When a defendant is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) for the first time in California, he or she may receive various penalties, including fines, the suspension of his or her driver’s license, and jail time.  The person may also be placed on probation, which requires compliance with certain rules throughout the probation period.  Our Ventura DUI lawyers explain probation for a first-offense DUI in California.

What is the Probation Period for a First-Time Drunk Driving Offense in California?

First, let’s quickly go over the difference between probation and parole, which are sometimes confused.  Parole means being released from prison.  A person who is on probation lives in the general community, but must obey certain rules.
There are two types of probation in California:

  1. Informal Probation – Informal probation is referred to as “summary probation.”  Summary or informal probation is unsupervised, which means the person on probation does not need to report to a probation officer.  Informal probation generally lasts from one to three years, but may last for up to five years.
  2. Formal Probation – Formal probation is also referred to as “felony probation.”  As the name implies, this type of probation is sentenced for felony offenses.  Unlike a person on informal or summary probation, a person on formal or felony probation will be subject to supervision by a probation officer.  Formal probation generally lasts from three to five years.

Though frequently charged as a misdemeanor, DUI can be charged as a felony if the driver:

  • Injures another person.
  • Has a prior felony DUI conviction.
  • Has three or more prior DUI convictions from within the past 10 years.

If a person is convicted of a first-offense misdemeanor DUI, he or she may be placed on informal probation.  Though informal probation generally lasts for a duration of one to three years, probation for a first-offense DUI misdemeanor in California may range from three to five years, depending on the situation.  If convicted of a second-offense misdemeanor DUI, the defendant may be sentenced to three to five years of summary probation.

What Are the Conditions of Probation for Driving Under the Influence?

When a person is placed on probation, he or she is expected to follow certain rules.  Some of these rules set requirements for the probationer (such as participating in therapy), while others ban the probationer from engaging in certain activities (such as associating with members of gangs).  Put simply, the conditions of probation essentially form a list of actions the probationer must or must not do.

Some conditions of probation are universal.  For instance, you will be required to avoid additional arrests regardless of whether you are on probation for theft crimes, drug crimes, or any other type of offense.  However, other conditions of probation vary from case to case, depending on the nature of the underlying offense.  For instance, a person who is specifically on probation for sex crimes against a child cannot live within 2,000 feet of a park or school under California law.

Conditions of probation for DUI in California frequently include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • You must not drive with any amount of alcohol in your system.
  • You may be required to pay restitution.
  • You may be required to participate in a Victim Impact Program organized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
  • You may be required to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
  • You may be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your car.  An IID is like a breathalyzer built into your vehicle, and will prevent the engine from starting if your BAC exceeds a certain threshold.
  • If you are ever arrested for another DUI, you must submit to chemical testing, such as breathalyzer testing or blood testing.  Failure to submit to a breathalyzer test can result in fines and other penalties.

If a person violates any of these terms – or commits a probation violation by driving drunk while on probation for a different offense, such as possession of controlled substances – the court may order additional conditions of probation, or make the existing conditions stricter.  If the violation is major, the person’s probation may be revoked altogether, meaning he or she will be incarcerated.

Ventura DUI Defense Lawyers Handling Misdemeanor and Felony Intoxicated Driving

Thousands of people are arrested for DUI every year in California.  However, many DUI arrests are based on flawed evidence, or involve unlawful police procedures.  There are a number of legal strategies which can be utilized to fight intoxicated driving charges in California, but you need to consult with a Ventura DUI attorney as soon as possible.

If you or one of your family members was charged with drugged or drunk driving in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County, do not wait another day to seek legal assistance.  Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC immediately at (805) 643-5555 for a free and completely confidential legal consultation.  In addition to breathalyzer violations and open container violations, our Ventura criminal defense lawyers also handle DUI charges involving injuries, high BAC (blood alcohol content), first offenses, repeat offenses, offenses involving marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, and more.