A conviction for any DUI charge in California comes with penalties designed to seriously punish individuals caught drinking and driving. You can expect thousands of dollars in fines and fees, a license suspension, and the likelihood of spending time behind bars.
The specific penalties you receive for your DUI conviction will depend heavily on how the case is handled. Handled properly, you may be able to avoid a DUI conviction altogether. Even with a conviction, it is still possible to avoid jail for a DUI.
To stand the best chance of avoiding jail, it can be a good idea to have a skilled DUI lawyer representing you. Call (310) 862-0199 to speak with one of our representatives to schedule a free consultation with a DUI lawyer. As every DUI case hinges on its unique facts, our lawyers can help you understand the possible penalties you face, as well as what defenses may be possible.
Jail Time Can Be Sought for Any DUI Charge
While you are not guaranteed to spend time behind bars for a DUI charge, it possible to receive a jail sentence for any DUI charge. While California has harsher penalties for repeat offenders and those convicted of DUIs with “aggravating circumstances,” even first-time offenders may be sentenced to jail.
With no aggravating circumstances, the range of your possible jail sentence with a “simple” DUI will be determined by your DUI history. You face the following ranges for “simple” DUIs:
- Between two and 180 days in jail for a first DUI conviction
- Between four and 365 days in jail for a second DUI conviction
- Between 120 and 365 days in jail for a third DUI conviction
- Between 180 days and 365 in jail for a fourth DUI conviction.
You Can Spend More Time in Jail
The above ranges are not guaranteed. You can face sentence enhancements that will increase the length of time you spend behind bars. Factors that might increase your jail time include:
- DUI with a minor passenger
- DUI resulting in an injury
- Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15% or higher
- Refusing a chemical test after your arrest
These factors, if pursued by the prosecution, can result in substantial increases to the penalties you face. Depending on the circumstances, the prosecution may seek to have you sent to a state prison rather than a local jail.
Prison is a Harsher Penalty than Jail
For most misdemeanor DUI charges, time behind bars is usually served at a local or county jail. This differs from a state prison in a number of ways. It is typically is closer to your home, allowing your loved ones more opportunities to visit you. Your local jail is also going to be less restrictive of you, and you will typically be surrounded by fewer serious offenders.
Avoiding Jail for a DUI Charge
Your best bet for avoiding jail time for a DUI is by beating the charges. While the prosecutors in Los Angeles are incredibly focused on securing convictions for DUI offenses, it is possible to beat the charges. If you are able to beat the charges, you will avoid all of the penalties associated with a DUI conviction, including jail time.
However, even if you aren’t able to beat the DUI charges outright, there are still options available to you to avoid jail. For a first time DUI offense, you can agree to a 90 day extension to your license suspension instead of a two-day stint in jail. If you can arrange for an alternative charge, such as a “wet” reckless charge, you may be able to avoid time behind bars.
For some offenses, you may be able to seek alternatives to prison time. While the criminal statutes require mandatory jail time, judges are given the discretion to sentence individuals to alternatives that meet the criteria. You may be able arrange community service or time at an addiction treatment facility in lieu of time behind bars.
A DUI Lawyer Can Be Key to Avoiding Jail
While it is possible to avoid jail when facing a DUI charge, it is not always simple to arrange. Facing down prosecutors or convincing a judge to be lenient can be incredibly difficult. The difficulty in handling a DUI charge is why so many people decide to hire a DUI lawyer.
A DUI lawyer can help you build the strongest defense possible for your case. A strong defense, even before you enter a courtroom, can mean the difference between your freedom and time behind bars. Prosecutors are more likely to offer a plea bargain which does not include jail time if they have reason to believe they will have trouble proving the case in court. Your DUI lawyer can be a powerful advocate in negotiating favorable terms to a plea agreement.
When you’re ready to build the best defense possible for your DUI charge, call (310) 862-0199.