For years, the option of being able to serve a DUI jail sentence by way of work release was almost a certainty. When a sentence for a second or third offense could range anywhere from 30 to 120 days at a minimum, work release provided an opportunity to salvage one’s employment. There were strict rules and the opportunity was expensive but it was worth it in order to keep one’s job and ability to provide for one’s family. And unless a person was not eligible for some other reason, the opportunity to serve a DUI sentence through work release was almost always there. That has all changed, and dramatically, over the last few years.
Reductions in Work Release Options
Up until 2016, almost all county jails, and many smaller city jails provided work release as an option for those serving sentences of greater than 5-10 days. In jurisdictions where work release wasn’t available, courts would allow the defendant to serve work release in a jail where work release was an option. Even though there might be an occasional waiting period and additional expense, a person could likely count on work release. Now, these options are dwindling. Many counties, citing higher costs, no longer offer work release. Those that do often exclude participants from other jurisdictions or have other limiting criteria. The effect this has had on those facing longer jail sentences has been pronounced and lives are being seriously impacted.
Extensive home detention in lieu of jail for DUI sentences
The state legislature may have had shrinking work release options in mind when it made dramatic changes in the mandatory minimum sentencing laws in 2017. In exchange for serving am increased amount of time on home detention, the mandatory jail sentence has been reduced. For example, individuals facing a conviction for a second DUI in 7 years faced 30-45 days of jail and 60-90 days of electronic home monitoring (EHM) prior to the amendment. Now it is possible for that jail time to be reduced to between 4-6 days with the EHM being increased to 180 days. The obvious benefits to the individual have significantly reduced jail sentences and the ability to continuing working while on EHM. The downside is the greater total length of incarceration as well as the expense of paying for EHM for six months.
Some opportunities do still exist to serve DUI jail sentences on work release but they are geographically limited and those that do exist have some limiting factors. In most cases, being accepted into a work-release program will take planning a strategy. We have compiled a list of facilities that still offer work release as well as the eligibility factors those jails consider. Because of the rapidity with which changes are occurring in this area, you will want to double check this information to ensure its accuracy.