How to Avoid Jail After a DUI Conviction
Driving under the influence of alcohol, or DUI, is considered a serious crime in most states, and with good reason. DUIs were responsible for about 31 percent of fatal car crashes in 2010, and about three out of every 100,000 Americans were killed in an alcohol-related accident. For this reason, if you are convicted of DUI, you probably will face a mandatory jail sentence. However, you can avoid jail if you are willing to accept help to stop drinking.
Avoid Jail By Going to Rehab
The most common alternative sentence for DUIs is to enter an alcohol rehabilitation program. Most states offer an alternative sentencing program in which you attend rehab for anywhere from 30 days to one year. When you successfully complete the program, you must turn your certificate of completion into the court to prove that you complied with the requirements. You may also have to fulfill other court requirements such as community service or alcohol awareness classes, and you may still lose your driver's license for a period of time. However, you can avoid jail if you go to rehab instead.
Rehab in lieu of jail is more commonly given to first-time DUI offenders than to people who have multiple DUIs on their records. The reasoning is that a first DUI offense may be the wake-up call a person needs to realize that he or she needs help and that by requiring the person to get help now, the court can intervene in alcoholic behavior before the disease progresses further. People who have multiple DUIs on their records, however, have already struggled with alcohol problems for a while and may be seen as lost causes. However, if your attorney can make the case that your multiple DUI convictions are the result of an unaddressed alcoholism problem, some courts may grant you rehab instead.
Avoid Jail By Appealing Your Conviction
If you don't believe you are guilty of DUI or there are problems with the way the police handled your arrest, you may be able to get the conviction overturned on appeal. Talk to your attorney as soon as possible after being convicted of DUI. Your attorney can help you plan your legal strategy; if there's a reasonable chance of having the conviction overturned, he or she will recommend this course of action.
Attorneys usually file an appeal if there was a legal loophole that might affect your conviction. For example, if your attorney believes that the police acted improperly or that their breathalyzer machines were not calibrated properly, your attorney may appeal on these grounds. Your appeal may help you get a reduced sentence even if you lose the appeal and cannot avoid jail time.
It's important to hire an attorney if you don't have one already. DUI attorneys can help you avoid jail or minimize the amount of time you spend in jail. They also know all the nuances of DUI law and can help you appeal a conviction. Don't try to go it alone if you are facing a DUI conviction; allow an attorney to help you.
The Law Offices of G. Cole Kasey: San Diego DUI Jail Sentence Alternatives
Century Council: Drunk Driving Fatalities - National Statistics