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Why Did Kiefer Sutherland Go To Prison?

Actor Kiefer Sutherland is best known for his lead role as counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer on the hit TV series 24, but he has also made headlines over the years for his run-ins with the law. Sutherland has faced multiple drunk driving charges and served time in prison as a result. This article will examine Sutherland’s criminal history and the reasons that ultimately landed him behind bars.

Drunk Driving Charges and Sentences

2007 DUI Arrest

In September 2007, Sutherland was pulled over by police in Los Angeles and arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. His breathalyzer test came back at 0.16, twice the legal limit in California. He was charged with two misdemeanors – driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level over the state limit.

Sutherland pleaded no contest to the charges. He was sentenced to 48 days in jail, received five years probation, and was ordered to complete an alcohol education program.

2009 DUI Arrest

Less than two years later, in September 2009, Sutherland was arrested again on drunk driving charges. Police had pulled him over for making an illegal U-turn in West Los Angeles. He was given a misdemeanor DUI charge and later released on $25,000 bail.

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In October 2009, Sutherland pleaded guilty to the DUI charge. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, received three years probation, and was ordered to complete a 47-day alcohol treatment program.

Table of Crimes and Sentences

September 2007DUI, BAC over 0.0848 days jail, 5 years probation, alcohol program
September 2009DUI30 days jail, 3 years probation, 47-day alcohol treatment

Violating Probation and Final Sentence

In December 2009, prosecutors alleged that Sutherland had violated his 2007 probation by committing another DUI offense. As a result, in October 2010 he was sentenced to 180 days in jail for the probation violation.

Sutherland served 18 days of the 180-day sentence before being released early due to prison overcrowding. He went on to serve the remaining 4 days of his 30-day DUI sentence.

In total, Sutherland served 48 days in jail for the 2007 DUI, 18 days for the probation violation, and 4 days for the 2009 DUI, for a total of 70 days behind bars.

Reasons for Incarceration

There were three key factors that ultimately landed Kiefer Sutherland in jail multiple times:

Repeat DUI Offenses

Sutherland’s biggest mistake was driving under the influence on more than one occasion. His initial 2007 DUI came with a relatively lenient 48-day sentence. However, when he committed the same violation again in 2009, the courts punished him more severely for being a repeat offender. The second DUI violated his probation and led to additional jail time.

Refusing Rehab

According to prosecutors, Sutherland rejected an offer to enter a rehab program after his first DUI arrest. If he had completed a treatment program, he may have been able to avoid the second drunk driving incident and additional charges. However, Sutherland did not receive rehab until after his second DUI.

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Ignoring Probation Terms

In addition to reoffending, Sutherland violated the original terms of his 2007 probation by choosing not to complete a court-ordered alcohol education program. This probation violation is what ultimately landed him in jail for 180 days, even though he only served 18 days of that sentence.

Kiefer Sutherland’s Life After Prison

Since being released from jail in 2010, Kiefer Sutherland has largely stayed out of legal trouble. Here is an overview of his life and career after serving his drunk driving sentences:

  • Completed probation requirements mandated by the courts
  • Continued acting, appearing in films like Melancholia (2011) and TV shows like Touch (2012-2013)
  • Starred in ABC drama Designated Survivor (2016-2019)
  • Reunited with 24 producers to revive Jack Bauer character in new series 24: Live Another Day (2014)
  • Released second country music album Down in a Hole in 2016
  • Engaged in multiple live concert tours to promote his country music
  • Currently starring in ABC drama Big Sky (2020-present)

While Sutherland made poor choices that landed him in legal trouble, he has moved forward with his acting career and music pursuits after serving his time. He has expressed regret over the DUIs and now uses his experience to urge others not to drink and drive.

How many times was Kiefer Sutherland arrested for DUI?

Kiefer Sutherland was arrested for DUI twice – in September 2007 and again in September 2009.

What was Kiefer Sutherland actually charged with?

For the 2007 DUI, Sutherland was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level over 0.08. For the 2009 DUI, he was charged with a misdemeanor DUI. He also later faced a charge of violating his probation from the 2007 offense.

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How much total time did he serve in jail?

In total, Sutherland served 70 days in jail – 48 days for the first DUI, 18 days for the probation violation, and 4 days for the second DUI charge.

Where did Kiefer Sutherland serve his jail time?

Sutherland served his time at the Glendale City Jail in California.

Did Kiefer Sutherland do jail time for both DUI charges?

Yes, Sutherland served 48 days for his first DUI arrest and 4 days for his second DUI. The remaining 18 days were for violating his probation from the first offense.


Kiefer Sutherland is a cautionary tale of the consequences of driving under the influence. His repeat DUI offenses demonstrate the heightened penalties for those who commit the same crime more than once. Jail time could have been avoided if Sutherland had accepted alcohol rehabilitation after his first arrest. However, the actor served multiple sentences for drunk driving and probation violations, totaling 70 days behind bars.

Sutherland has moved on from his days in jail and reshaped his career and public image. However, his DUI history stands as a reminder that we all must make responsible choices and face the repercussions of our actions. Kiefer Sutherland’s prison sentences reflect the legal system’s lack of tolerance for repeat drunk driving, especially by public figures who should serve as role models. The next time someone considers getting behind the wheel while impaired, Sutherland’s experience proves it’s never worth the risk.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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