The question as to whether a person will go to jail related to a DUI arrest is undoubtedly one on most people's minds. This is especially true if you spent any time in one of the local jails following your arrest.
No one likes their freedom taken away, and the local jails are no fun! 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 relate 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 to stop you. And this includes jail time. It is up to your DUI attorney to paint an entirely different picture of you to achieve the best possible result for your DUI case.
Multiple DUI Offenses in Los Angeles County
If you are charged with a DUI and have one or more DUIs within ten years, 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, you will face a minimum of 96 hours in jail up to a maximum of one year.
When you are on probation, you will face additional time for the probation violation and a new case when you pick up your second DUI. There are ways around the mandatory jail, but these angles should be discussed with a seasoned DUI defense attorney. One tip is for your attorney to convince the prosecutor to permit you to plead to a lesser charge. For example, there is no mandatory jail time if you claim to be a wet reckless.
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 primarily protect the public from unsafe/dangerous drivers. Hence, if you continue to drink alcohol and drive, they will eventually come down on you with the total weight of the law.
For a fourth DUI offense within ten years, you face prison time and a felony on your record. Once you start to get into 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 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.
As you read the above, I'm sure you realize that the legislature, police, prosecutors, and judges are particularly keen on protecting the public/community from those 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 strict DUI laws.
Every person who pleads for a DUI in Los Angeles County is warned that it is dangerous to human life if they drink alcohol and drive. Further, they are told that if they drink alcohol, drive a car, and someone is killed due to their unsafe driving, they can and will be charged with second-degree murder and face fifteen years in prison.
California's Strict Drunk Driving Laws
Suffice to say, California is one of the most authoritarian states regarding DUI law. If you are charged with a DUI, your best bet 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 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.