Most of the time, when someone is arrested for DUI in Los Angeles they are released from jail within 24 hours. They are then free until and unless they are sentenced to jail at their trial. But sometimes, the person is not released. This happens for two reasons:
- They could not make bail
- They were denied bail by the judge
If this is happening to you or someone you love, you need to know how long they will be held and what you can do to get them out. Fortunately, you have options.
Understanding Bail in a DUI Case
“Bail” is just a legal term for money you put up to guarantee you won’t run from the law. When you pay bail, you are released from jail until your trial. As long as you appear at all your scheduled court appointments, you get the money back after the trial (even if you are found guilty). If you fail to appear, you lose the money.
Most people don’t have enough money to post bail on their own. Usually they go to a bail bond company, who loans them the money. But a bail bondsman charges a fee, normally 10% of the total amount. This is where the trouble comes in. Many families find that they cannot afford even the 10% fee to get a bail bond. If this is your situation, you are not alone—many DUI defendants and their families have this problem.
Bail is harder for DUI defendants because the bail costs are so high. In Los Angeles, the minimum recommended bail for DUI is $5,000 and can go to $25,000 or more. A 10% fee on a $25,000 bail bond is $2,500. That not an easy bill for most people to pay.
That leaves hundreds of defendants every year unable to pay bail. Others are denied bail completely.
Being Denied Bail
Being denied bail means the courts refuse to let you out on bail at any price. This is rare in DUI cases. When it happens, it’s usually because of other charges on your criminal record, a violent history, or because there’s reason to believe that you might try to flee. But the decision to deny you bail is not final—it can be challenged.
How Long Do I Stay in Jail If I Can’t Make Bail?
If you can’t afford bail in a DUI case, or if you were denied bail, you stay in jail until your trial. California law requires that the courts move as quickly as possible, so you don’t stay in jail longer than necessary. But you could still be in jail for a month or more.
The total amount of time in jail depends on:
- Your arraignment. You arraignment is a hearing where you enter a plea and get a trial date. If you cannot make bail, the courts have to hold your arraignment within 48 hours of your arrest. The 48 hours does not count Sundays or holidays. So you could wait 2-4 days total.
- Your trial date. Normally the judge can set a trial date as far out as 45 days after the arraignment. If you are in jail because you couldn’t make bail, however (or if you were denied bail), they have to set the trial within 30 days of the arraignment.
So, in theory, you won’t be in jail longer than 34 days before your trial. In reality, it can be longer. This is for two reasons.
First, you might object to the shorter 30-day wait before trial. Why? Because your lawyer might need time to prepare your case. If so, the trial date can be extended by an additional 10 days. The judge will only do this if your lawyer requests it.
Second, courts can have delays. The law only requires that your trial date is set within 30 days. But it can be rescheduled. This usually happens only if one or both lawyers are unable to make the trial date. In some cases, a DUI defendant will spend several months in jail before trial.
If this happens to you, you may be able to get out sooner if you request a bail hearing.
Challenging Bail with a Bail Hearing
A bail hearing is a hearing before a judge where you challenge the bail decision. You might request a bail hearing for several reasons:
- If bail is too high for you to pay, you can ask the judge to lower the amount.
- If you were denied bail, you can ask the judge to reconsider.
- You might ask the judge to do away with bail altogether, and let you out “on your own recognizance.” This means you give your word to return to court and stand trial.
Even at a bail hearing, a judge can refuse your request. You have to present compelling grounds for releasing you. Trained DUI lawyers know which arguments are most likely to work at a bail hearing. They also know how to request the hearing in the first place. You will not be given a bail hearing unless you formally request it.
Challenging Your Bail
Waiting in jail for a trial is not easy. It’s disheartening, it means you cannot work, and it makes it hard to communicate with your lawyer and plan your defense. If someone you love is being held for a DUI charge, we recommend taking every legal step available to get them out.
The best way to do that is by talking to an experienced DUI lawyer. We can match you with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer who will give you an in depth case evaluation—completely free of charge. They can help you request a bail hearing, challenge the bail decisions and potentially get your loved one free again. They can also help you fight the DUI charge.
Don’t waste a single day. Fill out the form to the right and get your FREE consultation today.