What Is California DUI Probation?

December 6, 2018

Complying with the terms of probation is necessary to avoid serving jail time.

What Is California DUI Probation?

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in California, you may be worried about the consequences that you will face. In particularly, you might be concerned about the possibility of going to jail. While this is a potential penalty for all California DUIs, the most likely outcome is that you will get probation rather than jail for a misdemeanor DUI offense. But what exactly is California DUI probation?

In essence, DUI probation is court supervision over a person for a specified period of time. It is offered instead of putting that person in jail or prison. However, if the person on probation fails to comply with the terms of probation, he or she may be sentenced to jail — and face an additional criminal charge for violating the terms of probation.

According to an experienced Santa Ana DUI defense lawyer, there are two types of probation available for DUI convictions: formal or informal probation. Informal, or summary, probation is ordered in all misdemeanor DUI cases. It does not require supervision by a probation officer, and is ordered for a period of 3 to 5 years, depending on the circumstances of the DUI. Felony DUI convictions may lead to formal probation, which require supervision and regular meetings with a county probation officer.

While probation is generally considered a better alternative to going to jail, there are strict requirements that a person must comply with in order to successfully complete it. A court will require a person convicted of a DUI to comply with certain conditions during the period of probation. These conditions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Not getting any new cases;
  • Not driving without a valid license;
  • Refraining from driving with any measure amount of alcohol in their system (in other words, if you are on DUI probation, there is a “zero tolerance” policy for driving under the influence. If you register any amount of alcohol in your system on a breath or blood test, you will be charged with a DUI and deemed to be in violation of your probation);
  • A requirement to submit to pre-arrest alcohol screenings (roadside breathalyzer tests) and field sobriety tests if they are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence;
  • Paying all applicable fines and fees;
    Completing a court-approved DUI course;
  • Attending a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel;
  • Completing a Hospital and Morgue Program;
  • Attending AA meetings;
  • Doing community service;
  • Doing community labor;
  • Going to jail for a short period of time; and/or
  • Complying with any other conditions the court may impose.

If your probationary period ends and you have completed all of the terms of your probation, then your probation will be over and your DUI case will be completed. In this situation, you may be eligible for expungement of your DUI case, which is a major advantage of probation over being sentenced to jail. Your Santa Ana DUI defense lawyer can work with you to determine if you are eligible for expungement of your DUI conviction. If you are, your attorney can file the necessary paperwork to start the expungement process.

However, if you fail to complete your probation or violate any condition of your probation, the court can revoke your probation, and sentence you to the maximum sentence allowed by your original criminal DUI offense. For a first-time DUI conviction, this could include a $1,000 fine and 6 months in county jail. As a Santa Ana DUI defense lawyer will advise you, complying with the terms of your probation is a better choice for your future.

The Chambers Law Firm is highly skilled at handling a range of California DUI cases. We work with our clients to help them understand the options available to them, including the benefits of probation versus jail time. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or info@orangecountyduifirm.com to schedule a free initial consultation today.

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