If you’ve been convicted of DUIs before, you know that spending time behind bars is a real possibility. You also likely know that repeat DUI offenses in California are treated differently than a first offense, even when the facts of the case are the same. If you spent time in jail for previous convictions, you can likely expect a longer sentence for a fourth DUI.
A 4th DUI conviction typically comes with 16 months or longer in state prison. The exact length of your incarceration will depend heavily on the facts of your case and the quality of your defense.
Due to the complexity of a good DUI defense, your best chance at reducing or eliminating your time behind bars is with the help of a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases. We can help you connect with an experienced DUI lawyer when you call (310) 862-0199 or enter your contact information on this website.
Facts About a 4th DUI Jail Sentence
As a “priorable” offense, California law dictates that individuals who are repeatedly convicted of DUI are subject to escalating punishments. By the time an individual reaches a fourth DUI charge, state law allows prosecutors to seek a felony charge for the offense.
As misdemeanors, DUIs before a fourth typically come with a sentence to serve time in a county or local jail. Once you’ve reached the fourth DUI, or your DUI is charged as a felony for other reasons, the incarceration penalty will no longer result in time at a jail. Instead, you’ll be ordered to serve time at a state penitentiary. These facilities house more violent offenders, offer even less freedom than a jail, and can be hours away from your friends and family.
Prison sentences for a fourth DUI are also longer than previous DUI convictions. A fourth DUI conviction can start at 16 months but maybe as long as three years.
Longer Sentences Are Possible
The 16 months to three-year range assumes that there are no aggravating factors surrounding your DUI arrest. Aggravating factors include:
- Excessive speeding or reckless driving
- DUI with a person under 15 in your vehicle
- Causing a serious or fatal injury
- Chemical test refusal after your arrest
These aggravating factors can add years to your sentence. You may end up spending four to 15 years in state prison if one of these affects your case.
A Felony Charge Isn’t a Necessity
Prosecutors will almost always seek to pursue felony charges for a fourth DUI. However, the law does allow a fourth DUI to be tried as misdemeanors. A misdemeanor DUI charge will come with less severe penalties, including the possibility of going to a county jail instead of a state prison.
You’re not likely to get a prosecutor to agree to a misdemeanor charge on your own, particularly if he or she feels confident about the prospects of getting a conviction. With a DUI lawyer by your side, you’ll have an experienced negotiator there to pursue a lesser charge. By offering a strong challenge to the prosecutor’s case, your DUI lawyer will make it more likely that the prosecutor will agree to a lesser charge or even dropping the charges entirely.
Other Penalties That Come with a 4th DUI Conviction
While a prison sentence is among the most severe penalties that come with a DUI conviction, it isn’t the only one. Upon receiving a fourth DUI conviction, you will also be subject to:
- Felony status on your record
- $18,000 in court assessment fees and statutory fines
- Following a court order to install ignition interlock devices in all your vehicles
- 30 months of DUI classes
- Possible permanent revocation of your driver’s license
How Long You Go to Jail Depends on How Your Case Is Handled
Ultimately, there are many factors that can determine how long a fourth DUI will get you incarcerated. Many of these factors, like the prosecutor’s performance and the judge’s disposition, are out of your control.
However, you aren’t powerless to affect how long you end up in jail or prison. Having an experienced DUI lawyer representing you is an effective way to positively affect how long you end up in prison. Following the advice of the right DUI attorney may even allow you to avoid spending any time behind bars.