DUI Probation and Probation Violation in California

In most cases, someone convicted of a DUI in California is put on probation. When put on probation for a DUI offense, the individual is provided with the opportunity to obey specific rules and regulations outside of a jail cell. However, a probation violation for a DUI is probable if the person does not fulfill the requirements to be abided by during the probation period. A probation violation also is referred to as a “PV.” A judge could revoke probation if an individual is found to have disobeyed a condition part of his or her probation. A “PV” charge could lead to a jail or prison sentence. A jail or prison sentence is decided based upon whether the DUI charge was a felony or misdemeanor.

Probation conditions for a DUI in California

When someone is sentenced to probation in connection with a DUI in California, the terms of the probation often vary based on whether it is the first DUI offense or not. Often, the probation rules are stricter for repeat offenders.

Here are some possible terms of a probation in California as a result of a DUI charge: California Vehicle Code sections 23538, 23542, 23548 and 23552

  • The offender may have to pay a base fine of $390-$1,000. The fine often is increased drastically based on multiple DUI offenses.
  • The offender’s driver’s license may be suspended for six months to four years. Someone who needs his or her license to get to work or school, for example, may be allowed to keep their license, but with other restriction.
  • The offender may have to complete a 12- to 30-month session of  DUI school, which is an  alcohol use program (otherwise known as DUI school).
  • The offender may still be sent to county fail for a few days.

There are also general probationary terms that are imposed for a DUI conviction in California regardless of whether it’s a first or subsequent conviction: California Vehicle Code sections 23600, 23152 and 23153

  • Three to five years of informal probation.
  • No additional criminal offenses can come about while on probation.
  • If arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, one must submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC  (blood alcohol concentration).
  • The person can not operate a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in his or her system.

“Zero Tolerance” in California: California Vehicle Code sections 23600, 23152, 23153 and 23154 

In California, Vehicle Code 23600 states someone on probation for a DUI must not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in his or her system. This is known in California as the “Zero Tolerance” law. If an individual on probation for a DUI is found to be in violation of Vehicle Code 23600, a judge most likely will revoke the person’s probation. The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) typically revokes someone’s license if he or she violated California’s “Zero Tolerance” law while on probation.

Ignition interlock devices used during DUI probation

If put on probation for a DUI in California, a judge could order the offender’s vehicle be equipped with IIDs (Ignition Interlock Devices). An IID, at the offender’s expense, is put on a vehicle so it may not be started if an alcohol-free sample has not been first provided. This condition may be put on someone’s probation for a DUI if he or she was convicted due the refusal to submit a breath or chemical blood test; had a BAC of .15 percent or greater; and/or was convicted of  a subsequent DUI with a BAC .6 percent or greater.

The period the IID must remain on the offender’s vehicle can vary from five months to four years. The length typically depends on how many past DUI convictions he or she has had.

It is important to note, however, that an individual convicted in Alameda, Los Angeles or Sacramento County must have an IID put on any vehicle the he or she could operate or drive, regardless of the other conditions that apply in California. In addition, the DMV automatically orders the installation of an IID on a vehicle of someone caught driving in California while his or her license is suspended due to a DUI conviction. California Vehicle Code sections 23600, 23152, 232153, 23154, 23575 and 23700

Driving in California while on DUI probation

Driving without a license and driving without auto insurance are considered criminal offenses in California. Someone put on probation for a DUI conviction must refrain from committing these criminal offenses. He or she must also refrain from committing any other criminal offenses during the probation period. This means a person who drives without a license or with a suspended license and/or without auto insurance likely will be charged with a probation violation. He or she also could be charged with a new offense. According to California Vehicle Code 14601.2, it is appropriate to punish someone who drives while his her license is suspended as a result of a DUI. The code states a jail sentence and steep fines should accompany the offense.5

Alternative sentencing options

Alternative sentencing options typically are part of the conditions of probation. This means these conditions must be met to avoid time in jail or prison. If someone is put on probation for a DUI in California, the judge may order one or more of the alternative sentencing options:

  • Cal-Trans roadside work.
  • Community Service.
  • House Arrest / Electronic Monitoring.
  • Restitution to anyone who suffered injury or damages in connection with the DUI.
  • Alcohol related classes.

Programs for drunk driving

Often, a judge will require someone on probation for a DUI to take part in alcohol-related classes. A judge may order him or her to attend DUI School; the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) VIP (Victim Impact Panel; or the HAM (Hospital and Morgue) program, for example. These programs are designed to teach offenders the dangers associated with drinking and driving.