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The question as to whether a person will go to jail related to a DUI arrest is certainly one on most people’s minds. This is especially true if you spent anytime in one of the local jails following your arrest. No one likes there freedom taken away and the local jails are no fun to say the least! The good news is that in Los Angeles Courthouses most first time DUI defendants do not receive any jail time for their punishment. Like most things in life, there are exceptions to this rule. Most of the exceptions to the no jail time component of DUI cases relates to those individuals who are a danger to the community.
The types of activities (for lack of a better word) that can cause you to be sentenced to jail include but are not limited to, excessive speed, extreme reckless driving, causing an accident, very high blood alcohol level and just about any activity that can be characterized as dangerous to human life. The prosecutors and judges in Los Angeles are laser focused on protecting the public. If they feel you are a danger, they will use all punishments and deterrents available to them to stop you. And, this includes jail time. It is up to your DUI attorney paint and entirely different picture of you in order to achieve the best possible result for your DUI case.
If you are charged with a DUI and have one or more DUI’s within ten years, then your likelihood of going to jail increases significantly. If you are charged with and convicted of a second time DUI in any of the LA courthouses then you will face a minimum of 96 hours in jail up to a maximum of one year. If you are on probation when you pick up your second DUI, you will face additional time for the probation violation and new case together. There are ways around the mandatory jail, but these angles should be discussed with a seasoned DUI defense attorney. One angle is for your attorney to convince the prosecutor to permit you to plead to a lessor charge. For example, if you plead to a wet reckless then there is no mandatory jail time.
When it comes to a third time DUI, the punishment significantly increases. The minimum jail sentence for a third time DUI in Los Angeles County is 120 days in jail. And, the likelihood of convincing the prosecutors and judge to give you a break under these circumstances is significantly less than for a third offense. Again, the prosecutor and judge are primarily focused on protecting the public from unsafe / dangerous drivers. Hence, if you continue to drink alcohol and drive they will eventually come down on you with the full weight of the law.
For a fourth DUI offense within ten years you are facing prison time and a felony on your record. Once you start to get into to this realm, you will be shown no mercy by the judge and prosecutor and will be considered a menace to society and they will do everything in there power to stop you from drinking and driving. I see a lot of judges ordering defendants not to drink alcohol and even having them wear the SCRAM Bracelet on their ankle which detects if you have consumed alcohol and will alert the court if you violate their order not to drink.
I’m sure as you read the above you realize that the legislature, police, prosecutors and judges are particularly keen on protecting the public / community from those people who drink alcohol and drive a motor vehicle. There is a significant amount of political pressure that has been placed on the authorities by groups like MADD to enact and enforce tough DUI laws.
Every single person who pleads to a DUI in Los Angeles County is warned that if they drink alcohol and drive that it is dangerous to human life. Further, they are told that if they drink alcohol, drive a car and someone is killed as a result of their unsafe driving, they can and will be charged with second degree murder and will be facing fifteen years to life in prison.
Suffice to say California is one of the toughest states in the nation when it comes to DUI law. Your best bet, if you are charged with a DUI, is to find an attorney who has helped people in your situation in the courthouse where your case is pending. Let that attorney be your guide and help you make the right decisions related to your case. When I meet with clients I make it a point to have them lay out everything on the table in the first meeting and let them know what they are realistically facing and what they can do to help me best defend them.