Is DUI Incarceration the Same as Jail Time?
The term “DUI incarceration” means time in custody, whether in a jail, under house arrest, or some other form of detention. In some states, the statutory minimum jail time must be served even if other alternative forms of “detention” are imposed. It means the State controls a defendant’s freedom of movement.
If convicted of a DUI-DWI offense, many jurisdictions require that an offender be led in handcuffs from the courtroom by deputies if the sentence includes jail time. Some courts, however, will delay the start of the jail sentence. Also, filing an appeal may delay imposition of jail time, if an appeal bond is posted.
How much jail time will I serve?
For a misdemeanor DUI-DWI, the typical maximum period of incarceration is 12 months. However, if convicted of multiple criminal counts from a single driving episode, one or more of which are DUI-DWI offenses, the total amount of incarceration can extend (due to consecutive sentences being “stacked”) to more than a year, even if all counts are misdemeanors.
Also, repeat offense DUI-DWI offenders face FELONY punishment for a third, fourth (or in some states) even a SECOND offense.
Are there alternatives to jail time?
Depending on your state’s DUI laws, there may be alternatives to regular jail time that a judge may consider. Consult with one of our DUI-DWI specialists on your alternatives. Any “alternative” is at the discretion (choice) of the judge, not your defense attorney. If sentenced to any of these alternatives, the period of incarceration may be longer than what might have been required for “regular” jail time to offset the special benefit of obtaining the alternative sentence.
The judge must always keep in mind the need to adequately punish the defendant for his or her acts.
It must be noted that all of these alternatives to jail time have significant “compliance” requirements and “accountability.” For example, a judge may permit you to serve all but the minimum jail sentence on probation, but will require random phone monitoring or an ankle bracelet (permitting your movement outside of your home) to be utilized to prove that home detention was followed.
Additionally, a judge may require regular drug and alcohol screening to be performed. A violation of any of these requirements or criteria likely means a loss of these privileges and that you violated the terms of your sentence. Significant jail time will usually be imposed, rather than allow you to serve your sentence on probation.
One of these detention alternatives may be “work-release.” In this case, the defendant is allowed some time off on a daily or regular basis so that he or she can go to work, but must report to the jail to be kept locked up every evening. This may be required for part or all of your sentence, depending on your prior record. Defendants who are allowed this option will typically be tested regularly for alcohol and drugs as a condition of this type of incarceration. Plus, the rules of the facility are strict.
A court may impose this type of incarceration for defendants who are otherwise at low risk to commit further crimes and who have regular jobs that would likely be lost if the defendant were to serve regular jail time. Many judges try not to harm a convicted person’s dependents (children and spouse), if possible.
Another form of incarceration may be a weekend jail sentence, where defendants are allowed to work all week, and stay at home all week, then report only to the jail for service of jail time on one or more weekends. This is very uncommon in DUI-DWIs due to the limited bed space at jails on the weekends.
What is house arrest?
Another kind of alternative incarceration that may be available is house arrest. In this situation, the defendant must physically stay in his or her home, subject to frequent and random confirmation of the detainee’s presence at home by the State. Some defendants will be required to wear a form of electronic monitoring device to prove compliance, such as an ankle bracelet.
The bracelet will either be “radio-controlled” to prevent you from leaving home, or may be operated by GPS (satellite). Other jurisdictions use technology such as Vis-a-tel® (phone camera plus breathalyzers) to assure compliance. Some use a transdermal device that continuously monitors sweat from a person’s skin to detect any use of alcohol. These have come under attack, however.