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Sheriff's Department Maintains 99% Of Drunk Drivers Go To Jail; California Law Leaves The Door Open

Even if a suspected drunk driver is placed into custody and later convicted, chances are jail time will be minimal.

After The Press-Enterprise published a Feb. 6 report stating that most drunk drivers are cited and released if pulled over by officers from the Riverside Police Department, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department made a point Thursday of clarifying its protocol: “99 percent of all DUI arrestees [are booked] into jails.”

Although the sheriff’s department sends offenders to county jail, “typically DUI arrestees are only held in … custody until sober and then given court dates so they do not impact our overcrowding crisis. The jails do not release intoxicated subjects back onto the street,” said Sgt. Lisa McConnell of the sheriff’s department.

With the exception of Murrieta and part of Hemet, all Southwest Riverside County cities contract for law enforcement services through the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

The DUI/jail issue became front and center for the Riverside PD after the Feb. 3 arrest of the department’s Lt. Larry Gonzalez. According to the Feb. 6 Press-Enterprise report, Gonzalez struck a mailbox and retaining wall while allegedly driving under the influence in the city in an unmarked police vehicle. Officers from the Riverside Police Department arrested and cited him on suspicion of driving under the influence before driving him home, The Press-Enterprise reported.

McConnell said the sheriff’s department has a different policy.

“It has been the position of the Sheriff, since taking office, that members of the department arrested by our deputies for DUI are booked into our jails, just like other arrestees,” she explained.

But even if a suspected drunk driver is placed into custody and later convicted, chances are jail time will be minimal. Driving under the influence of alcohol in California is a misdemeanor crime provided there are no additional circumstances. First-time offenders (and often second- and third-time offenders) will lose their license, pay a fine, have their vehicle impounded, and be placed on probation, but extended jail time is unlikely. (See attached 2013 California Judges Benchguides.)

A conviction on a fourth DUI, and/or crashing a vehicle and/or causing injury while driving under the influence are generally considered felony crimes in the state and penalties are higher.

Click here to review the state’s DUI laws.

Brenda February 14, 2013 at 09:13 AM
***cough*** Constant, I do know one. Ahh its a private part, LOL. Figured out how to do it a long time ago!! (((blush)))
Gandhi February 15, 2013 at 01:10 AM
No big surprise for me either that the two of you have to make your sarcastic remarks aimed towards me that add NOTHING to the posting here. Wouldnt want you to actually have to read and COMPREHEND and then come up with a post that would have some relevance, god forbid!! :P
Arthur Spooner February 15, 2013 at 02:34 AM
Um how about you don't get behind the wheel when you drink! Its not rocket science!
Brenda February 15, 2013 at 08:56 AM
Good Lord in heaven Linda? Seriously? Do you think everything is about YOU? Well I hate to burst your bubble but it doesn't and my first post at the TOP, scroll up please, certainly commented on this article. Drinking and driving, Dui's, wrecks and deaths from them is something I am extremely interested in and concerned about, and more and more in our area. 1. I did post a comment for the article Toni wrote, right up top, as it is a large battle I fight. Getting longer sentences right off on DUI #1, and more severe for DUI 2, 3, and straight out murder, for the now vehicular manslaughter a drunk now gets, 2 to 4 yrs only for killing someone with his auto while drunk. If you knew squat about me like you think you do, YOU WOULD KNOW THIS. 2. I did not make any sarcastic remark to you, matter a fact NO remarks because I didn't even read your post until now. Now I know you are a drunk driver, and I am not going to berate you, cause you are not worth the time and energy, but I did figure you for a drinker right off. Also my 2nd post to CC is because of his emoticons or whatever they are called, how he makes them all. We have chased each other around alot on the Patch and I try to make them, Joke, hahaha and really not even your concern. LOL Lordie Lordie you are one strange cookie. Just ignore me, leave me alone, and stop following me around, simple. Just s t o p, its easy!
Brenda February 15, 2013 at 09:05 AM
Arthur if it was just that easy :/ If drunks were that smart, or thought about IT. We would not have people victims of drunk drivers. We would not have a drunk driver who murdered a family of 4 out of jail in 2 to 4 years for vehicular manslaugther. It should be premeditated murder. They know when they are getting ready that night they are going to drink, they are going to drive, and that as an adult they know that combination can cause an accident that will kill people. That is premeditated because everyone knows THAT kills. If we do not get harshers sentences for these drunks driving for violation #1 , 2, 3 etc. then they do not take it serious. Dui number 1, pay some fines, 2 pay some fines and go to drunk classes for 3 months, rinse and repeat. I think if people do not start taking their drinking and driving more serious and make sure they have a ride that breathalyzers need to be put in every car, not just a convicted Drunk Driver(on like Dui 4 before they get that). I also think that places that serve liquor for their own avoidance of law suits should have a breathalyzer there for anyone who argues with them when the bartender cuts off their drinks. Its treating adults like children, but if they cant grow up and drink senseably then like children and real convicts they get treated.

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