Drunk Driving — How Much Time Can I Expect to Serve in Jail?

When you’re facing drunk driving charges, your mind probably wonders to how long you might serve in jail for the offense. This is a fair question. Although it’s not easy to answer there are certain factors that make jail time more or less likely. As Traverse City drunk driving lawyers and Leelanau drunk driving lawyers, we know that no two cases are alike. However, here are some things that might make jail time more or less likely in your case:

Things that might bring you more jail time:

A repeat offense

A first offense is punishable by up to 93 days in jail. If you’re facing a second charge within seven years, that jumps up to one year. If you face a third charge anytime in your lifetime, you face a felony punishable by several years in jail.

A high blood alcohol level

For a first offense, if your alcohol level is very high, you face extra jail time. The maximum amount of time that you can serve is up to six months if you have a bodily alcohol level of approximately double the legal limit. In these types of cases, the court is more likely to believe that you have an alcohol problem, which makes jail more likely.

A long criminal history

If you have prior offenses on your criminal record, the court might be more likely to put you in jail. This is especially the case if you have prior driving related offenses. The courts often see repeat criminal offenses as cause for concern. They think time in jail might change your behavior.

A crash or other injuries

If someone’s severely hurt or killed because of your drunk driving, you face serious felony charges. It’s very important that you address these serious charges with a Leelanau OWI lawyer. For only minor crashes, the law makes no significant distinction between a drunk driving crash without a crash and a drunk driving crash with minor injuries. However, that doesn’t mean that judges don’t see a difference. If your behavior causes a car accident, it’s more likely that a judge is going to include jail time in your sentence.

Failed probation

Probation is an alternative to jail. If you’re on probation and you violate the terms of your probation, you can expect to serve some time in jail. In some cases, the judge will order you to serve the rest of the possible maximum sentence. Our Leelanau criminal attorneys can help you address a probation violation as well as any new criminal charges against you.

Things that may give you less jail time:

Recovery court

Participation in recovery court is likely to reduce jail time. In this case, the court is likely to see your participation in recovery court as a positive sign that you’re taking the case seriously. Recovery court is the land of second chances, and you’ll likely serve less time in jail if you agree to participate. Your drunk driving attorney Leelanau or drunk driving attorney Traverse City can help you determine if recovery court is the best option for you.

Sincere apologies

When you’re sentenced, the court wants to hear that you’re sorry. They also want to hear that you mean it. If not, they might decide that you need jail time to teach you a lesson. You’re less likely to serve significant time in jail if you can offer true insights to the court about your mistakes and your plans to change your behavior.

No criminal history

While having prior drunk driving offenses makes it more likely that you’re going to serve time in jail, having no criminal history at all can make it less likely that you serve jail time. Your Leelanau drunk driving attorney can help you put your best foot forward at your sentencing hearing.

So how much time will I serve?

A first offender with no criminal history and no aggravating circumstances can serve as little as a day in jail. In some cases, the judge will just give you credit for the day or two that you served when you were immediately arrested. Some judges want to see everyone convicted of drunk driving serve a few days in jail, but for a first offense, you might not see any more than a day or two in jail.

If there’s a crash in your case, a high blood alcohol level, or a repeat offense, you can expect to serve significant time in jail. You should be prepared to ask for work release so that you can continue to work. This might range from about a week up through a month or two or even more. If you’re facing a felony drunk driving conviction, you can expect to measure your term in jail by a matter of months.

What can I do?

If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, please contact our Leelanau drunk driving attorneys and Traverse City drunk driving lawyers to talk about your case. There are things that we can do in your case in order to address your case with a goal of minimizing time in jail. Our Leelanau criminal defense lawyers and Traverse City criminal defense lawyers can look at the specifics of your case and give you an idea of what type of jail term to expect if you’re convicted.

If you’re facing a criminal charge in Leelanau, Grand Traverse or anywhere in Northern Michigan, please contact us. Our team serves clients in Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Cadillac, Antrim, Wexford, Benzie, Manistee and more.

Please call us at (231) 486-6366 to talk about your case.