If you are convicted of DUI in California, you will receive at least three years of probation on top of your sentence. Probation is a period of special scrutiny where you are supposed to show that you are reformed and will be a law abiding citizen. It comes with a wide variety of special conditions. If you break any of these conditions you will be subject to penalties for a probation violation.
What Counts as a Probation Violation
In a DUI case, any of the following will count as a violation of your probation:
- Driving with any amount of alcohol in your system. If you are pulled over and a breath or blood test shows you’ve been drinking, you automatically violated your DUI probation. This is much stricter than it is for other citizens. Normally, the limit for alcohol in your system is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). But during your probation the limit is 0.01%—the smallest detectable amount. The same goes for having any drugs in your system.
- You refuse a breath, blood or urine test. If you are pulled over and arrested for any new DUI charge, and you refuse to take a chemical test, you have violated your probation for your previous DUI charge. (Refusal is also a separate charge in its own right.)
- You fail to show proof of enrollment in a court-ordered program. At a minimum, your probation will require that you enroll in DUI school. You may also be ordered into alcohol or drug treatment, community service, a deterrent program, or other special programs. You must show the court proof that you have enrolled in these programs. If you do not, it’s a violation.
- You fail to complete the programs. Simply enrolling in a program is not enough. You must attend and complete it. You will get a certificate from the program upon completion. If you do not submit this certificate to the court by the deadline, it’s a violation.
- You don’t pay restitution. If you caused an accident or injured anyone you will be ordered to pay restitution. Again, not showing proof of payment by the deadline is a probation violation.
- You don’t pay your fines. Failing to pay fines and court assessments by the deadline is an automatic violation.
- You fail to comply with other probation terms. You may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, wear a SCRAM bracelet, or carry out other special conditions. Failure to do these and submit proof is also a violation.
- You don’t show up for court appearances. Most probation does not include additional court appearances after your sentencing. But if you are given any more court appointments, such as a restitution hearing or probation hearing, you must show up or you have violated probation.
What Happens if You Violate Probation?
If you violate probation in any of the above ways, the judge will issue a bench warrant. This is usually done automatically. If you miss any appointment or deadline, such as the deadline to submit proof of completing DUI school, the courts will simply process a warrant and send it out to law enforcement. You will then be arrested and brought back to court.
The judge can then issue any or all of the following consequences:
- Revoke your probation and impose the original jail sentence. For example, if you agreed to do 10 days of community service instead of 10 days of jail, and then didn’t complete the community service, you may be sent to jail for the full 10 days.
- Impose a tougher jail Instead of the original 10 days of jail time, for example, the judge could give you the maximum sentence—six months in a first time DUI or a year in many repeat DUI’s. Or, the judge could give you anywhere in between.
- Extend your probation. The whole probation period may start over or be extended.
- Add additional terms. The judge may keep your original probation terms but add more. For example, adding addiction treatment on top of community service. They may also order counseling.
The best way to avoid a probation violation is to have a good DUI lawyer fight your DUI and get you an outcome you can easily live with. If you’re already facing a probation violation, a DUI lawyer may be able to help you keep the penalties to a minimum.
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