The consequences of a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) conviction can be grave – many drivers receive substantial fines, jail sentences, and license suspensions. However, many courts have developed alternative sentencing programs that give authorities greater flexibility in meting out punishment. An experienced California attorney who focuses on drunk driving defense can explain the types of alternative sentencing available in some cases.
Sentencing alternatives are typically designed to help as well as punish the driver. Alternative sentences allow DUI drivers to retain their jobs and seek treatment for alcoholism, if needed – opportunities that are rarely available in county jail.
Some sentencing alternatives will allow good time/work time custody credits. Good time/work time custody credits are hour-for-hour exchanges of alternative sentencing against the hours that would have otherwise been spent in county jail.
Some types of alternative sentencing available include community service, freeway cleanup, electronic monitoring, sober living environments, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and participation in a MADD Victim Impact program.
Other sentencing alternatives include ignition interlock devices – machines attached to vehicles which require drivers to blow into a breath detector before starting the car – and the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, or SCRAM, which measures alcohol by way of a device attached to the DUI offender’s ankle.
Another option is work furlough, which allows a DUI offender to go to work during the day and check into a dormitory-style housing facility at night. Some defendants may be eligible for work release, which allows the offender to work at an approved location and return home at night.
Some offenders are allowed to serve jail sentences at “weekend jails” at local police stations rather than county jails. Many local police departments will “rent out” their jail cells to DUI offenders overnight or for a weekend.
Because of the harsh consequences that drunk driving defendants face, alternative sentencing options can be an attractive alternative to incarceration. An experienced California DUI / DWI lawyer will review each case individually to determine whether sentencing alternatives may be available.