DUI sentencing in California is highly regulated. Whether it is your first or fourth DUI, many of the penalties of a California DUI conviction are mandatory and non-negotiable. Most people are concerned about jail time after being arrested for a DUI. For a first-time DUI, you could face up to six months in a county jail. While this may be cause for worry, many DUI offenders are not given the maximum sentence for a first-time DUI. There is a range of minimum and maximum sentencing to account for varying facts and circumstances in each case. For example, you may receive more jail time if you hurt someone while you were driving or you could face a longer license suspension if you are under 21 years of age.
Jail sentencing for DUI convictions is fairly laid out. There are mandatory jail sentences for DUIs, but you may be granted an alternative to serving all your jail time at once if it would affect your work. Most people can't serve up to six months in jail without losing their job, nor do the courts want a defendant to lose his or her job. California's county jail system is overcrowded, and the courts are motivated to find alternatives for low-risk, non-violent offenders who want to keep their jobs. Someone who is over 21 years of age with a first-time DUI conviction will face between 96 hours and six months in a county jail, 48 hours of which must be served continuously. The court may allow you to serve your jail sentence on your non-work days. If serving the 48 continuous hours would affect your work, you may be allowed to serve that time whenever you are normally scheduled to be off from work.
Keep in mind; the judge may have some discretion when it comes to handing out DUI sentences. Many people cannot afford to miss work to serve a jail sentence, and for some, paying a large fine would be impossible. Because of these real-life concerns, there may be an alternative to some components of your sentencing. Getting one of these alternatives, however, may require the assistance of an attorney. If it is important you be able to schedule your jail time around your normal work schedule, you may want to have an attorney assist you with your case. An attorney will know how to request an alternative to the mandatory 48 hours of continuous jail time. You may even be able to get work release instead of jail time. This means you work in the community, usually doing hard labor, instead of serving your time in jail.
Other penalties for a California DUI conviction range from losing your license to having to attend DUI classes. Along with a mandatory jail sentence, you will face three to five years of summary probation, between $390 and $1,000 in fines, plus any penalty assessments, at least three months of DUI classes, at a cost to you, and at least six months of a suspended license. For convictions in Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento, or Tulare County, you will also have to install an ignition interlock device in any car you drive or own. These are just the minimum penalties you can face. You could face a harsher sentence if your blood alcohol concentration was very high, you caused an accident or injury while you were driving under the influence, you were under the age of 21 while you were driving, or if you have any prior wet reckless or DUI offense within the last ten years.
If you are facing DUI charges and have concerns about sentencing, speak with an attorney right away. A DUI conviction is no small matter. There will be many requirements of your sentencing in any case, and getting the minimum sentence is not guaranteed. Speaking with an attorney should give you an idea of what consequences you face if you are convicted and what you can do to fight your charges or minimize your sentence.
Have you been arrested for a DUI in the Tulare, Kings or Fresno County area? Visalia DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens can best advise you on how to proceed with your case and face your charges. With over ten years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, Christopher Martens can help you navigate the DUI process. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, every client gets the respect they deserve. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss strategic options for your fighting your charges.