Alternative Sentencing in DUI Cases

Lawyer Handling Drunk Driving Charges in Phoenix

Arizona prosecutors treat driving under the influence (DUI) cases seriously. Courts can impose harsh punishments after a DUI conviction with sentences typically including both jail time and monetary fines. The severity of the sentence will depend on the particular DUI offense. However, judges allow for alternative sentencing in DUI cases, under which defendants may be eligible to serve time at home provided that they wear a monitoring ankle bracelet and participate in an alcohol treatment program. Some may even maintain their job through a work release option. If you have been charged with drunk or drugged driving, contact Phoenix DUI attorney James E. Novak for a consultation.

Alternative Sentencing in DUI Cases

While jail time is mandatory for DUI convictions, a 2012 bill passed by the Arizona legislature permitted the time to be pardoned or reduced using various forms of alternative sentencing. In Arizona, first-time DUI offenders are sentenced to at least 10 days in jail when their blood alcohol content is 0.085-0.15%. Nine of the ten days may be suspended when a defendant completes an alcohol or drug abuse treatment, counseling, or screening program. Accordingly, the minimum amount of time you can spend in jail for an ordinary first offense DUI is one day in jail.

Instead of jail time, courts can handle certain cases with different alternative sentencing options, including drug and alcohol treatment, community service, home detention, electronic monitoring, work release and work furlough. Longer jail sentences may be partially fulfilled through one of the alternative sentencing options. However, violent criminals and those facing charges for multiple offenses are not usually eligible for alternative sentencing.

Home Detention

One form of alternative sentencing is home detention with an ankle bracelet, along with participation in an extended alcohol treatment program. If you are offered home detention, you must attend a mandatory orientation and then get set up with a breathalyzer and GPS tracking device once you complete your jail sentence. You will need to stay in your home at all times, except for court-ordered alcohol treatment and work. You must abstain from alcohol throughout the alternative sentence. If you do not comply with the requirements of home detention, you may need to complete the rest of your sentence in jail.

Ankle Monitoring

Another sentencing option is alcohol monitoring through an ankle bracelet. Often, courts order this in conjunction with home detention. The program monitors your daily alcohol use with an ankle bracelet that records your alcohol content through your skin every half hour and uploads them to the agency. Courts may also order the wearing of a continuous alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet as a condition of probation, in place of random urine tests or other aspects of a sentence.

Work Release and Work Furlough

Another form of alternative sentencing that some courts allow include work release, which lets you go to work during the day and come back to jail at night. Work release requires a judge to set days and times of release. For a DUI offense, you will not be allowed out more than 12 hours in a day or more than five days each week.

The probation office administers the work furlough program. Your probation officer contacts your employer and visits your workplace to ensure that you are present. To participate in a work furlough program, you will be screened by your probation officer prior to sentencing and you need to meet certain requirements. You will also need to pay a daily fee. As with work release, there are restrictions on the number of hours and days you are let out to work. Certain jobs are not eligible for work furlough. Speak with an experienced DUI lawyer to see if you are eligible for work release or work furlough.

Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program

In some cases, less jail time may be imposed if you agree to participate in a substance abuse screening and an alcohol and drug treatment program. It is believed this will prevent repeat offenses. You sign an agreement with the court to participate and can be exposed to sanctions for a failure to participate once the agreement is in place.

Consult a Seasoned Attorney in Phoenix

You may not need to serve significant jail time for drunk driving. If you are interested in alternative sentencing in DUI cases, you should consult a seasoned DUI lawyer. Our principal James Novak has many years of experience representing those charged with DUIs in Phoenix along with Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.

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