A 3rd offense DUI charge is a big deal, yet contrary to how things may seem at the moment, it does not mean that you are going to lose everything or get locked up for months on end. This article is going to be a plain spoken, real life examination of what really happens and what you can expect by way of jail in a third offense drunk driving case. The key here is that we're going to look at the reality of the situation; it's easy to get caught up in all kinds of "what if" questions, but the hard, cold truth is that unless the police really screwed things up, or you are otherwise being falsely accused of driving over the limit, you are very unlikely to take the case to trial and be found "not guilty." Similarly, those situations where the Judge just throws the case out of court are always the exception, and never the rule. If you really want to make things better, then taking an honest look at things is as good a place as any to start.
As a starting point for this article, we can bypass much of the stuff leading up to your arrest. As a Michigan DUI lawyer, I can detour endlessly (and have in many of my other DUI articles) into analysis of things like reasonable suspicion, probable cause, field sobriety tests and breath and/or blood test results. Since you already have been arrested for and charged with a 3rd DUI, then that's where we'll pick up. Of course, you can and should expect your lawyer to go over every shred of evidence that led to your charge to see if there is some way out of it. It is important to realize that while the bargain-priced or court appointed lawyer is not getting paid for careful attention to detail, just because a lawyer quotes a high fee doesn't mean he or she is doing anything more, or is otherwise worth it. If there's one bit of advice every honest lawyer would agree with, it's that you should really do your homework as a consumer. You should read a lot of what DUI lawyers have written (and if someone hasn't written much, then take that as a big clue), but you should also read between the lines, as well.
The truth here is a bit cold, and I'm sure most lawyers and marketing experts would simply try to "dodge" or talk around this very key question: Am I going to jail? Usually, when you ask that question of a lawyer, you'll get a whole bunch of babble about evidence and things like case law and blah blah blah, but never a straight answer. At the end of the day, the honest response is that if you're facing a 3rd offense DUI, there is a good chance that you're going to have to do some time. The law requires a minimum 30-day jail sentence in a 3rd offense case, yet it is possible, in some cases initially charged as a 3rd offense, to avoid even that. Of course, everyone wants his or her case to be "that" case, but certain facts, like where your case is pending, can be the deciding factor on whether or not that's even possible. It's easier to identify those cases where avoiding is unlikely than it is where it can be done, so here is a short list: