One of the most frightening parts of being arrested for DUI is being sent to jail. In most DUI arrests, they hold the driver 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 differs from 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, the police will take you 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, they will take you 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 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 on your rights.
- Question you about the incident.
- Take away your driver’s license, give you a temporary license, and advise you that the DMV will suspend your license under the administrative per se program. You have only 10 days to contest this.
Jail Is Not the Same As Prison
After being arrested, the officer 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. Plus, the longer you stay, the less time you have to get a DUI attorney before your arraignment.
Do I Get Out the Same Day or the Next Day?
You will be released the same day if the police can process your charges 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, they will release you 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 under §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, they give the money 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.
What If I Don’t Show Up for Court?
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.
A lawyer can help you if you cannot make bail or if bail is denied to you.
If I Have a Warrant for Another Crime, What Happens?
That will depend entirely on the warrant. The warrant with the stricter penalties will decide the matter. If you’re accused of other crimes that are more dangerous, they could hold you for longer because of that, or if the police think you’re a flight risk.
A flight risk is someone who will not come back to court as promised or because of a bail payment. They will try to leave the area or even the country. This is practically an admission of guilt. Instead, face the court with a lawyer and fight back.
The two cases will probably be tried separately, so you can go to a criminal lawyer and a Los Angeles DUI lawyer for their advice and assistance. Most criminal lawyers also do DUI cases, but they may not specialize.
What Else Could Keep Me in Jail?
The police will not let you out before you’re sober. If you were intoxicated at the time of your arrest, you will have to wait until your system is clear of alcohol. This is why county jails are sometimes called “drunk tanks”.
Also, if you act violently toward the police or fail to comply with their orders, that will make them unfavorable to you and they could hold you for longer, especially if what you do meets the level of a crime. Each additional charge requires more processing and more time spent in jail.
What Should I Do After I’m Released from Jail?
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.