How to Avoid Jail Time for 2nd or 3rd DUI in California
The first time a defendant is charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in California, the crime is a misdemeanor. There may be aggravating circumstances (if there was an accident involving injury, for example), and jail time is a possibility, but typically the defendant will receive a fine, a license suspension, and probation. The punishments for DUI get progressively more severe, however, if the defendant has a prior DUI on their record. For a second or third DUI, incarceration becomes much more likely. However, with the help of a dedicated and skilled Ventura DUI defense lawyer, jail time may not be inevitable.
Punishments for second and third DUI
In California, if you are convicted of a second DUI within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction, the penalty is much more severe. The second DUI is still chargeable as a misdemeanor but carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 96 hours and a maximum of one year in jail, in addition to heavy fines, DUI classes, and a much longer license suspension. Ventura county imposes even more severe penalties, with fines up to $3,000, three years of probation, and 30 days in jail.
Your third DUI in 10 years is no joke: You must typically undergo a 30-month DUI education program; you lose your license for at least 2 years; you must install an ignition interlock device (IID) to test your BAC when you are able to drive again; and you face 120 days minimum and one year maximum in county jail.
Alternatives to jail time
Despite the mandatory minimum jail times written into the statute, jail time is not actually inevitable for repeat DUIs. California jails are overcrowded, and courts often look for a reason to let nonviolent offenders pay their debt to society outside of jail, or at least entertain the idea of early release. Even for second DUI offenses, courts are willing to impose either house arrest or work furlough rather than jail time. California courts see these alternatives as better for rehabilitation, eschewing the need for jail time.
House arrest involves installing monitoring location hardware at your home to track your location. Work furlough is even better, allowing you to continue working the job you already have, provided you head straight home after work. You may be confined to a government-run dormitory facility rather than your own home as part of the work furlough process, but it still beats jail. Both options allow you to keep your job, keep earning money, and avoid the discomfort and hazards of jail. Both options come with costs: You are likely responsible for paying to stay at the dormitory facility, or for the cost of installing and monitoring the electronic equipment used for house arrests. If you can afford them, they are still better than jail time.
Note that many courts are willing to consider house arrest or work furlough for a second DUI but not for a third. However, with the help of an experienced and zealous California criminal defense attorney, house arrest may be available even for a third DUI offense.
Help with DUI & Criminal Defense in Ventura County
If you are facing criminal charges in southern California, get seasoned, effective and dedicated legal help by contacting the Ventura offices of Paul Tyler for a free consultation at 805-889-9000.