What a bail will be set at for a DUI case depends on the two most significant factors are, whether the person is going to be a flight risk and not come back to court if the judge lets them out on their recognizance without having to post bail, or the judge sets a low bail.
The second significant consideration is – is the person a danger to the community, and this is very much applicable in DUI cases because when people are driving around with alcohol in their system, they tend to be more dangerous; they get in accidents, and they risk the lives of those people in public.
So, this is really what the judge will be focusing on in deciding what type of bail will be set in a DUI case. Suppose it's an average run-of-the-mill DUI without a high blood alcohol level, most of the time in the LA county courts. In that case, the person will be released on their own recognizance, which is it means they'll be released with a promise to appear at the next court date that's set.
On the other hand, even on a first offense, the individual has a high blood alcohol level, the judge can make them do AA meetings. In contrast, their case is pending, and while they've been released without having to post bail, or they could make them post bail, the person wouldn't have to do the AA meetings. So, bail issues for misdemeanor cases on first-time DUI's are pretty straightforward and not that difficult.
Felony DUI With Injuries
The difficulty starts to come in is, for example, in felony cases when the person has committed some severe injury against another person. That bail will typically be $100,000.00 or more depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.
If the person has violated probation related to a DUI and they have a new felony, for example, the judge can often put no bail on that probation case. So, even though you might have $100,000.00 on the felony DUI, if the judge sets a no-bail on the probation case, you're not getting out. Your attorney will have to go into the probation court to try to get the probation judge to lift the no-bail hold and either put a bail or release you on your own recognizance.
So, there are a lot of different angles and techniques that can be used to get somebody out on bail or to get the bail dealt with so they can get out on their own recognizance, but again, it depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the DUI.
The more dangerous the person's activity is perceived to be, the more likely they will get a high bail on their DUI case. Many people don't realize – for purposes of bail in DUI's or any crimes – the judge is to assume whatever the allegations are against a person in the complaint – the charging document in a criminal case.
That they're true, and that's just the way the system works – even though you still have the presumption of innocence as it relates to a jury trial for a DUI case. When it comes to bail, it's presumed that whatever they have you charged with is accurate, and that's how the judge will set the bail for your DUI case.
There's something called a bail schedule, and that pretty much controls what the judges are typically going to set DUI cases at. They can go below the bail schedule, or they can go above the bail schedule with a bail deviation if the prosecutors through the police can mount a powerful argument that your bail needs to be higher than what would typically be set because of the danger level that you pose to a society based on what you did in this case and based on what you could do in the future.
There're all kinds of different things that can be done. I've been able to avoid huge bails or no-bails by putting an ankle bracelet on my client's leg, which is called a scram bracelet, which detects alcohol and the judge orders them not to drink any alcohol while they're out on bail and their case is pending, and obviously, this scram bracelet would go off if they drank alcohol; the court would be alerted; law enforcement would be warned, and that individual would be arrested.
So, there are all kinds of different tactics and techniques that can be used to set bail. Sometimes a person has committed such a severe offense, and the prosecutors have the evidence that it's not a good idea to bail them out for a couple of reasons.
One, you're going to waste money because you're going to have to go back in again; and two, you're getting somebody else who is on a collision court for potentially worse problems. These things have to be discussed between the family and the attorney, and the family and the client, if the family is considering bailing somebody out who has a high bail related to a DUI case.
Next Step in Your Defense
It all boils down to common sense and getting in front of a seasoned DUI defense attorney who knows what they're doing and who has practiced in the jurisdiction where the place is pending – that you can talk to and say, here's what we have going on.
Be honest with the DUI defense attorney because they're not going to be able to fully help you if you don't give them good information for purposes of bail or the criminal case once you're honest with them.
When I have people come in and give me the information – we can have a frank conversation. I tell them what I think they ought to do, what I can do regarding the bail issue related to the DUI in LA county, and then we move from there. We put the pieces in place to get the person out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible and protect their rights, freedom, and DUI driving record.