With the growing numbers of deaths and injuries associated with driving under the influence, States are taking the deadly crime more seriously, imposing more severe penalties for the offender. A DUI charge can carry several consequences, including:
- DUI Fines
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
- Mandatory DUI classes or programs
For certain DUI cases, courts can send the offender to jail, depending on the severity of the offense and several other factors. Ultimately, the penalty of jail time and its period would depend on the state where convicted. But to give you an idea of the possible jail sentences, we discuss the different DUI situations that can lead to jail time.
Jail Time for a DUI
Different states would have different penalties for DUI offenders, with plenty imposing jail time for recurring offenses or severe situations. There are a lot of factors that can determine whether or not an offender is sentenced to jail time for a DUI charge.
Factors That Determine Whether or Not an Offender Goes to Jail
These factors can determine the severity of an offender’s sentence — i.e. whether or not they will go to jail and how long their jail sentence will be.
- Prior DUI convictions
- More than one pending DUI charges
- Revoked license due to prior DUI offense
- The offender caused a serious personal injury
Jail Time for a DUI Causing Injury
If the offender caused an injury to another person while driving under the influence, they can face harsher penalties. DUIs involving an injury to another person can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony and carry a penalty of anywhere from 5 days to 10 years, depending on the state.
The sentence can also be aggravated if the offender caused injury to several individuals and the seriousness of the injury.
Jail Time for DUI Based on Number of Offenses
The number of prior DUI offenses is a strong determinant of the penalties that the courts will impose on a DUI offender. Habitual offenders will have more severe penalties than first-time offenders.
First DUI Misdemeanor Offense
Most States consider first DUI offenses as misdemeanors, which are crimes that have a maximum jail time of 6 months, depending on the State. First-time offenders can face anywhere from 10, 30, or 60 days in jail, while some States do not carry possible jail time.
In Los Angeles, courts usually offer plea deals that absolve a first-time DUI offender from possible jail sentencing, provided that there are no aggravating circumstances involved in the case.
Second-Time DUI Misdemeanor Offense
Second DUI offenses that were committed within 10 years of the first offense carry a penalty of mandatory jail time. Depending on the State, an offender can be sentenced to county jail for 96 hours to 1 year.
There are also some states that offer alternative penalties. In San Bernardino County, California, for example, jail sentences for second-time offenders can be converted to work release. This is a form of an alternative sentence where the offender can leave the jail only to report to work.
Third-Time DUI Misdemeanor Offense
Third-time offenses committed within 10 years of the first and second offenses have a mandatory jail time penalty of 120 to 365 days in county jail, depending on the regulations of the state or county. Some areas require a minimum of 210 days in jail for third-time DUI offenses.
Fourth-time DUI Offense
Offenders who have been charged with a DUI offense for the fourth time within the 10 year period are considered to have committed a felony. Hence, there are stricter penalties for fourth-time offenders, which typically involve a mandatory jail time of 16 months to 3 years in the State prison or county jail.
Again, the sentencing would differ from state to state. Other factors such as situations of prior convictions and criminal history will also aggravate the sentence.
Aggravating Circumstances That Can Lead to Jail Time
Some DUI charges never result in jail sentencing. But there are certain aggravating circumstances that can increase the sentence of the offender.
- A blood alcohol content of 0.15% or higher, depending on the State
- Cases when the offender caused a serious accident, such as death, injury, or property damage
- Driving at an excessive speed
- Minors were passengers at the time of the offense
- The offender’s refusal to submit to a chemical test
- Under-aged offenders
These aggravating circumstances can lead to jail time for the offender or increase the period of their jail sentence.
Hire a DUI Lawyer
With the legal complexities involved and the possibility of harsh penalties, there’s no doubt that a DUI case can be overwhelming. If you are facing a DUI charge, you should hire an attorney who can help you navigate your case. Having a lawyer experienced in DUI offenses with you through this phase in your life can help you obtain a fairer sentence.