If you have been accused of a DUI in California, and subsequently convicted, there is a good chance that you will receive DUI probation for a period determined by the court. This is a method of keeping the convicted defendant out of jail, provided they agree to and abide by the terms of their probation.
In most cases, this means not only will the defendant need to pay all of the fines, fees, and costs associated with their conviction, but they will need to fulfill extra conditions as well. Sometimes this means attending DUI school, agreeing not to drive at all while they have any detectable blood alcohol content, and even having an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. The most common probationary period in California is three years.
These conditions have to be followed and obeyed or the defendant may be at risk of violating probation. If you are found to have violated the terms of your probation, the judge presiding over your case can immediately withdraw their previous decision and implement the full penalties including imprisonment. There is a lot to be informed about if you have been assigned DUI probation.
Common DUI Probation Conditions
While each case will be unique in the circumstances and penalties, there are many commonalities in the final sentencing of each DUI case. In most cases, the biggest factor in the fines will be how many prior DUI offenses the defendant has been convicted of. Some penalties are levied regardless of how many other convictions the individual has gotten in the past.
The minimum punitive fine for a DUI will depend on the county where the offense occurred, but usually, it will be between $400 and $1000. Once the court costs and other penalties are added, it’s not uncommon to see the total financial burden become several thousand dollars.
There is often a mandatory suspension of driving privileges for at least 6 months, but depending on the offense it can last as long as 48 months. After a waiting period, the defendant can often get a restricted license to allow them to continue driving to work or school, or any other court-approved destination. Another potential option is an ignition interlock device that may remove some of the other driving restrictions.
The defendant will also usually be required to attend mandatory alcohol education programs, known as DUI school, and may also be required to seek treatment. Another potential penalty is having to spend a predetermined time in county jail, usually measured in individual days.
Probationary terms applied to all DUI convictions will include 3-5 years of summary probation, which will not generally require working with a probation officer. Agreeing not to commit any other offenses while on probation. Agreeing to automatically submit to breathalyzer or blood analysis if suspected of drunk driving, and not driving with any detectable level of alcohol in their system.
Being Ordered to Use an Ignition Interlock Device
There are some cases where the driver may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed to operate their vehicle. Common reasons the ignition interlock device may be required include:
- Having a history of at least one other DUI conviction
- Wanting to continue to drive during the period in which the license would be suspended
- Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test
- Being arrested with a blood alcohol content of .15% or more
The duration that the device will need to remain installed on the defendant’s vehicle will vary from 4 to 48 months, depending on how many prior “wet” convictions the individual has had in the past and whether the convictions were for DUI or DUI causing injury.
Offenses That Can Violate Your Probation
Since every DUI conviction comes with the condition or requirement that the defendant not commit any other crimes while on probation, some common offenses are often responsible for the individual’s probation violation. The most common ones are those related to the defendant continuing to drive even when prohibited from such.
There are offenses such as driving without a license, as well as driving without valid insurance that can result in an immediate determination of probation violation. One of the most common and most serious offenses that someone can commit right after a DUI is a violation of California VEH 14601.2, which is driving on a license that has already been suspended due to a DUI.
Driving on a license that has been suspended for DUI is a serious crime and carries stiff penalties. It is not only an offense that carries mandatory jail times and significant fines but it is also known as what’s called a “priorable” offense. Priorable offenses have penalties that grow more severe with each additional conviction. This is particularly dangerous for those with multiple DUIs, who keep driving on the license that the DMV has suspended, and keep getting more dangerous the more often they’re caught.
Sentencing Alternatives to Imprisonment
Instead of sending the defendant to jail, in many cases, the judge will agree to impose alternative sentencing, particularly if you have a skilled attorney that is representing you. Rather than send you to jail, you may only have to participate in community service, roadside work, alcohol monitoring, or other programs.
Programs Often Required as DUI Probation Terms
In many cases, the judge presiding over the DUI conviction will order that the defendant attend other beneficial and preventative programs. They may be used when there is clear addiction, or even in cases with younger first-time offenders that may just need to be “scared straight”
Attending AA meetings will generally be required of anyone who may be battling alcohol addiction. The defendant may be required to attend even lacking addiction and must get attendance forms signed by the person running the meetings.
In most DUI convictions, the defendant will be required to attend DUI school. They can be as short as a 12-hour program, and in some cases, as long as 30 months, and while enrolled the defendant must refrain from using any alcohol or drugs. Upon completion, they will be able to show the court proof of completion.
Victim Impact Panel
A victim impact panel, or VIP, is often run by organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and will have the defendant be presented with a speech, videos, and even slideshows about the damage drunk driving can have on individuals and families. They generally last only a few hours and are another option for first-time offenders.
Hospital & Morgue Program
A special program run in Los Angeles County called the Hospital and Morgue Program (HAM) will sometimes be available to first-time offenders. They will be required to spend 4 hours in an ER and 4 hours in a morgue, witnessing the damage done by drunk drivers, first-hand. While in the morgue they will watch bodies of drunk driving victims be photographed, processed, and autopsied, and following the completion of the program they may be required to write an essay regarding their experience.
Proving Your Compliance
Once you enroll in any court-ordered classes or programs, you will often receive paperwork to prove you have started them. In some cases, the programs will automatically notify the courts, but this is not guaranteed. Once you finish the programs you will also receive proof of completion, which you will need to show the judge to have the requirement shown as fulfilled.
This can even be receipts for payment of fines or restitution. Failing to show you followed the court’s orders can result in an arrest warrant being issued for you. This applies to any post-conviction appearances or programs.
Have You Been Accused or Convicted of a DUI in California?
If you or someone you care about has been accused or convicted of a DUI offense in California, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your rights is to work with an experienced local attorney. While they may not be able to get your conviction reversed, they can help protect your rights while on probation and can be your representative in any hearings or subsequent court dates you have regarding your conviction.