Can I Have my Probation Terminated Early After a California DUI?

Yes, California laws give judges the authority to “revoke, modify, or change” an order for probation at any time. In some cases, a judge might also reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor and expunge the charges from a person’s criminal record. 

You must petition the court requesting early termination of probation after a DUI conviction. It is not automatic. In most cases, you want an experienced California DUI defense attorney to file a motion with the court on your behalf to have your probation terminated early. 

California criminal defense lawyers understand the requirements for early termination of probation. An attorney also understands how to create a compelling argument that you deserve early termination of probation after a drunk driving conviction. 

Petitioning the court is just the first step in the process. Next, you must convince the judge that your good conduct justifies an order termination probation early. Let’s discuss the process of requesting early termination of probation after a DUI in more detail. 

What Is the Process to Have My Probation Terminated Early After a DUI in California?

The authority for courts to grant early termination of probation is found in Penal Code Section 1203.3 PC. Terminating your probation begins with filing a motion for early termination with the court and the prosecutor’s office. You must file the motion at least two days before a requested hearing date.

Generally, your California DUI attorney discusses your desire to end your period of probation early with the prosecutor who handled your case. Your attorney explains why you want to terminate probation early. He also explains the reasons why you deserve an early termination of probation.

The goal of discussing the matter with the prosecutor before filing the motion is to get the prosecutor’s agreement to support the motion. If the prosecutor cannot agree to support your motion, the second best thing would be for the prosecutor to agree not to oppose the motion. 

At the hearing on your motion, your California DUI lawyer explains why the court should grant the motion. He argues that your good conduct and reform justify an order termination DUI probation early. The goal is to convince the judge that you are an upstanding citizen and ending your DUI probation serves the interest of justice.

The court might not require you to attend the hearing. However, attendance at your hearing to terminate probation early may be in your best interest. It shows the court that you respect the court’s time enough to show up. However, discuss this matter with your lawyer before the hearing. There could be instances where your appearance would hurt your chances of early termination of probation.

What Does the Court Consider When Deciding Whether to Grant Early Termination of DUI Probation?

Penal Code §1203.3 allows a judge to terminate DUI probation at any time during the term of probation. However, many judges only terminate probation early if you have completed at least one year of probation if convicted of a misdemeanor. In addition, for felony offenses, many judges only grant motions for early termination of probation after you have been on probation for at least 18 months.

However, the law gives judges the ability to terminate probation at any time within their discretion. Therefore, your attorney may make a case that your situation justifies earlier probation termination. The facts and circumstances of your situation and what the judge believes will serve justice dictate the outcome of your hearing.

Judges terminate probation when a person’s “good conduct and reform” justify granting the motion for early termination. Each judge must decide what qualifies as good conduct and reform. However, some things that judges consider include, but might not be limited to:

  • Your criminal background
  • The criminal offense that resulted in formal probation or summary probation
  • Whether probation is causing undue hardship for your
  • The opinion of the district attorney’s office
  • The conditions of probation

When considering the terms of your probation, most judges require that you successfully complete all requirements of probation before they terminate DUI probation. That would include, but not be limited to:

  • Performing required community service
  • Payment of fines and assessments
  • Completing the payment of restitution to victims
  • Completing required counseling sessions
  • Finishing court-mandated alcohol and/or drug treatment programs
  • Installing and using an ignition interlock device (IID) as required by the court
  • Finishing DUI school
  • Attending MADD or other programs as required by the court

In other words, you need to complete each requirement and condition of probation before a judge grants an early termination. However, as stated above, there could be extenuating circumstances. You need to talk with a lawyer if you believe you deserve an early probation termination, but you have not completed all conditions of probation.

In some cases, judges consider situations of undue hardship created by being on probation for driving under the influence. For example, you cannot qualify for a student loan or a home loan because of your DUI probation. Your probation might prevent you from obtaining steady employment or qualifying for a professional license. Judges consider each case on the merits and facts specific to that case.

What Are the Benefits of Seeking Early Termination of Probation After a DUI Conviction?

Seeking early termination of DUI probation may appear to be a worthless endeavor unless the probation is causing you hardship. However, a benefit of terminating DUI probation early is avoiding the risk of violating probation.

A probation violation may occur if you are stopped for driving under the influence. Most DUI probation terms include abstaining from driving under the influence and agreement to take a roadside breathalyzer test if the police pull you over for a DUI stop.

A probation violation charge is serious. Even if you beat the new DUI charge or other criminal charges, the judge can sentence you to prison or jail for violating probation. The sentence may be up to the maximum for the DUI charge. You are not entitled to a jury trial for violating probation. Even if you are not sentenced to jail, the judge could modify the terms of your DUI probation by adding new, harsher terms and lengthening the probation term. 

Another benefit of early termination of DUI probation is that you can petition the court for DUI expungement. Even though the DUI arrest remains on your record, the conviction is removed, and the court dismisses the original case. Employers, landlords, colleges, and other parties may not view a DUI dismissal as harshly as a DUI conviction. 

Does the Court Expunge My DUI Conviction if It Grants Early Probation Termination?

It is possible for your DUI to be expunged when the court terminates your DUI probation early under California Penal Code §1203.4. In addition, if you were charged with a felony wobbler offense, the judge may also reduce the DUI offense to a misdemeanor. 

Generally, DUI convictions can be expunged if you meet the following criteria:

  • A state court heard your case and issued the conviction 
  • The judge did not sentence you to serve time in state prison
  • You did not violate any terms of your probation 
  • You are not currently charged with a crime, serving time for another crime, or on probation because of another criminal conviction
  • It has been one year or longer since your DUI conviction, or you completed probation
  • You met all the terms of your probation and DUI sentence

When the judge grants an early termination of probation, your probation is complete. Therefore, the court should expunge your DUI conviction if you meet all other criteria.

Ask your California DUI defense lawyer about filing a motion for expungement and reduced sentence when filing a motion to terminate probation early. 

What Should I Do if a Police Officer Stops Me for Driving Under the Influence in California? 

You can avoid DUI probation by having drunk driving charges dismissed. A California DUI defense attorney can help you fight DUI charges.

Some important things to remember that can help your beat charges of driving under the influence include, but are not limited to:

  • You are not required to take field sobriety tests or a pre-arrest breath test if you are not on probation 
  • California’s implied consent laws require you to take a chemical test after a DUI arrest or face losing your driving privileges and enhanced penalties for a DUI conviction
  • You are not required to answer questions from the police about whether you have been drinking or where you have been 
  • You have the right to remain silent and have legal counsel
  • There could be several DUI defenses, including lack of probable causes, chemical test inaccuracies, and police officer misconduct and errors

Contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. The sooner a lawyer begins working on your case, the better it is for your DUI defense. 

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