A common sentence for DUI convictions in California is probation. However, probation is not the same for all cases under California law. You should not assume you will receive the same probation terms as someone else. Instead, you need to contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney as soon as possible to discuss your DUI case. You could face jail time and probation for a drunk driving conviction.
What Does Informal Probation DUI Mean in California?
Most people convicted of misdemeanor DUI offenses in California are placed on informal probation, also known as summary probation. Informal probation for misdemeanor offenses does not require you to meet regularly with a probation officer.
Instead, the judge sets the terms and conditions of probation. The court expects you to complete each of the probation requirements by the deadline. The court can set future hearing dates for you to appear to provide proof of completing various probation terms.
Does Everyone With a DUI Get Informal Probation?
Probation is a typical DUI sentence for all types of drunk driving offenses. Whether you receive informal or formal probation depends on the DUI charges and facts of your case.
Many counties in California impose informal or summary probation for misdemeanor DUIs, unless there are aggravating circumstances involved in the case. However, a few counties impose formal probation, even for first-time DUI convictions.
To avoid probation, you need to contact experienced California criminal defense attorneys immediately to discuss ways to fight DUI charges.
How Long is Informal Probation After DUI in California?
Drivers convicted of DUI in California can be sentenced to three to five years of DUI probation. The duration of your probation depends on your criminal record, the specific DUI offense, whether there were aggravating factors, and the county in which you are sentenced.
How Long is California Probation for a First DUI Conviction?
Again, the length of your probation depends on numerous factors. However, many courts throughout California impose a one to three-year summary probation term for first-time DUI convictions.
If there are no aggravating circumstances, you cooperated with the officers, and you appear remorseful, the judge might impose the least amount of probation (one year). An experienced California DUI defense lawyer can usually give you an idea of the typical summary probation terms for first-time DUI convictions in your county.
California DUI Probation – How It Works
Summary probation or informal probation is unsupervised. The court does not assign a probation officer you must meet with periodically throughout your probation period. Even though you do not meet with a probation officer, it does not mean the court does not monitor your case. If the judge assigns terms of probation that require you to meet deadlines, the court monitors those deadlines. Failing to meet the deadlines could result in a probation violation and bench warrant.
Throughout your probation period, you must follow specific rules to “terms” of probation. There are general probation rules that apply to all individuals on probation. There are also probation rules that apply in DUI cases. In addition, a judge might order specific rules based on the facts of your case.
What Are the Conditions of Probation in a DUI Case?
The general and specific terms of probation in a DUI case include, but are not limited to:
- Refraining from committing any additional criminal offenses while on probation
- Submit to chemical tests if arrested on DUI charges, including blood tests and breath tests
- Submit to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test if stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence (breathalyzer or cheek swab test)
- Refraining from driving with any measurable amount of alcohol or drugs in your system
- Payment of restitution to accident victims
- Complete community service
- Attend a DUI program
- Participate in a drug and/or alcohol treatment program
- Attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings
- Pay fines and court costs
- Submit to random drug and/or alcohol testing
Some judges make refraining from consuming alcoholic beverages a condition of probation. Therefore, if you fail a drug and/or alcohol test during probation, the court might charge you with violating probation. It is crucial that you read the entire list of probation requirements to ensure you understand your responsibilities and probation requirements.
Probation Is Often a Component of a Sentence for DUI
Judges may sentence people to probation instead of serving a jail term. If so, the person can avoid going to jail for DUI by completing their probation term.
However, the judge often imposes other DUI penalties as part of the sentence. Other penalties for a DUI arrest in California include, but might not be limited to:
- County jail time, which could be suspended if you complete your probation term
- Fines and assessments totaling thousands of dollars
- Complete the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s DUI School
- Suspended driver’s license
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in all vehicles you own
- Designation as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO)
- A strike against you under California’s Three Strikes Law (for felony DUI convictions)
- Revocation of driving privileges
The sentence for driving under the influence depends on your criminal record, prior DUI history, aggravating factors, and the circumstances of your arrest.
DUIs are priorable offenses in California. For prior DUI convictions within a 10-year period, the sentence increases in severity. A felony DUI conviction counts as a priorable offense, regardless of the date of the conviction.
