Prison time for DUI

This lady called me about a landscape project she wanted done. While there she asked if I was interested in any of her husband’s construction equipment. She was selling it because he was just sentenced to 5 years in person for DUI and she was not going to allow him back in their home even when he eventually gets out. She did mention that he didn’t hurt (or kill) anyone.

I was just kinda shocked by what she had said and neglected to ask how many DUI’s he had had.

Does anyone know how many DUI’s this guy probably had to get a five year prison sentence in California?

The maximum penalty (jail not prison) for 2 DUIs is 1 year, so 3+ or someone was hurt.

And the minimum is 96 hours, so you’ve got to really screw up or piss off a judge to get the max.

Edit: 3 offenses is still 1 year it looks like.

A quick Google search indicates that California treats DUI as misdemeanor offense. There is no prison term of five years unless there is injury or death, in which case they prosecute as vehicular manslaughter. There is probation, however, and that can go up to five years.

He must have had a lot of them plus some extra factors. I can’t find anything that lists sentences that high for plain DUI’s in California. The closest I could come up with is:

"Fourth Offense (or more)
If this is your fourth DUI offense ever—not just in the last 10 years—you will face a sentence in a state prison, not a local jail. This will include:

Minimum 16 months in prison
Up to 3 years in prison"

Maybe he got an aggravated DUI with an extremely high BAC or he could have done something like try to flee or resist arrest on top of it. There is no way to know for sure without looking up his case. In any event, he did something really exceptional to earn that much time.

I’m guessing he did hurt someone and his wife is 1) unaware or 2) uncomfortable sharing that with the OP.

Untrue. 3 or fewer DUIs are generally treated as misdemeanors in CA, but if you’ve racked up 3 past DUIs in less than 10 years, your 4th et cetera, DUIs are now felonies even if there is no injury or death or other intensifier.

That’s pretty standard these days thruout all 50 states, WI being the last holdout (it wasn’t a felony there until the 5th DUI) until about a year ago.

And most states escalate the time in prison with each subsequent felony DUI also. CA included, from what I’ve seen. DAs there are asking 5 years for the 5th DUI in some cases.

Could a felony DUI count as a third strike in a 3-strikes state?

Are you sure it was five years prison and not five years probation? Because a third DUI often will carry the latter, and I’ve met plenty of people that confuse the two.

But my quick skim of my guidebook agrees with Shagnasty, the highest you can go is 3 years for a felony DUI, only going above that if there’s enhancements for injury or death.

I suppose it’s also possible he picked up a few back-to-back and the judge gave him consecutive sentences.

For California at least, the answer is yes, if there’s great bodily injury or the vehicle was used as a deadly weapon.

I’m sure she said “prison”. That’s why she was selling off his equipment.

Maybe he did hurt someone or she’s just exaggerating.

Even if he got 5 years, wouldn’t he be out in 2 and a half with good behavior?

I kinda felt bad for him the way she was selling off his construction equipment, but he should have gotten some help to stop his drinking.

Could there have been other charges involved as well? Driving on a license already suspended or revoked for DUI? Maybe drugs or weapons found in the car? Or, even showing up intoxicated in court?
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Is it possible that his offences & punishment weren’t under California law? Maybe she moved after he got tossed in jail/prison.

Which would also point to why his wife was selling off his livelihood and not letting him back in the house. I would be willing to bet the prison sentence was the latest event in a long, sad history and she had finally given up on salvaging him.*

I had a girlfriend who’d been married for a short period years before I came on the scene. He’d hidden his taste for alcohol well and she found out to her shock he was some $8,000 in debt to the local liquor store. She took tight hold on the financial reins – beans and rice and no fun – and got that bailed out. When she loosened up a bit he racked up another tab to the tune of $4,000, all this in a span of eight months.

The final straw was when she was visiting some friends and chatting with them in their front yard. An ambulance came screaming up to the house next door and after a few minutes, the EMTs emerged with a guy strapped to a gurney. He was a really unhealthy-looking color and was bleeding from his nose and ears. When she asked what on earth was wrong with him, the friends replied, “Oh, he’s an alky who’s pretty much circling the drain.”

Something died in her and she said she just couldn’t bear watching “Frank” destroy himself that way; she started inquiring about divorce the next day.

*“But I love him!”
“He’s Satan, the Prince of Darkness.”
“I can still save him!”

Is she legally allowed to do that?

I was wondering about that myself. IANAL, but if he has a company, then those assets belong to the company. If he had it private and their finances were shared then probably, but, I imagine it would depend on the state.

What if he had two DUIs and the second one was during a time when he was still on probation for the first one? What if he got in more trouble for “failure to appear”? Could either of those land him in prison without having killed somebody?

She had the house up for sale as well. Maybe they had to some kind of signed agreement about their assets, but she sure seemed pissed off and seemed to be gleefully selling his equipment.

If he’d had five year’s probation, and got caught again, wouldn’t that explain it? Also, he may have signed a power of attorney over to her when he went to prison. But it’s likely that “his” company had been largely run by her for some time. It’s not uncommon to see couples where the man had construction expertise and the woman knows how to run an office and negotiate contracts. When they are both healthy and functional it’s a match made in heaven. Alcoholics who get to that point are usually no longer terribly functional.

If they were at that point, then I would assume she would just keep on running the company while he was in prison rather than just selling the equipment.

I don’t know what the law is as to estranged spouses selling each other’s stuff. But my guess is that she didn’t either, and just assumed she could do it (or at least get away with it).

ETA: not that I’m in a position to blame her either. Spouses of alcoholics can suffer a lot.

If it’s a small construction company, then he probably was the company - specifically he probably was the one who actually used the equipment on a daily basis. She can’t just run the company without hiring someone else to actually run the machines, etc, which may be way more hassle than she’s willing to deal with.

I did say quick search. I apparently missed that. Thanks for the correction.