Those who are facing DUI charges are often curious about the availability of house arrest as an alternative to jail time for DUI cases. For most first time DUI offenders, jail is typically not required.
Sentence for First Time DUI Offense
The sentence for a first time DUI offense can vary depending on a number of factors, including the defendant's BAC, whether or not the defendant refused testing, if there was a collision and any other relevant circumstances. While jail may not always be necessary on a first time DUI conviction, the defendant may be required to complete mandatory community service or community labor hours.
Defendants with Prior DUI Convictions
For defendants with prior DUI convictions within the previous ten years, the law requires that they be sentenced to a minimum amount of jail time. For second time offenses, the minimum jail required is 96 hours. This minimum jail time increases to 120 days for a defendant's third DUI within a ten year period. These are just minimum amounts and judges often impose harsher jail sentences for multiple DUI offenders. For many DUI defendants, this may be their first experience facing significant jail time and the prospect of such a jail sentence can be frightening.
What Does House Arrest Look Like?
Each county differs in whether they allow house arrest as an option. House arrest typically involves confinement inside of a person's home for a specified period of time. In many cases, the person on house arrest will get permission to leave the house for work each day as long as they return by a specified time. In addition, the person is usually allowed to leave the house for a couple of hours each week at a predetermined time to take care of shopping and other necessities. The person would be expected to remain in his or her home at all other times.
Anklet with GPS Device
Typically, those on house arrest are monitored electronically and would have to wear an anklet equipped with a GPS device that would immediately alert law enforcement if the person has left the home without authorization. For DUI defendants, house arrest can also be accompanied by a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring ("SCRAM") bracelet which can monitor the defendant's skin excretions for the presence of alcohol. This would ensure that someone on house arrest is not drinking.
California Jails Overcrowded
When sentencing a DUI defendant, the judge may allow house arrest in lieu of jail. Even if the judge does not specifically allow house arrest, California county jails are currently experiencing unprecedented levels of overcrowding. Many counties have started to let certain non-violent offenders, such as those convicted of DUI crimes, to serve their sentence on house arrest regardless of what the sentence calls for.
House Arrest Violations
In these cases, the defendant would bear the daily cost of house arrest, which can be very expensive. If the defendant violates the terms of house arrest by being outside of the home when not permitted or by using alcohol or drugs, he or she may have to serve the rest of the time in a locked jail facility. The defendant's probation can then be violated which could result in additional jail time being assessed.
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