Understanding Misdemeanor DUI Probation in California



First Offense Misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence convictions in California generally get similar sentences no matter what county.

Although a conviction of the DUI statute(s): Vehicle Code section 23152(a) and Veh Code 23152(b) has a maximum sentence of 1 year in county jail, most first time DUI offenders are sentenced to little or no jail time and a term of misdemeanor probation.

In most cases, the terms of probation are standardized. Here is what you need to know about Misdemeanor DUI probation in order to avoid common violations caused by confusion or correctable problems.


Probation is a Substitute for Jail Time:

When a court offers a Defendant probation, what the court is really saying is:  Accept these terms of probation or accept jail time.  Of course, most people prefer probation over jail, but you do have the option to say “No, I want Jail Time”.

Generally, when stating a sentence on a first offense DUI, the court will state there is a jail term “Suspended” pending the completion of probation.  In most courts for a Misdemeanor first offense DUI, this Suspended Term is 30 or 60 days. So long as probation is completed without problems, the Suspended Jail Sentence is not carried out.

Misdemeanor Probation is Usually “Informal”:

In most California Superior Courts, misdemeanor probation is also called “Court” or “informal” probation because there is almost no active court monitoring of the defendant.  Instead of active monitoring, (which does exist in Felony probation), the court issues a set of court orders (probation terms) that must be complied with.  Usually, the term of probation is 3 or 5 years.

Most Common DUI Probation Terms:

There are standard terms of probation that are issued in nearly all CA 1st offense under the influence cases:

1) Pay a Fine (Fine amount varies from court to court);

2) Attend and complete First Offender DUI / Substance Abuse Program (AB548 program in many cases : More Info on DUI Classes);

3) Complete Sheriff’s work program or community service as ordered (some courts will require a few days of jail here);

4) Do Not Drive At all (unless properly licensed and insured);

5) Install an alcohol detection Ignition Interlock Device in any car you own or drive;

and possibly other terms tailored to the situation.

Of course, there are deadlines for most of the terms, such as the fine payment and signing up for classes.

Terms of Probation Are Stated Orally By The Judge, and Given To Defendant in Writing When the Conviction Happens:

How do you know what the terms of your probation are?  Well, the court gives them to you when you are convicted.  Conviction only happen when a defendant pleads guilty, or at the end of a trial that the defendant loses.  If you do not have a trial, you get the terms of probation at the hearing where you plead guilty.

About 90% of DUI cases end in a guilty plea.  Very few end with a jury trial.

Before taking a guilty plea to a misdemeanor, a judge must first get the defendant to waive their right to a jury trial on the record.  Normally, this happens with the client in court, who pleads guilty and give up the right to a jury trial in live court orally.  In most courts, the judge will also require a written “Waiver Form” to document the guilty plea.

Once the guilty plea is taken, the court states the terms of probation, and the court clerk writes them up on a document known as a “Minute Order”.  Every defendant who is in court and pleads guilty gets a Minute Order that will list any probation terms.

Defendants with private criminal defense attorneys can send the Attorney to court to plead guilty for them – thus avoiding a court appearance.  When this happens, the defendant does not hear the court state the terms of probation, but the attorney is required to provide the terms of probation to the defendant in writing.

If you have lost your terms of probation, you can get them by contacting the probation department at the court where you were convicted.  You can also go to the court clerks office and view/copy the court’s file on your case.

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If You Miss a Deadline, Schedule a Court Date:

When any of the terms of probation are violated, the court issues an arrest warrant.  Usually this happens when a defendant does not complete a class on time, fails to pay the fine on time, or fails to show up for jail time or the Sheriff’s work program.

Usually when a violation is alleged by the court, a warrant issues and the court revokes the probation completely.  When there is a revocation of probation, the court can re sentence the defendant on the original charge or impose the suspended jail sentence.

Defendants are entitled to a hearing before they can be convicted of a probation violation, but the burden of proof is much lower for the government than the standard “beyond all reasonable doubt”.  Probation violations are easy to prove for a prosecutor, especially when there is a paper trial like in a DUI case.

Once probation is violated, revoked, or a warrant issued, the defendant cannot just continue on probation as if nothing is wrong. If a defendant misses a fine payment, future payments will not get a warrant recalled or probation reinstated, the judge must first give the defendant permission to pay the fine (rather than just do the sentence in jail instead of probation).  The same is true of a defendant who fails to complete the AB 548 classes on time.  The defendant cannot just re enroll in the classes and expect everything to be fine.

The proper way to solve a probation violation problem is to get the case back in court, and usually, ask the judge to recall the warrant without remanding the defendant to jail, do not require posting of bail, and give the defendant a second chance and reinstate probation.

How To Prevent DUI Probation Problems:

1) Make sure you meet all fine payments as ordered by the court.  Do not wait for a bill. Keep records of your payment and prof of mailing if you do not pay in person (recommended);

2) Sign up for the classes on time, and do not go after drinking (drinking is a common reason for dismissal).

3) If you are not sure if your case is OK – call the criminal division court clerk at the court where your case was heard and ask for the status.

4) Do not drive while your license is suspended;

5) Go to the jail or sheriff’s work program on time, even though it hurts!  (Having to work or take care of old family never works as a defense to a probation violation)

The Worst Way to Deal With a Probation Violation?

If a probation violation warrant results in an arrest, the chances of a good outcome are low.  Voluntary action is the secret to a good result.

