Long Beach DUI Probation Lawyer
Driving Under the Influence While on Probation Charges in CA
In the dynamic landscape of California's legal system, DUI laws undergo regular revisions, necessitating a vigilant approach to legal counsel. Professional DUI lawyers specialize in navigating the complexities of this area of law, keeping abreast of the latest changes, and dedicating their practice to defending individuals facing DUI charges.
In January 2009, a significant modification to California's legal framework came into effect, establishing a new criminal offense: driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01% or higher while on probation for a prior DUI conviction (Vehicle Code Section 23154). This update introduced a distinct charge, distinct from merely violating probation terms.
Previously, driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in one's system constituted a probation violation but didn't constitute a separate charge. However, that new law elevated this scenario to a distinct criminal offense, warranting specific attention and caution for individuals on probation due to a previous DUI.
Probation Violations and DUI in California
Probation violation proceedings in DUI cases can result from an arrest for a new DUI or other criminal offense during the probationary period. Probation violation proceedings can also result from a failure to comply with court penalties, such as a failure to pay a fine on time or the non-completion of an alcohol program by the due date.
When the probationary court receives information about a new criminal law violation, or when a defendant fails to comply with the other terms of probation, the court terminates probation and either issues an arrest warrant or sends a notice to appear to the defendant mandating a court appearance.
The court has broad powers on a probation violation, from reinstating probation on the same terms and conditions without any further penalty to imposing the maximum penalty for the original offense. For a first-time DUI, the maximum penalty is six months in county jail.
Normally, if a defendant fails to pay a fine on time or fails to complete an alcohol program on time, the court will allow an extension without additional penalties, so long as the request is made promptly. However, if there are repeated violations or the commission of a new DUI, some additional jail time is to be expected. The policies of individual courts and judges vary quite considerably in this regard.
A DUI probation violation in Orange County normally results in an additional thirty to ninety days in county jail. Los Angeles County courts tend to be more lenient.
A defendant charged with a probation violation has the right to be represented by an attorney and has the right to a probation violation hearing before a judge (not before a jury). However, the standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities, not beyond a reasonable doubt.
Conditions of Probation for DUI in California
Upon conviction for a DUI in California, a defendant is placed on probation for a period of between three and five years. For a misdemeanor DUI, probation is normally informal or summary. This means that the defendant promises to abide by the conditions of probation without supervision from a probation officer. Some jurisdictions impose formal probation for misdemeanor DUI, but formal probation is more typical for felony convictions. Formal probation mandates supervision from a county probation officer.
Conditions of probation for a DUI conviction include a condition to violate no law and a condition that the defendant refrain from driving unless in possession of a valid license and valid insurance. Additionally, it is a condition not to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol or drugs in the defendant's system. Even a .01% blood alcohol level could result in a violation of probation.
Some judges also order a no-drinking provision and a condition not to enter bars. Some judges in Long Beach impose this condition in all DUI cases.
In addition, although field sobriety tests are normally considered voluntary, when on probation for a DUI, a defendant must submit to all field sobriety tests and blood or breath tests, including a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or any other chemical test when lawfully stopped. Refusal to submit to such a test carries severe repercussions, including a mandatory one to three-year suspension of their driver's license.
The executive terms of probation include completion of an alcohol education program, and payment of a fine, and can include Caltrans, community service, or jail time depending on the facts of the case.
It's crucial for those on probation for a DUI in California to be aware of this legislative change. Driving with any trace of alcohol in their system during the probationary period exposes them to charges for this new offense. Moreover, the original court overseeing the probation may initiate probation violation proceedings based on this new law.
Our team offers a free consultation to provide guidance and support in navigating these intricate legal proceedings.