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DUI Probation

Sacramento DUI Defense Lawyer – Michael Rehm

Available for free, confidential consultations 24/7 at (916) 233-7346

Informal Probation – this is the most common form of probation generally given on misdemeanor matters, including a wet reckless charge, or a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd DUI conviction, although this is based on the county where the conviction occurs.  In Sacramento County, informal probation is given on any DUI conviction, unless it is a felony.  In other counties, especially Placer County, it is not uncommon for formal probation to be given on a 2nd or 3rd Offense DUI.
Informal Probation primarily consists of abiding by three specific terms, and one vague term. The four terms are as follows:

  1. Obey all laws – although vague, in my experience this condition will not be violated if an infraction is picked up in the future.
  2. Zero Tolerance – you are not allowed to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.
  3. Refusal – you no longer have the right to refuse any chemical test in the future. (Although, whether you in reality do in the first place is subject to question).
  4. Your driver's license will only be valid if you maintain auto insurance, specifically SR-22 insurance.

Note that the court is not ordering you to maintain SR-22 insurance for the term of the probation, the court is only requiring it if you plan on having a driver's license.

The length of informal probation varies based on the charge, and the county. In Sacramento County, probation is as follows:

  1. Wet Reckless – 3 years of informal probation.
  2. 1st DUI – 3 years informal probation
  3. 2nd DUI – 4 years informal probation
  4. 3rd DUI – 5 years informal probation

These lengths can change based on negotiations, but in my experience, this is the normal sentence on these charges.

Formal Probation – formal probation is exactly as it sounds, formal.  You have a probation officer, are subject to probation searches, etc.  In Sacramento County, formal probation is only given on felony matters, including felony DUI.

Ignition Interlock Device – as of July 2010, Assembly Bill 91 went into effect deeming it mandatory for anyone convicted of a first offense DUI to have an ignition interlock device (breathalyzer) installed into their vehicle. This only applies if you were convicted in one of four counties, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Alameda and Tulare.  So if you are facing a first offense DUI in Sacramento, this applies to you. If you are in Placer or Yolo County, it does not.
The ignition interlock device requirement is for five months.  It normally costs around $200 to install, and around $75 a month after installation.  There is a list of certified providers that the DMV will send to anyone convicted of a DUI in those four counties.  A second offense DUI comes with a one year requirement for the ignition interlock device.

SR-22— If convicted of a DUI, you will be required to provide the DMV with an SR-22 in order to get your license back, or even to obtain a restricted license.  An SR-22 is just high risk automobile insurance.  All insurance companies are familiar with it, although depending on your particular insurance company, you could be kicked off of your current carrier, at which point you would need to obtain one from another provider.

Legally you are not required to maintain an SR-22 as a condition of probation; the requirement is that you are only required to have it if you want a valid driver's license, which is in essence a requirement for most people.  For example, it is illegal to not have auto insurance in the first place. In California, if you do not actively have insurance, the DMV will not suspend your license. But in many other states, this is not the case. It is what is called a “lapse in coverage” suspension.  Once convicted of a DUI, you are subject to a “lapse in SR-22 coverage” suspension if for some reason you fail to maintain insurance for the entire term of your probation.
The good news is that once you obtain an SR-22 from your insurance company it is common for the carrier to electronically forward it to the DMV, and as long as you keep up with the monthly payments, it will stay there.  Most of my clients are concerned about the increase in their insurance premiums, and this is a legitimate concern. The advice I always give, and I will give now, is that if you do not need full coverage, get rid of it.  In my experience, a DUI conviction generally only leads to an increase in insurance premiums if the driver has full coverage.  If you do not have full coverage, the difference will be nominal.

Contact Sacramento DUI Attorney Michael Rehm for more information on DUI probation at (916) 233-7346.


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