The short answer is yes, you may go to jail if convicted for DUI. How long you are sentenced to jail depends on several factors, including 1) whether you have any prior offenses; 2) whether there was an accident; 3) the driving behavior (e.g., was it very reckless or dangerous?); 4) whether another person was injured or killed as a result of your driving while DUI; 4) whether you refused to submit to a breath or blood test following your DUI arrest; and 5) how high was your blood alcohol content (BAC) as determined by a breath or blood test.
CONTACT our office today if you were arrested for DUI and are worried about going to jail. If the conviction is anything more than a 1st DUI offense, and does not involve injury, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence required by law. Even a 1st DUI can result in jail time if there are aggravating factors involved. Aggravating factors are defined as "any facts or circumstances that increase the severity or culpability of a criminal act." In DUI cases, aggravating factors include reckless or dangerous driving, accidents, injuries, and high BAC results.
For example, by way of comparison, John is pulled over for talking on his cell phone. The officer smells an odor of alcohol coming from John's breath and asks him to get out of the car and perform several field sobriety tests (FST). In the officer's opinion, John does not do well on the FST's so he asked him to take the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test. John agrees and gives two samples: .10 and .10. The officer places John under arrest for DUI. John elects to submit to a breath test under California's implied consent law and gives two breath samples of .10 and .09. John hires a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer to represent him. Rather than go to trial, John instructs his attorney to negotiate the best plea bargain deal that he can. This is John's 1st DUI offense. Because there are no aggravating factors in John's case, and the BAC results are only slightly above the .08 legal limit, his DUI lawyer is able to negotiate a plea bargain which will allow John to plea no contest to a "wet reckless." There will be no jail time and the DUI charges will be dismissed. On the other hand, Joan decides to drive home after a night out drinking with her friends. She gets into a single car accident. Fortunately, nobody was injured in the accident. Officers contacted Joan at the scene and she was so drunk that she was unable to perform the FST's. Her PAS test showed a BAC results of .22 and .23. She was placed under arrest for DUI and chose to take a breath test, which resulted in BAC readings of .21 and .20. The Los Angeles City Attorney filed DUI charges against Joan, including an enhancement alleging that her BAC was greater than a .20. Although this is Joan's 1st DUI offense, because of the aggravating factors, including an accident, inability to perform FST's, and high BAC results, Joan's DUI sentence includes 30 days in jail.
1st time DUI offenses that involve injury require a mandatory minimum of 5 days in jail. For 2nd time DUI offenses and up, there is also mandatory jail time. You can read additional details about DUI penalties on our previous blog posts: California DUI Penalties - Non Injury Cases and Injury Cases. If you have been arrested for DUI, it is best to contact a good Los Angeles DUI Lawyer. CONTACT our office today for a free and confidential consultation.