Alternatives to Jail Time for a California DUI

March 29, 2020

From community service to agreeing to electronic monitoring, there are a number of alternatives to going to jail for a DUI.

From community service to agreeing to electronic monitoring, there are a number of alternatives to going to jail for a DUI.

In California, if you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI), you may be sentenced to a period of time in jail. Even for a first-time offense, the court has the authority to put you in jail. However, with the help of a skilled DUI defense lawyer in Orange County, CA, you may be able to avoid spending time in county jail.

After an arrest for a DUI, you may decide to plead no contest or guilty to a DUI, or to go to trial. If you agree to plea to the crime or if a jury finds you guilty of the charge, then the judge will sentence you based (1) the severity of the crime; and (2) your criminal history for alcohol-related driving charges. Even for a first-time misdemeanor (low-level) DUI, you may be sentenced to:

  • Up to 6 months in jail;
  • 3 to 5 years of informal DUI probation
  • DUI school from 3 to 9 months
  • A driver’s license suspension of 6 months
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for 6 months
  • Fines and penalties that may range from $1,500 to $2,000

These consequences are harsh — particularly serving time in jail. With the help of an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Orange County, CA, you may be able to avoid jail time.

There are a number of possible alternatives to jail time for a California DUI. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may be able to go to drug or alcohol rehabilitation (inpatient or outpatient), attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel, perform community service, wear an electronic monitoring (SCRAM) device, go to sober living, and/or attend DUI school.

In many cases, these alternatives are ordered as part of DUI probation. For example, a condition of probation may be that you attend DUI school (alcohol education classes) and perform community service. A judge may also order you to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.

Community service is often required as part of DUI probation. The judge has to approve the specific community service program, and will often choose a program for you, such as doing roadside work with Cal-Trans. The amount of community service that you have to do will depend on the facts of your case.

A judge may also order you to wear a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) device (aka an ankle monitor). SCRAM devices allow law enforcement to supervise you, by altering the police if you consume alcohol. The devices work by deterring alcohol in your sweat. In most cases, SCRAM devices are ordered for repeat DUI offenders.

A judge may also order a repeat DUI offender to go to sober living. This is not rehab, but a residential community where you can live as long as you completely abstain from drugs and/or alcohol.

Importantly, if you violate any terms of your probation — such as skipping alcohol education classes, not going to a Victim Impact Panel, or drinking alcohol while wearing a SCRAM device — the judge could send you back to jail. That is why it is so important to fully understand the terms of your probation. Your DUI defense lawyer in Orange County, CA can help you figure out what you are and are not allowed to do as part of your probation — to help keep you out of jail.

At the Chambers Law Firm, we are highly skilled at negotiating DUI plea agreements that allow our clients to stay out of jail. If your case goes to trial, we will zealously defend you -- and will make a strong case for jail alternatives in the event that you are convicted. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 855-397-0210 or info@orangecountyduifirm.com.

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