Court Punishment: Jail
A DUI / DWI lawyer will often work to get the charges and the punishment against a client reduced as much as possible. If the charge is felony drunk driving an attorney will commonly ask for a reduced charge of misdemeanor DUI / DWI. When the charge is misdemeanor driving under the influence, a lawyer will attempt to negotiate for lesser charges such a wet-reckless or a dry-reckless. In many cases, the nature of the charge will reflect directly upon the sentence. Whenever there is a jail sentence, the time of the sentence may be lessened if the charges can be reduced.
A person who is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or driving while intoxicated may quite possibly face a jail sentence. The jail sentence will depend on various factors including the abilities and tenacity of the DUI / DWI lawyer. Prior convictions are often major considerations in determining the length of a prison sentence.
The harshest penalties are reserved for felony DUIs. Felony drunk driving cases include four time offenders and drinking and driving involving injuries to others. On a first offense involving an injury, the jail sentence will be five days to one year in jail if the driver accepts probation. If the driver chooses to decline probation, he or she will face between 90 days and one year in jail. A second driving under the influence offense within the 10 year “lookback” period will result in either a 30 day in jail term or 120 days to one year in jail. If the driver declines probation the 30 day sentence will not be available.
A first time offender won’t likely serve jail time for a simple misdemeanor. The typical first offense will carry no minimum jail sentence. Although there is no minimum, the judge may sentence the driver to 48 hours to six months in jail. An experienced California DUI / DWI attorney can generally help a first time drunk driving offender avoid jail time if there are no special or extraordinary circumstances. This rule applies when a driver agrees to go on probation. If a driver seeks to avoid probation they will face a sentence of 96 hours to six months in jail.
Second time drunk drivers within the 10 year “lookback” period who are willing to accept the conditions of probation can face a 96 hour sentence, a 10 day sentence, or up to year in jail. When the second time offender rejects probation he or she will face 90 days to one year in jail. When a third time offender accepts probation they will face 120 days to one year in jail. When the third time offender rejects the offer of probation they too will face a sentence between 120 days and one year in jail.
At the end of the day, the quality of one’s criminal defense attorney can greatly affect a prison sentence. Judges have discretion to sentence a person to the minimum or maximum sentence, or something in between. Often times it is the lawyer that convinces the judge to be lenient in sentencing.