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Can I Get Probation for a DUI?

Posted by Jason Beahm | Apr 06, 2017 | 0 Comments

In California, a defendant found guilty of DUI may be sentenced to formal or informal probation. Usually, for a first-time DUI it will result in a 3 year informal probation, also known as summary probation. Even though the probation is informal, it still requires that you comply with the probation terms or face consequences.

Formal probation may be assigned if the DUI has enhancements (such as having a child under 14 in the car during the arrest, refusing a specimen test, or having prior DUI convictions at the time of the arrest).

While both types of probation require some level of reporting and conditions, informal probation is generally less time consuming and requires fewer conditions of probation.

What is Informal Probation?

The main difference between formal and informal probation is the requirement to meet with a probation officer. If placed on informal probation, you are under the supervision of the court, and you are not required to attend weekly or monthly probation meetings.

Instead, you will be assigned some conditions, such as community service and attendance of DUI classes, and you must submit evidence to the court that you have completed those conditions.

You will also be required to appear in court to report any arrests and violations of probation. This type of probation is usually much easier to comply with than formal probation.

If granted informal probation, the judge is releasing you with the hopes that you will not appear in court again during the term of your probation. The length of informal probation vary case to case, but for a first-time arrest, the length of probation can range from six months to three years.

What is Formal Probation?

Formal probation is usually assigned to those with repeat convictions, or to those who have enhancements on their DUI charge. The requirements are more demanding than informal probation.

If placed on formal probation, you will be required to meet with a probation officer at least once a month to report your employment status, disclose whether you have been involved with the police since your last visit, report your progress on the conditions of your probation, and submit to specimen testing to determine the presence of drugs and alcohol in your system.

Formal probation can also vary in length, but it generally carries longer sentences than informal probation as it is assigned to more serious cases. Conditions of Probation Both types of probation usually require the following conditions to be met:

  • Remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol
  • Avoid certain persons or locations which could lead to repeated offenses
  • Avoid additional arrests
  • Be financially responsible (e.g. support your dependents and maintain employment)
  • Attend counseling
  • Perform community service
  • Attend DUI education classes

With formal probation, the following conditions may be added to those listed above:

  • Install an interlock ignition device in your vehicle
  • Submit to drug and alcohol testing
  • Meet with a probation officer once a week or once a month
  • Attend Alcoholics Anonymous Classes
  • Attend a DUI victim impact panel
  • Pay regular fees to your probation officer
  • Submit to visits to your home and place of employment by your probation officer

The terms of probation are assigned by the judge in each case, and which terms are assigned in a case depends on several factors, including the reputation of your DUI lawyer, the leniency of your judge, the facts surrounding the DUI arrest, the strength of the prosecution's case, and your criminal record.

Probation Violations

While probation may seem like a more lenient sentence than jail, it is imperative that individuals placed on probation do not violate the terms assigned to them by the judge as doing so carries serious consequences.

Violations include failure to complete any of the conditions assigned by the judge, possessing alcohol, drugs or firearms, getting arrested, receiving violations on your ignition interlock device, failing to appear for appointments with the court or probation officer, or failing to pay fines or restitution.

If you are accused of violating your probation, you can have a hearing in front of a judge to contest the violation. During the hearing, the prosecutor must prove that you violated your probation, and he or she may suggest additional penalties.

The most severe penalty that could result from a probation violation is the forfeiture of probation, meaning that you will be required to serve jail time. In less serious cases, you may be given a warning.

Since probation allows the judge to be flexible with penalties, he or she may also assign additional terms, such as counseling, classes, or fines. It is advisable to comply with the terms of probation to the best of your abilities to avoid complications such as these during a probated sentence.

Contact Beahm Law Today

If you are facing DUI charges or have questions about your case, you need experts who will fight for the best results. For dependable and experienced representation, call Beahm Law Office today at 844-811-5444 or contact us online.

About the Author

Jason Beahm

Founding Attorney Profile Credentials Associations Bio Jason Beahm is the Founder and President of Beahm Law. Voted “Best of SF” four out of the past five years by SF Weekly Magazine, Attorney Beahm practices in the areas of DUI, criminal defense, and personal injury. He is passionate ...


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