One of the most frightening parts of being arrested for DUI is being sent to jail. In most DUI arrests, the driver is held in jail for at least a little while. How long this lasts, and what it takes to get out, depends on the details of your case.
Note: This article is about being held in jail after your arrest—before you’ve had your trial. This is different than being convicted and sentenced to jail. You can learn about DUI sentences including jail time here.
Getting “Booked” for a DUI in Los Angeles
In almost all DUI cases, once you are arrested you will be taken to a police station or Sheriff’s station for processing. The only exception is if you were injured in a crash as part of the DUI. In that case you will be taken to a hospital instead. You will still have to face the legal process associated with DUI, but you will receive medical treatment first.
Once at the station the police will likely carry out several steps:
- Order you to take a chemical test (blood or breath for alcohol, blood or urine for suspected drug use). Refusing this test makes your case worse.
- Advise you of your rights.
- Question you.
- Take away your driver’s license, give you a temporary license, and advise you that your license will be suspended. You have only 10 days to contest this.
They may put you in a jail cell at any point during this process.
Be aware that a local jail is not a prison. It is a small facility that holds people only temporarily. Local jails are considered “nicer” than state prisons, because:
- Most of the individuals held there are in for minor charges. They are not hardened criminals.
- Local jails have a reputation for being safer.
- You are close to your family and community, not hours away.
But there’s nothing nice about spending time in jail. You have no privacy, few luxuries and the experience is uncomfortable and intimidating. The less time you spend there, the better.
Do I Get Out the Same Day, or the Next Day?
Most DUI cases do not require bail. You will be released when the police are done processing you. This can take longer or shorter depending on the circumstances.
You will be released the same day if police are able to process you quickly. Your chances are better during the daytime, because more personnel are on duty at the station. But often, police are in no hurry. Even when they have everything they need from you, it can take up to four hours to actually be released.
In many cases you will be held overnight and released the next day. This is most common if you are arrested during the evening or at night. Unfortunately, this is when most DUI arrests occur. The police are under no obligation to release you until morning.
Either way, you can be out within 24 hours of your arrest. If no bail is required, you will be released on your “own recognizance” or “OR.” This means you formally promise to return to court when scheduled. You are then free to go.
Making Bail for a California DUI
In some cases the jail staff will determine you cannot be released without bail. This will depend mainly on your criminal record. Bail for Los Angeles DUI cases starts at $5,000 and can be much more. (There is a complete DUI bail list here under Section 23152(a-d).)
Bail is not a fine. It’s money you give to the court as a guarantee that you will return. If you return the money is given back to you, even if you’re found guilty.
Most individuals have to borrow money to make bail. This is known as a bail bond. Usually you will have to pay a 10% fee on a bail bond. So if bail was set at $5,000, you will pay $500 to the bail bond company.
If you fail to appear in court, the courts keep the money. You will have to repay the bail bond company out of pocket.
Making bail sounds intimidating, but it’s easy. A family member can call a bail bond company and get it done in less than 30 minutes.
If you cannot make bail or if bail is denied to you, see What if I can’t make bail?
The first thing you should do when released from jail is talk to a DUI lawyer. You have only 10 days to fight for your driver’s license, and as little as a week to plan for your first court hearing. Let us put you in touch with a qualified, experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer. We’ll match you with a lawyer who offers a 100% FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right and get your consultation today.