Most people who are convicted under California’s DUI laws will receive probation. One of the most common questions I get from my clients during DUI sentencing is, “What does probation consist of?”
Generally speaking, probation is supervision for a specified period of time, during which a person must satisfy specific conditions. Probation can be either formal or informal. Formal probation requires that a person periodically report to a probation officer who supervises the probationary period. Informal probation, on the other hand, is almost always given for a misdemeanor California DUI conviction and does not require a person to report to a probation officer. Rather, a person on informal probation agrees to complete the conditions on their own and without the supervision of a probation officer.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, a person convicted of a California DUI is usually given between two and five years of informal probation. A person convicted of a California “wet-reckless” may be given two years of probation while a person who has been convicted of a second or more DUI within ten years may be given five years of probation.
During the probationary period, a person convicted of a California DUI must complete “conditions of probation.” If the person fails to complete the conditions of probation, they will be charged with a probation violation. If a person is convicted of a probation violation, the court has the authority to (although rarely does) sentence the person to the maximum allowable punishment by law for a DUI. In California, the maximum sentence when probation is granted is six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 (not including court penalties and assessments which usually quadruple the amount).
So what are some of the conditions that the court requires following a California DUI conviction?
First and foremost, stay out of trouble. This means do not pick up any other convictions, either misdemeanor or felony, during the probationary period. This does not include infractions.
The court will also require that a person enroll and complete a DUI program. The length of the program can range between twelve hours and thirty months. Information on the different types of programs can be found on my last post: http://ltduiblog.wpengine.com/2014/10/06/how-long-do-you-have-to-attend-a-dui-program/
Fines ranging between $390 and $1,000 must also be paid by a certain date set by the court within the probation period. As stated above, this amount usually quadruples after the court tacks on “penalties and assessments.”
The court will order the driver’s license suspended independent of any action taken by the California DMV. The length of the suspension will range from six months to four years.
California Vehicle Code section 23154(C)(1) requires that a person on probation for DUI “who drives a motor vehicle is deemed to have given his or her consent to a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol in the person…”
California Vehicle Code section 23600 prohibits anyone who on probation for a California DUI from driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. This means that a person cannot even have a blood alcohol content level of 0.01. If a person on probation violates this law and has a blood alcohol content level of 0.04 percent or more, their probation will be revoked unless they spend at least two days in county jail.
The court may also order the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) as a condition of probation. Some counties, including Los Angeles, require an IID be installed on any vehicle to be driven by the person on probation.
If the case involves aggravating facts such as a high BAC or an accident, the court may require the person to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel, or a Hospital and Morgue Program.