Drivers convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) face numerous penalties in California. Many drivers wonder if jail time is mandatory for a DUI conviction. The court may sentence you to time in jail after a DUI. However, the way you handle your case could help you avoid incarceration.
Use this article to find out more about how long you could spend in jail after a DUI conviction. You may also consider your legal options to handle a DUI arrest in the state of California.
California DUI Convictions Lead to Jail Time
The court often sends drivers convicted of a DUI to jail in California — this includes first-time DUI offenders. You may face jail time if charged with a “simple” DUI. Simple DUIs are usually misdemeanor-level offenses. Generally, no one is hurt or killed in a simple DUI. Drivers convicted of a simple DUI may face:
- Up to six months of jail time for a first offense.
- Up to one year of jail time for a second or third offense.
The court may prosecute a fourth DUI offense as a felony. Felonies in the state of California typically lead to prison time. Prisons have a harsher reputation than local jails. A driver with three previous DUIs could face up to three years in prison. You may also face prison time for:
- A DUI with injury.
- Vehicular manslaughter.
- Gross vehicular manslaughter.
- DUI second degree murder.
Some DUI offenses could even lead to life in prison. Due to the severe nature of DUI charges, you should get legal help quickly after an arrest. Speak to a law firm by calling (310) 929-6503.
Additional Penalties for DUI Convictions in California
You may face additional penalties for a DUI conviction in California. Depending upon your situation, the court may order you to:
- Pay thousands of dollars in fines.
- Complete months of DUI school.
- Install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.
- Serve probation.
While you are on probation, you must adhere to regulations handed down by the court. For example, you may not be able to drink any alcohol while on probation. Failure to follow court orders could result in a probation violation in California. You may face additional criminal charges in this situation.
Avoid Jail Time with a Plea Bargain in California
You will only face jail time for a DUI in California if the court convicts you. You can avoid a DUI conviction through several legal strategies. A DUI lawyer may advise you to take a plea bargain to resolve your charges, for example.
Prosecutors offer plea bargains in many first-time DUI cases. A plea bargain requires you to plead guilty to a less serious criminal charge. In exchange for a guilty plea, the prosecution lowers the penalties you face. The prosecutor may take jail time off the table with a plea bargain.
However, not all plea bargains work in your best interests. Make sure that you allow a lawyer to review any offer from the prosecution before you accept it.
Get Your Charges Dismissed to Avoid Jail Time
You will not be sent to jail in California if the court dismisses your DUI charges. The judge may waive your charges if a lawyer shows that a police officer stopped you without reasonable cause or that the evidence against you is weak.
Your lawyer may also help you avoid jail time by defending you in court. There are several possible defenses to DUI charges in Los Angeles. A lawyer may work to show that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was not actually over the legal limit at the time of your arrest, for example.
Your lawyer may also dispute the accuracy of a BAC testing device. Breathalyzers do not always operate properly or return accurate results. Failure to follow specific regulations could result in a false positive. You may not face jail time if you are found not guilty by the court.
Speak to a Lawyer About Mandatory Jail Time for a DUI
The court sometimes treats jail time as mandatory for a DUI conviction in California. Find out how you could avoid jail time with the Simmrin Law Group. Speak to us right now to start working on your defense. Reach us by calling (310) 929-6503. You could also complete our online contact form to get help.
Find out more about your case with a free consultation. Start reviewing all your options right now.