Does Informal Probation Go On Your Record?
Your DUI case file contains the specifics of your DUI probation. However, your official criminal record should only contain the date of your arrest and conviction for drunk driving.
However, if you violate the terms of probation, a probation violation becomes part of your criminal record if you are convicted.
DUI Informal Probation Violations
If you violate the terms of informal DUI probation, the judge might:
- Revoke probation and require you to serve your original county jail sentence
- Reinstate informal probation, but lengthen the duration of the probation period
- Add more terms and requirements to probation
A judge could sentence you to other criminal penalties for a violating the terms of your probation. Police officers can pick you up on a probation violation with or without an arrest warrant.
Formal Probation Is an Involved Process for the Individual and Entails Regular Visits With a Probation officer
Formal probation or supervised probation is different. Typically, formal probation is granted in felony DUI cases. Therefore, it is often referred to as “felony probation.” The probation term begins after your release from prison. The term for formal probation is typically three to five years.
With formal DUI probation, you must meet with a probation officer. You could be arrested if you miss a meeting with your probation officer. Your probation officer monitors your progress in completing the terms of probation. You must meet the deadlines set by the probation officer. In addition, your probation officer might conduct random drug and/or alcohol tests. The terms of formal probation might be much stricter than the terms of informal probation.
DUI FAQs About Informal Probation
Our Los Angeles DUI attorneys answer numerous questions about California DUI probation. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the terms of DUI probation.
What Is California’s Zero-Tolerance Law?
California Vehicle Code Section §23154 makes it unlawful for anyone on probation for DUI to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or higher. In other words, any measurable amount of alcohol in your system while driving during probation is against the law.
The implied consent section of this statute states that a person on DUI probation is deemed to have given their consent to preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) tests and other chemical tests for BAC levels. Therefore, you cannot refuse a breathalyzer, cheek swab, blood test, or breath test before or after a DUI arrest without penalty.
When Is An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Required?
Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) prevent a vehicle from starting unless the driver provides an alcohol-free breath sample. After a DUI conviction, an IID might be required to obtain a restricted driver’s license. A judge might order the defendant to install an IID if the defendant had a high BAC level (above .15%), had prior impaired driving convictions, or refused to take a chemical test as conditions of probation.
The installation period for an IID depends on several factors, including your driving history and whether you injured someone while driving under the influence. If you are driving with a suspended license after a DUI, the judge might require an IID for one to three years after you reinstate your driving privileges.
Are There Driving Restrictions While On DUI Probation?
A person on probation for DUI cannot operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol or drugs in their system. They are not permitted to commit other crimes while on probation. Therefore, driving without a valid license or automobile insurance would be considered a probation violation because those actions are against the law. In addition to punishment for violating probation, the person may also face penalties for the additional criminal offense.
What Is Alternative Sentencing?
Instead of imposing a jail sentence, a judge might give the defendant probation, including alternative sentencing. For example, alternative sentencing might include community service, Cal-Trans roadside work, house arrest, or electronic alcohol monitoring with a SCRAM device.
Am I Required To Attend Special Classes Or Programs?
Probation terms often include attendance at one or more DUI programs or classes. For example, the judge might require you to attend MADD’s Victim Impact Panel or the Hospital and Morgue Program.
You may also be required to attend counseling and/or substance abuse treatment programs. Probation requirements might also include attending AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings. California DUI school is often included in a DUI sentence, which could require 12 hours to 30 months of DUI school.
Do I Have To Show Proof Of Compliance To The Court?
Yes, you must provide proof that you completed each of the probation requirements. That includes attending classes, completing treatment programs, paying restitution, installing an IID in your vehicle, etc. Failing to provide proof of compliance with probation terms by the deadlines set by the court could result in a violation of probation and a bench warrant for your arrest.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney for a Free Consultation
Were you arrested for driving under the influence in California? If so, contact our Los Angeles DUI lawyers for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you fight DUI charges.
Talk To A DUI Defense Attorney
An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you. A lawyer serving DUI clients will often offer a free no obligation consultation and everything discussed is protected by the attorney client relationship.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California DUI attorneys here.
Interested in this topic, or other topics similar to it? Find more articles on our blog, updated regularly!