Shasta County DA: Multiple DUIs won't land you in prison

RED BLUFF, Calif. - Law enforcement agencies spend a lot of time and money putting away impaired drivers but due to prison realignment many of them end up driving again.

Christian James Hughes is currently facing DUI charges in Shasta County for his fifth DUI in the last ten years.

Shasta County Deputy District Attorney Toby Powell said the reason Hughes isn't going to prison is because there isn't enough room to hold Hughes due to the prison realignment.

The Shasta County District Attorney's Office said DUI charges vary.

A first DUI charge is considered a misdemeanor which can lead to a sentence up to six months in jail. The driver is usually placed on three years probation along with six months of DUI school and a suspended license.

Three convictions or more within ten years is a felony. At this point the driver's license can be suspended for three years. And because of prison realignment they can't be sent to state prison.

Time in a county jail also varies depending on the number of offenses. The first offense is 48 hours. The second offense is ten days. The third conviction 120 days and the fourth, 180 days.

"Seeing the same person come out and be the same violator does get frustrating. Hopefully some of those new programs that they are implementing like the ignition interlock devices become more consistent as far as sentencing and that would help cut down on the repeat offenders," said CHP Officer Matthew Thompson.

An interlock device is a mechanism like a breathalyzer, installed on a vehicle's ignition, that prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver is impaired.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is fighting to make interlock devices required in all counties and states.

A CHP spokesperson said DUI charges vary from case to case and they said that many of those arrested are repeat offenders.

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