Although driving under the influence – DUI – is charged more than any other crime in California, the sentence for most people convicted of DUI in this state is probation.
But first things first. The most important thing to know about DUI in Southern California is this: If you are charged with DUI, you must reach out immediately to an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer for the legal advice and representation that you are very much going to need.
GENERALLY SPEAKING, HOW DOES DUI PROBATION WORK IN THIS STATE?
DUI probation allows a convicted DUI offender to avoid a term of incarceration by agreeing to the terms and conditions of probation. Judges determine the precise terms and conditions, but DUI probation usually includes paying a fine and completing court-ordered DUI classes.
California DUI probation also requires the probationer to refrain from driving with any measurable blood alcohol content (BAC) level during the term of probation, which is typically three years for a DUI conviction.
Any failure by a DUI probationer to adhere to the conditions and terms of probation may result in a “VOP” (violation of probation) hearing. At that hearing, a judge could impose stricter terms of probation or revoke the DUI probation entirely and order the offender to serve time in jail.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED WHEN A DUI PROBATION IS ORDERED?
When determining the terms and conditions of a DUI probation, a California judge takes into account:
1. the details and severity of the charge and conviction
2. the offender’s previous DUI and other alcohol-related convictions, if any
3. the extent of the offender’s alcohol abuse or addiction
WHAT ARE SOME TYPICAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF A DUI PROBATION?
What follows are examples of the precise conditions and terms that may be imposed by California courts on convicted DUI offenders:
1. A fine ranging from $390 to $1,000: But when additional court fees, penalties, and assessments are totaled, an offender may be looking at two to three times the stated amount of the fine.
2. A four-to-six month driver’s license suspension: In most cases, probationers will qualify for a suspended license that allows driving only to and from work, school, DUI classes, and scheduled court appearances.
3. Enrollment and completion of a DUI course: DUI courses can range from a twelve-hour class to a program that extends for up to thirty months.
4. Avoidance of any criminal activity and any arrest on any new criminal charge during the probation period.
5. Consent to unscheduled and unwarranted drug and DUI testing.
6. No driving with any measurable BAC level during the probationary period.
7. Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the probationer’s personal vehicle.
WHAT ABOUT IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES (IIDs)?
Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) prevent a vehicle from starting unless the driver “blows” into the device a breath sample that’s free of any trace of alcohol.
Currently, IIDs are required for every convicted DUI offender in several California counties. IIDs will be required for every convicted DUI offender in the state beginning in 2019.
WHAT OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF PROBATION MAY BE ORDERED?
A mandatory term of every DUI probation in California is that the probationer doesn’t perpetuate any other crimes during the term of probation, including:
1. driving without a license
2. driving without automobile insurance
3. driving on a license suspended because of a DUI conviction
A probationer charged with any of these offenses will also be charged, additionally, with a violation of probation.
Additional terms and conditions that may be a part of a DUI probation may also include:
1. community service
2. restitution when appropriate
3. a court order to wear a SCRAM device that electronically monitors for alcohol consumption
HOW DOES DUI SCHOOL WORK IN CALIFORNIA?
DUI school is required by law for all convicted DUI offenders in this state. California offers five different DUI school programs:
1. A twelve-hour class is usually ordered for someone who pleads guilty to wet reckless to avoid a conviction for DUI.
2. A three-month class (AB54) is usually ordered for first-time offenders convicted of “standard” misdemeanor DUI.
3. A nine-month class is usually ordered if an offender’s BAC level measured at 0.15 percent or higher for a first offense or if the offender has a DUI or wet reckless conviction in the previous ten years.
4. An eighteen-month class (SB38) is usually ordered for a second “standard” DUI conviction.
5. A thirty-month class (not offered in all counties) may be ordered if a convicted offender’s BAC level measures or exceeds 0.15 percent for a second DUI offense or if it is an offender’s third DUI conviction and the offender has already completed SB38.
WHAT ABOUT MEETINGS SPONSORED BY AA OR MADD?
Some judges also require some DUI probationers to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The meeting director must sign an attendance verification form for the probationer after each meeting.
If attendance at AA meetings is ordered as a condition of probation, any lack of attendance or failure to get a verification signature can trigger a violation of probation charge.
Attendance at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) “Victim Impact Panel” may also be ordered as a condition of DUI probation.
A MADD Victim Impact Panel is a two-to-three hour program that may include talks by drunk driving victims, slide and video presentations, and other DUI educational material.
WHAT ELSE IS REQUIRED OF DUI PROBATIONERS?
California judges must have proof of attendance for any programs ordered as conditions of a DUI probation. Probationers must also prove their compliance with any other probation conditions like the payment of restitution or fines.
Any failure by a probationer to present that proof of compliance can trigger the issuance of a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest for a violation of probation.
How can you avoid an arrest and conviction for DUI and DUI probation – or worse? The easiest way to avoid DUI trouble is by adhering to the same basic advice that you’ve heard so many times before: Don’t Drink and Drive.
WHERE CAN YOU TURN FOR HELP WITH A DUI CHARGE?
However, if for any reason you are stopped and arrested for DUI in Southern California, a DUI lawyer will fight aggressively for the best possible resolution to your DUI case.
If there are any weaknesses in the state’s case against you or any questions about the legality of the police conduct in your case, your DUI attorney may be able to have the charge dropped or to win an acquittal on your behalf.
And even if the case against you is strong and a conviction is certain, your DUI lawyer will advocate for leniency and for reduced or alternative sentencing.
Having a lawyer’s help is your constitutional right. If you are charged with DUI in California, obtain that help at once. Your future and even your freedom may depend on it.