Presently, all California DUI sentences include jail or prison time, even for first-time DUI drivers and even if no one was hurt. However, the amount of jail can vary substantially, and in some cases your lawyer could even get your jail sentence waived. Here is our complete guide to California DUI jail sentences.
First Offense—no lawyer or bargain
If this is your first DUI, or your previous DUI was more than 10 years ago, you will be sentenced to:
- Minimum 48 hours in jail
- Up to 6 months in jail
This is time served at a local jail facility, not a state prison. You will typically serve it in the same city and county where you were arrested, although your lawyer can petition the judge to let you serve it in a more convenient location. This includes “pay to stay” programs where you serve your time in a safer, quieter jail facility that handles few or no dangerous criminals.
You may also be able to replace your 48 hours of strict jail time with a 5-day work release.
First Offense—with a good lawyer or a plea bargain
Even if you are convicted of first-offense DUI, you may be able to avoid jail time if either:
- You have a good lawyer
- You work out an arrangement with the prosecutor (a plea bargain)
Under these circumstances, the judge may agree to waive your jail time if you complete your probation successfully. In other words, if you live up to all the conditions of your 3-5 year DUI probation, you’ll never have to go to jail. If you violate probation, however, you will have to serve the original jail time plus extra penalties. It is possible, but less common, to work out these arrangements without a lawyer.
You will face:
- Minimum 96 hours in jail
- Up to 1 year in jail
You will face:
- Mandatory 6 months to 1 year in jail
Fourth Offense (or more)
If this is your fourth DUI offense ever—not just in the last 10 years—you will face a sentence in a state prison, not a local jail. This will include:
- Minimum 16 months in prison
- Up to 3 years in prison
DUI Causing Injury or Death
If your DUI hurt someone or even caused a death, you should review our felony DUI resources. Your DUI could be charged as a felony and will often carry substantial prison sentences. In many cases, there is an extra year of prison for each person who suffered serious injuries. And if someone died, you could even face a DUI murder charge with can carry life in prison.
All of these penalties are the same whether the DUI involved alcohol, drugs or both.
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.