect

Assembly Bill 1601, as introduced by Assemblymen Jerry Hill, passed the legislature in 2010 and was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger. After a 15-month waiting period, it became effective in January of 2012.

The bill had originally included a provision that would have allowed a judge to impose a lifetime license revocation on offenders.

In order to obtain sufficient votes to pass the bill, Hill had to reduce the severity of the punishment. The San Mateo Times quoted him a saying, “You start asking for the moon and you negotiate. Politics is the art of compromise.”

That may be so. But it doesn’t mean that a lifetime license revocation is warranted. In a mobile culture such as California’s, built around the automobile, it’s a big step to take away someone’s keys for good.

Five-Year Reinstatement Possible

The new DUI California law does allow a person to apply for reinstatement with the DMV five years after their conviction, if they can demonstrate they have had no further DUI related convictions and they agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID).

An ignition interlock device requires that a driver blow a breath sample into the machine when they start the car and at periodic intervals while they are driving.

If the IID detects alcohol in the breath of the driver, it shuts down the engine and can cause the lights to flash and horn to honk.

If you are facing your third DUI, discuss with your attorney how you need to present your case in an attempt to avoid a 10-year revocation. Because the revocation is discretionary, the judge does not have to impose it, but you and your attorney will need to provide compelling reasons for the judge to choose a lesser sentence.

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