Here’s a great article contributed by DelanceyStreet.com, a Los Angeles hard money lender. After being arrested for on suspicion of driving under the influence, most Los Angeles residents wonder if they will have to spend more time in jail after being sentenced. There is no universal answer that fits this question. In some cases, a person may serve jail time. Others may receive lighter punishments without jail time, and some people may have the DUI charges against them dropped completely. It is important to understand these important factors.
When a person is arrested for driving under the influence, he or she is simply being charged with an offense. Charges are allegations that must be proven and supported with evidence before they become convictions. If a charge does not warrant a conviction, a jail sentence cannot be ordered. Police officers may arrest people on suspicion of DUI without conducting breath or blood testing. However, proof must be obtained and submitted after the arrest to move forward with pursuing a conviction. If there is no evidence, a good attorney can help get the charges dropped.
A person must enter a plea of guilty to be convicted of a DUI. The individual cannot enter the plea under duress. It must be entered voluntarily. However, a person who enters a plea of not guilty could still be found guilty during a trial if the jury determines that the evidence is sufficient for a conviction. A guilty verdict is found when the judge and jury believe that the individual’s guilt is evident beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, a person who was unable to walk a straight line because of an injury could be arrested and charged. If that were the only bit of evidence, it would present a weak case. However, a person who had open containers of alcohol and failed a breathalyzer test would likely be found guilty unless there was misconduct from the arresting officer.
If an individual is found guilty of driving under the influence by plea or by trial, the verdict does not automatically come with a jail sentence. Los Angeles judges consider several factors. The individual’s criminal history, DUI history and surrounding factors of the case determine the severity of the sentence. For example, someone who is pulled over for suspected DUI and does not have a criminal record may receive a light sentence the first time. The sentence could include a fine, a court-ordered ignition lock on the individual’s vehicle, mandatory attendance in a drug or alcohol program and unsupervised probation for a few years.
Someone who has a previous DUI charge will likely experience stiffer penalties. Some individuals serve a short jail sentence and have their driving privileges revoked for at least 90 days. The probation term and education programs are longer, and there are fines. A third DUI offense comes with even longer education and probation maximums. There are fines, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 120 days in jail is part of the sentencing guidelines. Also, convicted individuals have their driving privileges revoked longer and have lengthier restriction periods when they are allowed to drive again. As a rule, any incarceration that comes with a DUI sentence is served in a county jail. The exception is when there is also criminal activity related to the case. For example, if a person who was driving under the influence hit and killed a pedestrian, robbed a bank or assaulted someone before being arrested, there would also be criminal charges for those acts. If convicted of such acts, an individual would likely serve time in state prison.
The key to remember is that egregious factors for first-time offenses, additional criminal activity, second offenses or third offenses are the main reasons for a jail sentence. Many first-time DUI convictions do not result in jail time. In some cases, judges prefer to give people a chance to learn from their mistake and move forward rather than make their lives difficult with a jail sentence for the first offense. For those who are charged with a DUI, finding a good attorney is the best way to see a favorable outcome whether it is the first, second or third offense.