When you face a DUI conviction in California, you are looking at spending thousands of dollars on fines and fees, time without a license, mandatory DUI classes, and the possibility of spending time in jail. The length of your imprisonment and the type of jail you go to for a DUI will depend on the circumstances of your case. You may spend a few days in your local jail, or you may end up serving more than a year in a state prison.
A jail sentence, no matter how short, is a deeply unpleasant experience. With the help of the right DUI lawyer, it may be possible to reduce or even eliminate the time you spend behind bars. To schedule your free consultation with a DUI lawyer who can help you understand the penalties you face with a DUI charge, call (310) 896-2724 or fill out the form on the right of this page with your contact information.
Understanding the Difference Between Jail and Prison
When speaking in normal circumstances, it’s common to use the words “jail” and “prison” interchangeably. However, when it comes to possible imprisonment, “jail” and “prison” mean two very different things.
When you are sentenced to serve time in jail, you will be locked up at your local detention center. This may be run by your county’s police or sheriff’s department. It may be the facility you spend time in prior to your arraignment and is generally less restrictive than a prison.
A prison is a state penitentiary, which typically houses individuals convicted of the most serious crimes. A prison will be substantially more restrictive than a jail, is likely to be more dangerous, and could be hundreds of miles away from your family.
The Facts of Your DUI Case Affect Where You Go
The kind of jail you end up going to will be determined by the circumstances of your DUI arrest and what history you have with driving under the influence. In many cases, a “simple” DUI will result in a sentence at a local jail. The more severely other people are impacted by your DUI or if you have more than three prior DUI convictions in the past 10 years, the more likely you are to be sentenced to serve time at a state prison.
Time in a local jail will typically range from a few days to less than a year. Time in a state prison for a DUI will generally be for more than a year and could be more than 10 years. Under California’s three-strikes laws, you may end up serving 25 years to life in a state prison for certain felony DUIs.
Other Penalties for a DUI Conviction
In addition to facing time behind bars, a DUI conviction can come with a number of other penalties. These penalties include:
- Several hundred to a thousand dollars in fines, with court assessment fees that can bring your total money out of pocket into the several thousand dollars range
- Losing your license for six or more months
- Three or more months of DUI education classes
- Paying out of pocket to install ignition interlock devices in every vehicle you drive
Even if you beat the DUI charge, if you don’t act quickly enough, you may still lose your license. This is because the DMV has an automatic administrative suspension that kicks in within 30 days of your DUI arrest. You have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing, but you can have a lawyer represent you for this process.
Alternatives to Jail or Prison
Under certain circumstances, you may be able to petition the court to give you an alternative to the standard jail or prison sentence. California does allow judges to sentence individuals to serve their mandatory jail or prison time in rehab or under house arrest. Getting one of these alternative sentences will be tricky, likely requiring you to show a great deal of remorse and have an attorney present a compelling reason for the leniency to the judge.
Reduce the Jail Time for Your DUI
Your best chance of avoiding any kind of jail time for your DUI is by contacting a lawyer with experience handling cases just like yours. While prosecutors often want you to face the longest possible imprisonment, it is not uncommon for skilled DUI attorneys to help their clients get reduced time behind bars. In some cases, you may be eligible to have your jail time waived for alcohol treatment or community service.
When you’re ready to see what a DUI lawyer can do to help you, call (310) 896-2724. DUI cases are complex and building a strong defense requires time. So, don’t hesitate – call today!