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Jail Time For California DUI

How much time a DUI defendant has to serve depends on several factors...

The question of jail time for California DUI presents judges with wide discretion.

Consider the following sentences California law allows for certain DUI convictions:

  • first time offenses: from no jail time to up to six months in a county jail;
  • second time offenses: a minimum of 96 hours to a maximum of one year in a county jail;
  • third time offenses: a minimum of 120 days to a maximum of one-year in a county jail.

Fourth time offenses and those that involve injury to another person can carry consequences that are particularly severe because they can be charged either as misdemeanors or felonies. In these cases, jail time for California DUI could be as little as 5 days in a county facility... or as much as 10 years in California State Prison.

A judge will make his or her decision in a particular case based on multiple factors. The most important are:

  1. the severity of the current offense,
  2. how many DUI convictions a defendant already has, and
  3. the severity of past offenses.

"Severity" refers to issues such as blood alcohol content and how much recklessness and/or danger the defendant's DUI driving posed to others.

Anyone wondering how jail time for California DUI may pan out in a particular case is strongly encouraged to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A careful, thorough defense can mean the difference between avoiding a jail sentence altogether... and spending a significant length of time behind bars.

Southern California DUI Defense


DUI cases are rarely hopeless. DUI convictions are almost never inevitable. Clients retain our California DUI defense attorneys for one reason: they want to fight the case. And win.

Contact Us For Help

The police arrested you for DUI. You gave a blood or a breath sample. The DUI officer confiscated you drivers license. The police released you with a notice to appear in court in a few weeks. Where do you go from here? Our lawyers are here to guide you step by step.