The bottom line is anybody who knows anything about DUIs, knows that the legislature has indicated there is a mandatory minimum of ninety-six hours in jail if you pick up a second-time DUI in Los Angeles County.
There are ways around this county jail sentence because many people are afraid to go into the county jail because of all of the violence and different things that are going on in there. There is the option of getting private jail, and, what that is, is a lot of the jails in Los Angeles County will let you pay to stay in their jail. Then they'll sign off for you, and then the judge will accept that, assuming that's part of your deal as serving your ninety-six hours.
A lot of times, what I do if I can convince the prosecutors and judge to give private jail on my clients DUI case in LA, then what we have them do it if they only get the bare minimum ninety-six hours, we'll have them typically do it in two forty-eight-hour blocks, so they'll surrender on a Friday. Then the police will release them on a Sunday. Then they do that two weekends, and they've gone their ninety-six hours covered, and if they work during the week, they're still able to do their job and don't have any issues.
Another thing this is nice for is that you don't go into the county jail. You're able just to pay money to the prison to watch you, and so, at least you know precisely when you're going to get out, and you can plan for it, so it doesn't impact your life too much.
Not everybody is eligible for it. It just depends on the circumstances of your case – how your attorney handles it, what your criminal record looks like, the extent of what you did related to your DUI case, and several other factors that again are fact-dependent on your particular DUI.
Sometimes I advise clients against getting this private jail if there's too much jail time to do. For example, a sixty-day sentence in a private jail is pretty tricky because one, you know you're going to have to do the full sixty days; two, you have to pay for it.
It's about $80.00 a day in many of these jails, and three, you could take the same sixty days, do it in county jail and probably be out within a day or two, especially if you're a female. They're so overcrowded right now in Los Angeles county.
People are just serving a fraction of their time, and then they get out. In that scenario, instead of paying hundreds of dollars and doing the full sixty days, you could get out within a couple of days and pay nothing.
So, again, it depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. What's going in in the county jail at the time – so, you need to talk to your attorney about it, and you two need to put your heads together and figure out what the best course of action is if you've got a second or third DUI.
Mandatory Minimum Sentence on Second-Time DUI
There's a mandatory minimum of ninety-six hours up to a year on a second. On a third, it's a minimum of one hundred twenty days up to a year, and if you violate probation in there, you could add another year on there.
So, these DUI cases start to get serious, and the reason they do is that lives are at stake as far as the legislature, the police, the prosecutors, and the judges are concerned. If people drink and drive, they kill people out on the road. They injure people, cause significant bodily injury to them.
So, the bottom line is that jail is the best deterrent because nobody wants to go to jail. It's scary. You could lose your job and lose all sorts of things when you're in jail, and you can't do anything in there.
Pleading Down to Wet or Dry Reckless
So, suppose you've got a DUI in Los Angeles County and are concerned about going to the county jail and trying to avoid that and do private jail or come up with some other angle depending on the circumstances of your case. In that case, another chance to prevent that county jail sentence on a second-time DUI in Los Angeles is if the attorney can convince the prosecutor not to make you plead to a second-time DUI.
If you plead to a wet reckless, a dry reckless, a speed contest, then that does not trigger the ninety-six-hour mandatory jail sentence. So, that's another huge thing that could help you out.
But the bottom line is this, if you have a DUI, it's terrifying, and you need to get in front of a great criminal defense attorney – someone who does a lot of DUIs. I've been doing this for twenty-five years.
I have you come in, we sit down and go over all of the facts and details of the case, and I try to give you a straightforward answer as to kind of what you're facing, some of the tactics that we can take to do damage control and help you, and then we put our plan together.
We try to put our strategy together from the beginning so that once you and I agree on what we need and what we have to have, then it's my job to go in there, execute the plan and try to keep you out of the county jail.
The worst-case scenario, if you do have to do some jail time and you do not want to do it in LA county jail – which I don't blame you – we try to get you a private jail or some other resolution – maybe a long-term alcohol program, perhaps live-in alcohol program.
There're all sorts of different angles that can be worked out if you're an attorney who knows what they're doing, has been down this road before, and had success when it comes to these DUI cases and keeping people out of county jail.