First Time DUI and Probation

Probation is commonly granted for most people convicted of a first time California DUI. Probation allows those convicted to get around spending time in jail if they agree to abide by numerous conditions and fulfill specific requirements. While it is preferable to serving jail time, it does require full compliance with all conditions set forth by the court. Probation terms may be extremely difficult for some people to comply with, making a probation violation all but inevitable. Being charged with a probation violation means a judge may revoke probation and sentence the offender to jail or prison, depending on whether the underlying charge was a misdemeanor or a felony.  

Summary Probation

Most first time DUI offenders are sentenced to little or no jail time and a term of misdemeanor ("summary") probation. This "summary" probation means that there is no need to report to a probation officer or the court. Probation requires the defendant to abide by a set of rules for a period of time, often lasting three to five years.

Probation requires that the person commit no criminal offense (traffic infractions such as speeding are not considered a criminal offense), and there is no tolerance for driving while having any detectable blood alcohol content. If a person is pulled over for suspected DUI, he or she must submit to chemical testing -- blood test -- to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Standard terms of probation for most first time DUI offenses will include these standard terms of probation:

  • Payment of a Fine (the mount varies from court to court);
  • Attend and complete First Offender DUI / Substance Abuse Program (AB548 program);
  • Complete community service or other work program as ordered;
  • Drive only if properly licensed and insured;
  • Install an alcohol detection Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any car you own or drive.

Compliance with most of the terms must be done by certain deadlines, such as the fine payment and signing up for classes. Those on probation are still considered to be serving a term – just outside the confines of a jail cell. This allows those convicted the opportunity to maintain their normal life and fulfill the requirements of their DUI conviction.

From the Author: Daniel R. Perlman

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