California offers a variety of sentencing alternatives for DUI offenders. Some of these alternatives are meant to rehabilitate the offender and decrease the chance of another DUI in the future; others are simply meant to help keep offenders out of jail. Two of the most common sentencing alternatives in Los Angeles are a work furlough and a work release.
These two terms refer to very different programs. If you already have a job before you are convicted of DUI, a work furlough is the better sentencing alternative. We’ll discuss how a work furlough works, what makes it different than a work release, and how you can get a furlough in your case.
Definition of a Work Furlough in California
Every DUI conviction carries the possibility of jail time, even a first offense. But the benefit of jail time is questionable. In criminal cases, jail time is supposed to punish the offender, force them to reflect on their ways, and most importantly, separate a dangerous individual from society. But most drivers who are convicted of DUI are not dangerous individuals. Many are otherwise law abiding citizens who have no desire to hurt anyone. That makes jail a poor fit.
Fortunately, California has developed a variety of alternatives to jail. These alternatives are aimed primarily at nonviolent individuals. Most are designed to help you prepare for life as a productive citizen following your sentence—and many of them involve working a job.
Traditionally, work programs for prisoners consist of hard manual labor. A traditional “work release” involves being assigned to very difficult physical tasks such as excavation. It can be better than jail, but it is not pleasant.
The work furlough presents an alternative to that. Under a work furlough, you are allowed to work full 8-hour days at an existing job that you already have. Each day of work counts as one day of your jail sentence. The job can be anything from working at a restaurant to working as a tax accountant. As long as you have a job, there is a chance to do a work furlough at that job.
How a DUI Work Furlough Works in California
Specifics of the work furlough depend on the local jurisdiction that administers it. In general, you will not be completely free to come and go as you please. You will work your job during the day and return to a dormitory facility at night. The dormitory facility houses other work furlough participants. You will have access to meals, showers and a bed. Generally you will have to pay a fee to stay at the dormitory, even though it’s mandatory. If you cannot afford the fee you may be able to pay a discounted rate.
You will also need to provide your own transportation from the dormitory to your job and vice versa. Since your driver’s license is suspended as part of a DUI sentence, you typically cannot drive yourself. (You may be able to qualify for restricted driving privileges, however.) You may be able to take public transportation but you will have to be back by the dormitory by a pre-approved time.
Benefits of a Work Furlough
Despite the restrictions, a work furlough has many benefits:
- You keep your job. Employers do not have to keep you on if you go to jail. If you cannot show up for work, they are within their rights to fire you or cut your hours. With a work furlough, however, you don’t have to miss time at work. Your employer will know about your DUI but you can keep reporting to work for every scheduled shift that the furlough program allows.
- You keep earning money. Traditional work release programs may allow you to earn some money, but it’s very small. When you keep your existing job, you also get to keep the rate you normally make—while working off your jail time.
- It’s work you Most traditional jobs are easier than the kind of hard labor your face on a traditional work release program.
- You get less jail time. By completing a work furlough program you can reduce your total jail time or even end up serving no jail time at all.
Are You Eligible for a Work Furlough After Your DUI?
In a DUI sentence, there are no guarantees unless you get them in writing beforehand. That’s why you should approach your case with the help of a good Los Angeles DUI lawyer. Your lawyer’s goal will be to get you no jail time at all—ideally, to even get the DUI dropped altogether. But if that’s impossible, they can negotiate with the prosecution and recommend you for a DUI work furlough program. This can help you keep your life on track while you deal with your DUI.
Don’t face the judge alone. Let us match you with an experienced California DUI attorney. Your attorney will give you a FREE consultation and help you take charge of your case. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.