Drinking and driving is a serious issue throughout the U.S.  Many people who face charges for DUI face probation.  There are two types of DUI probation, and each one has different effects on your freedom and rights.  Drinking while on probation for DUI is usually not a good idea, but it is not always illegal.  The Ventura DUI defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain when you can and can’t drink while on probation for DUI in California.  If you need help with your DUI charges or probation violations, call our law offices today for a free legal consultation.

Does DUI Probation Mean You Can’t Drink?

There are two main types of probation that apply to DUI cases: “summary probation” and full-fledged “probation” as an alternative sentence (a.k.a., a suspended sentence).  These probation programs have different purposes and give you different rights and terms of probation.  Typically, people under summary probation may still be allowed to drink, but other probationers may be required to stay sober.

Summary Probation

Any time you get a DUI, you might be sentenced to summary probation.  This is a term of probation that does not require check-ins or meetings with a probation officer.  Instead, you are merely under close scrutiny: any further offenses or DUI issues will send you straight to jail.  This type of probation usually means that you can stay out of jail, potentially performing community service or other conditions of probation instead of being locked up.  However, summary probation usually requires you to stay crime-free, consent to any DUI breath testing, and to refrain from driving with any alcohol in your system.

The “legal limit” for people on probation is lowered from the state-wide .08 to .01.  This is essentially a “zero-tolerance” policy which can send you to jail and lead to charges for another DUI.  While drinking may still be legal for people on probation for DUI, you should plan to stay away from driving entirely after drinking.

Judges order different probation terms in each case, and it is important to make sure that the court did not order you to stop drinking as part of your probation.

Probation as an Alternative to Jail

If you were sentenced to probation instead of jail as part of a plea deal or a reduced sentence, the court may order you not to drink as a term of your probation.  These instances of probation involve more supervision than summary probation, setting you up with a probation officer and requiring check-ins.  The judge may also require periodic drug or alcohol testing, searches of your home, and other intrusive supervision.  The court will typically also require you to do the following:

  • Report your address
  • Stay in the state unless you get permission to leave
  • Stay away from known criminals
  • Refrain from future crime
  • Complete community service
  • Pay fines and restitution
  • Participate in drug or alcohol rehab

Some rehabilitation programs require people to stay sober, so you may need to stop drinking to complete your court-ordered rehab.  Alternatively, the court may actively order you to stop drinking and remain sober as a term of your probation, especially if you have demonstrated a serious dependence on alcohol or have had multiple DUIs.  In some cases, random testing or monitoring might alert the court to any violations.

Talk to a lawyer about the specific terms of your probations sentence and whether you can still drink.

What Happens if You Drink While on Probation for DUI?

Drinking while on probation is typically only a problem if you have been specifically ordered not to drink or you get behind the wheel after drinking.  In either situation, you risk violating your probation, but you could also face additional criminal charges that could hurt your record and lead to jail time and fines.

Probation violations are incredibly serious.  In many instances of probation, the court sets a “suspended” sentence involving a certain jail or prison sentence.  If you violate the terms of your probation and get arrested, the court will hold a short hearing where they resentence you, activating your suspended sentence and sending you to jail.  This can happen for any probation violations, including simple violations like failing to check in or failing a drug test.

If you are on summary probation, refraining from alcohol is not usually a term of your probation, so this might not affect you.  However, any probation for DUI under CA Penal Code § 23152 (general DUI) or 23153 (DUI with injury) lowers the legal limit for you to .01%.  This means that if you are pulled over for any driving offense, police will see the probation on your record, breathalyze you, and discover any alcohol that may be in your system.  If the test returns a BAC of over .01%, you can face an additional charge for DUI.

This DUI charge will mean violating your probation since you cannot commit additional crimes while on probation.  That will typically end your probation and send you back to jail.  The new charges will also mean you could face additional penalties for the new offense, including additional license suspension, fines, and jail time.

If you are arrested for DUI while on DUI probation, you should contact an attorney immediately to fight the probation violation and the new DUI charges.

Call Our Ventura DUI Defense Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation

If you or a loved one needs legal advice to help determine whether you are allowed to drink while on probation, call The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today.  If you were arrested for a probation violation for drinking or driving with a BAC over .01% while on probation, contact our law offices immediately to set up a free legal consultation on your probation violation and new DUI charges.  To contact our Ventura, CA criminal defense lawyers, call us at (805) 643-5555.