A DUI in Washington is a gross misdemeanor meaning that it is punishable by up to 365 days in jail. Only in the most extreme cases is one actually sentenced to that amount. There are, however, mandatory minimum jail sentences that must be given if a person is convicted for DUI. That mandatory time is based upon a combination of a person’s DUI history as well as the level of their breath test or whether they refused to take a breath test. See Washington DUI Sentencing Grid. In those cases, with very few exceptions, jail must be served as part of the DUI sentence.
Over the years, primarily due to budget cuts, jail alternatives have slowly fallen by the way side. Many counties used to operate non “jail” alternatives to satisfy jail requirements. Whether it was Snohomish County’s DUI “jail” set up at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds or King County’s North Rehabilitation Facility (NRF) most counties have scrapped these programs in favor of booking people straight into county or city jails.
We have done a study of many of the jails in Western Washington. This study is based both upon our professional experience as well as visits to the various facilities. The information is important for a number of reasons, not least of which is that a person, in most instances, is free to choose the jail in which he or she wishes to serve the sentence. Before making that choice, compare the jails we have listed in this site or any others that may be a viable option. There are significant differences among the jail facilities. This section is designed to assist a person make the decision which jail to choose.. If you already have an attorney, make sure to review these factors with your lawyer. If not, feel free to contact us for more information.
CHOOSING A WASHINGTON DUI JAIL
Most defendants of a DUI charge, and even many attorneys, aren’t aware of the fact that most courts will allow someone convicted of DUI to choose the jail in which they would prefer to serve their sentence. This is important as not all jails are created equal. There can be vast differences in terms of newness, cleanliness, and personal safety. Not all jails offer the same opportunities, such as work release during lengthier jail stays. And on a more subjective level, the way jail staff and corrections officers treat detainees and the personal intrusions to their privacy differ greatly as well. Knowing these differences so that the appropriate jail can be chosen at the time of sentencing is of paramount importance. Otherwise the sentence will simply be to serve the jail at the particular facility associated with the sentencing court. And that outcome, much more often than not, is not what is in the best interests of the defendant/client. Factors to consider when determining which jail to choose include:
For short term sentences, usually those less than five days, the availability of work release is generally not an issue as jails that provide that option only do so for longer jail stays. Jails that provide work release will allow an inmate who qualifies to leave the jail facility during the day for work or education reasons and then return at the end of the day. Not all jails have the capability to provide work release as an option. Those that do will differ in terms of cost, qualification, and terms. Anyone facing a jail sentence of greater than a couple days and who will need to continue working during that period of time will want to research the available options.
EARNED EARLY RELEASE or “GOOD TIME CREDIT”
Earned early release for good behavior is born from the concept that to encourage those who are in jail to behave appropriately and follow jail rules, an incentive should be given. That incentive is to allow a certain number of days to be subtracted from the sentence for good behavior over a specified period of days. In Washington, particularly with DUI sentences, the ratio is two to one (2-1). That means for every two days of good behavior, the jail will subtract one day of the sentence. Thus a 15 day sentence would be served in 10, a 30 day sentence in 20 and so on. Earned early release or “good time credit” is at the sole discretion of the jail as are the good time policies. While most jails allow 2-1 credit, it is certainly a factor to consider and research in advance.
PERSONAL SAFETY AND WELL-BEING
What type of offender is generally housed at a particular facility? How crowded is the facility? How many inmates share a cell? What type of personal intrusions can one expect from the jail staff? How old is the jail? What is the general level of cleanliness? What is expected from inmates in terms of behavior and what programs are available during the jail stay? These questions likely constitute the most important factors for most people when determining which jail to request of the sentencing court. Make sure these questions are answered before you decide as some jails are much more intrusive and uncomfortable as are others.
Another factor to consider in choosing a jail, though maybe not the most important, is cost. The jurisdictions that will allow a choice in the jail in which to serve the sentence will do so only if the defendant bears the cost of the jail commitment. If the defendant serves his or her time in the jail of the courts choosing, there usually is no monetary cost associated with that choice.
Over time we will add brief synopses of the jails in Western Washington and how they stack up compared with one another in terms of the factors above. In the meantime, or if you simply have questions regarding jail, feel free to contact the DUI lawyers at Milios Defense for a consultation.