When it comes to arguing bail for DUI cases in Los Angeles, California, I've been doing it for 25 years now and I know that judges are very cautious when it comes to these type of cases because they're always concerned for the public's safety.
That's one of the big things in bail in any case, but in particular for a California DUI.
One of the judge's biggest concerns is that the public is protected from a particular person.
Own Recognizance Release and AA Meetings
So, a lot of times what they will do is, as a condition of releasing somebody on their own recognizance where they don't have to post bail in a misdemeanor bail, what the judges will do is, they will tell the person that they've got to do one AA meeting per week while they're out on bail in order to remain on the bail they've posted or in order to remain out on their own recognizance.
I've even seen them say that they have to do a certain amount of AA meetings between the court date that the OR release is given and the next court date. That can be as many as five per week.
So, they're really trying to send a message to the criminal defendant that drinking and driving is not only dangerous to themselves, where they could get in an accident and be killed, but it's also dangerous to the public in general.
They're really going to make you think about what you're doing by making you go to these AA meetings.
I see this a lot in cases where people get a misdemeanor DUI case. They get sent into court.
The police cite them in and don't make them post bail and then the judge will order them to do AA meetings.
This is one usually in cases where the person has a high blood alcohol level.
Because they figure if somebody is getting in a vehicle and driving a car that has a high blood alcohol level, they must have an alcohol program.
They've got a second or third DUI so we're going to have to do everything we possibly can in order to protect the public from that person.
Bail for Felony DUI in California
Now, when you start to talk about felony cases and bail, you're now talking about a situation where either somebody has a first-time DUI which will automatically trigger a felony filing, or the person has a prior felony DUI and they get a new DUI.
That will trigger a felony filing. And finally, if the person gets into a bad accident and seriously injures another party or causes great bodily injury to another party, that will trigger a felony filing.
Anytime you're talking about a felony filing, you can bet the judges are going to set bail and they're going to set it as high as they justifiably can.
What they're going to be looking at in a felony DUI at the time of setting bail is what the person's criminal record is.
Did they hurt anybody, what their blood alcohol was, how fast they were going — all of these factors are going to weigh in, and again they're going to be eye towards protecting the public.
Bail to Ensure Defendant's Court Appearance
The other thing that the courts look at is whether or not the person is going to show up in court. That's another justification for making the person post the bail because they'll lose a bunch of money if they don't' show up.
I don't think that's as prevalent in DUI cases because most times people will show up. They'll have a warrant issued for them which will eventually be executed. They'd be arrested and their home, at their work, be pulled over in their car.
Nobody wants to be looking over their shoulder related to a DUI matter. So, usually that's not the biggest reason that a bail will be set in a DUI case at a high level.
It's mainly going to be because the person is a danger to society, a danger to the public, and the judge feels that a bail should be set in order to protect the public.
As far as what that bail is going to be, there's something called a bail schedule in Los Angeles county for example, where the judges have put bail on every single crime so your attorney should know, or at least have a pretty good idea, what your bail is going to be set at.
If any, by virtue of what you're going to be charged with and what you've been arrested for.
Then you can go in there anticipating whether or not they're going to try to make you post a bail.
Reviewing Bail Options with a DUI Lawyer
That's why it's so crucial to get that first meeting with your attorney. I meet with the client. We go over what the charges are.
We go over what their criminal record is and then we'll have an idea going in whether or not the prosecutors will attempt to make a person post a bail.
Also, whether or not the judge will go along with that and then set a bail, because if they're going to do that, obviously, we're going to need to have a bail bondsman ready to go who can post the bail so you don't go in custody for a long period of time.
A lot of times in DUI cases where bails going to be set, I can have a bail bondsman ready and we can have the person released from the courtroom so they don't end up having to be booked, processed, sent down to county jail and then they're going to be in there a number of hours.
Obviously, nobody wants to do that and that's part of having a good DUI defense attorney anticipating what's going to happen, taking the precautions and making the right moves to get the right results.