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When Would You Face Jail Time for a California DUI Case?

This is probably one of the biggest questions on people's minds when the police arrest them and take them to jail in the back of the police car and then in one of these local police stations.

They don't want to go back to jail.  They're worried that they may be facing jail for their DUI.

I will give you some of the common times when you're facing jail for a California DUI case.  That doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get jail, but that's when I've seen people get jail.

One example is if you have prior DUI's.  One significant factor that they look at in putting people in jail is whether you have prior DUIs and whether or not you get in an accident.

When Would You Face Jail Time for a California DUI Case?

If you have one, two, or three priors, there's mandatory jail time for a second, third, or fourth offense.  The more cases you have, the longer your jail sentence will be, and the more likely the prosecutor won't bend on punishing you seriously.

So, that would be one of the times that you'd be facing jail or even prison time.  If it's your fourth offense, it would be a felony, and you could go to prison for that.  If you've been convicted of a prior felony DUI and you get a new DUI, it's automatically a felony.

To give you an idea of how viciously harsh California and Los Angeles County are on DUIs — probably one of the worst states in the nation as far as letting people have it who have DUI cases.

You don't want to get one, but if you've got one, and you probably do because you're on this website, then obviously you want to handle it the right way, so you don't go to jail or prison for an extended period.

Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will review further below.

DUI Causing Injury – Vehicle Code 23153 VC

Another example of people going to jail is when they hurt somebody else.

Suppose you hurt somebody on the road in a DUI case. In that case, you can bet your bottom dollar that the judge and the prosecutors are going to be looking to throw you into either jail or prison, depending on the circumstances and extent of injuries.  VC 23153 DUI causing injury is defined as follows:

  • “while under the influence and driving to drive a vehicle doing anything forbidden by law, or neglect a duty imposed by law in driving, which causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”

In this situation, you could be arrested and charged with the following laws:

  • Vehicle Code 23153(a), driving under the influence causing injury,
  • Vehicle Code 23153(b), driving with a BAC of .08% or higher, causing injury.

To be intoxicated means a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, unless it's a commercial vehicle or passenger for hire, which is only a blood alcohol content of .04% or more.

If it's a great bodily injury where somebody is hurt, that's a three-year prison enhancement.  If you kill somebody, they can charge you with murder, commonly known as a “Watson murder.”

So, the sky's the limit for these guys when it comes to jail or prison time for DUIs as bad things happen.  So, if somebody gets hurt, that would probably be reason number two that you could quickly go to jail.

Other DUI Factors Leading to Jail Time

Other factors, either alone or combined — let's say you're speeding too fast and going over 100 miles an hour a lot of times, prosecutors and judges like to put you in jail or prison.

If you have a high blood alcohol level, that makes you much more dangerous on the road, and that's another reason they would send you to jail or prison.

Those are pretty much the main reasons people are looking at jail time.  I'll tell you another reason: you have a DUI case, or it's your second or third DUI, or even if somebody got hurt or you're speeding, and you have a weak attorney.

That's a good way that you could land yourself in jail.  You're going to need somebody strong.  You're going to need somebody battle-tested.

One thing I've noticed, and I'm just going, to tell the truth about it, is, these lawyers that claim all they do is DUIs, a lot of these lawyers are very weak.

They don't fight cases because DUIs, in general, are pretty easy to do, depending on what the blood alcohol level is, whether it's a first, second, a third time.

So, many of these DUI lawyers making all of these claims, I would say a good 50% have never even done a trial, if that's all they do is DUI cases, because a lot of DUI cases do not get to trial.

After all, if your blood alcohol level is a .08 or greater, prosecutors have a significant advantage on you in trying to convict you.

DUI Jury Trials

So, I would say, in my opinion, you want an attorney who has done trials.  For example, I've been doing this for 30 years.  I've done over 200 trials, so when I go in there, I'm looking at it from a trial standpoint.

I've looking to see if they've got weaknesses in their case.  Let's say the police come upon you, and you're on the freeway or road somewhere, and you're not driving.  The question becomes:

  • How are they going to prove that you were driving? and,
  • How will they prove your blood alcohol level when driving, especially if they don't know when you were driving?

That's just one small example of looking at it from a trial standpoint and saying to the prosecutor, you don't even know when my client was driving, so how do you know their blood alcohol level when they were driving.

Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

Fine, you've got a blood alcohol level.  Sometimes it's a high one.  But, for your expert to extrapolate backward and figure out what the BAC was at the time of driving, they're going to need to know when the person was driving.

So, you've got to have a battle-tested lawyer and not one of these wimpy lawyers that don't fight cases because sometimes these prosecutors are nasty when it comes to DUI cases, and you need somebody to be there to fight for you.

Sometimes it's fighting; sometimes it's a matter of tact; sometimes it's speaking to the right person.

So, if you or a loved one has got a DUI and you're looking for the best DUI defense attorney, you've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you. Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case evaluation.