When there is a probation violation on a DUI case, even something as simple as a missed class, the court will issue a warrant and send it to the sheriff’s office for service on the defendant (ride to jail).  Most Sheriff’s offices will make at least one attempt to arrest the defendant at home or work, and then will follow up randomly.  Most people who are caught on DUI probation violation warrants are caught driving, or at the airport.

Law Enforcement will do DUI pre dawn warrant sweeps during election years.

An Attorney Is Worth The Money If You Have A DUI Probation Violation Problem:

DUI probation violations can be solved quickly with a private attorney. If the problem is recent, an attorney can usually in most California Criminal courts, get the case added on to the court’s schedule within 4 days – sometimes the next day and make a request to reinstate probation without the client being in court.

For older warrant problems, and in difficult courts, the defendant does have to appear in court even if they have hired a defenbse attorney. Some judges want to ask the defendant questions – like: “Why should I give you a second chance”.  The attorney can get the appearance scheduled, and help you get in and out fast, but can also demand and conduct a hearing to defend the client if the judge refuses to cooperate with a reinstatement of probation.

And when I do the work for a client with a DUI warrant, I make sure I can give a well prepared and persuasive presentation to the court, and effective defense at a probation violation hearing if needed.

Questions? Post a Comment and We Will Try to Respond With Good Info


About Attorney Christopher Dort

Public Interest Attorney. CA State Bar #196832. Licensed to practice law in California 1998, and then the US Federal District Court in 2000. Civil Litigation Trial Attorney (Insurance Defense Firms) 2000-2003. Private practice 2003 - present. First Solo Criminal Jury Trial 1998 (Santa Cruz County). First Civil Jury Trial 2002 (Orange County). Santa Cruz County Public Defenders Office 1996-1999 (law clerk). BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, 1995. JD, University of California, Hastings, 1998.
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111 Responses to Understanding Misdemeanor DUI Probation in California

  1. Victoria says:

    Hi! My husband is on DUI probation for the next 3 years. I have questions about some of the terms of his probation but can’t seem to get a straight answer to any of them. I am hoping you can help.
    First question- He is not permitted in “any bar, tavern, or licensed establishment”. Does that include restaurants such as Applebees or the like that serve alcohol? What about supermarkets or convenience stores that sell alcohol?

    Second question- He is not allowed to consume or possess alcohol. I am of legal age, have never been charged with anything at all, but don’t know if I can have a glass of wine in my own home. What about guests at a cookout, can they bring beer or the like and consume it on our property without causing a probation violation?

  2. Steven says:

    Hi! Thanks in advance!

    I was convicted of a DUI (Yolo county, CA) in April 2011 – completed all my courses, paid all fees immediately, and finished the community service.

    December 2012, I was pulled over for an expired registration tag (I had the new one in the glove compartment – d’oh!). Officer found out I was on probation for DUI and performed a PAC breathalyzer. I was over the 0.01 BAC limit for probation and was given a ticket for DUI probation violation and court date.

    Fast forward after my DMV APS hearing, I was found in violation. At the end of the letter, it states under one of the conditions to get my drivers license that:
    Completion of a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) program licensed to pursuant to 11836 of the Health and Safety Code is required if convicted of violation of 23140, 23152, or 23153 VC or Section 191.5 of the Penal Code.

    I’m quite unsure of what this means. I have taken the 6 month course when I was convicted of the DUI. Does this mean I have to sign up for another?

    Thanks,
    Steven

    • Steve,

      This is a good question. But I cant answer it without looking at all of your paperwork and calling the DMV Driver Safety Office to figure out what is going on in your case and/or the status of your drivers license. It would be a multi hour project.

      That might just be useless DMV crap that does not apply to you.

      If you had a private Defense Attorney help you with the original DUI case, you should contact that person for help. If you relied upon a Public Defender for the court case, that person will not help you with the DMV Drivers License side of the case (one reason why using a public defender for a dui case puts you into drivers license troubles right away).

      What if you have no money to get help? I’d say this: go to the DMV in person today. Ask the DMV what the status of your drivers license is as of today, get a print out of your driver history report as it exists today. Bring your proof of completion for all the programs you have completed.

      Then, check with the court clerk to see if they have the records of completion for whatever classes the court ordered you to complete.

      Go from there. Estimated time to figure out and solve: 1 day.

      • Steven says:

        Thanks! I was doing a little research and recalling my previous experience. During the court hearing, the judge told me to just pay a fine as it was an infraction on the ticket. I remember that the court determines if you are required to take courses as part of the punishment. I will check up with the DMV, but I believe that this is some generic requirement.

        Thanks, again for you prompt response. Greatly appreciated!!

  3. Corey says:

    I had a DUI conviction almost 3 years ago and completed all the requirements stated by the courts without any issues. While on probation I was caught buying alcohol for a minor in a sting operation. I was not drinking at the time, they just gave my a ticket and sent me on my way. Im curious about my DUI probation with getting this ticket. What can you tell me about this situation? Will it effect be greater because of the DUI probation?

    Thanks

    • Corey,

      Great question.

      From a defense attorney’s perspective . . .

      If the citation is for an infraction violation, or if you ultimately are convicted of an infraction only – no problem.

      If it is a citation for a misdemeanor charge, problem. Actually, problemz, plural. Maybe. If your probation court finds out.

      Catching a new misdemeanor case is almost certainly a violation of your probation. This means the probation can be revoked, and the judge can resentence you on the original charge. The judge probably already told you what you would be sentenced to if that happened in what is called a “Suspended Sentence”. For example, you may have a 30 or 60 day “suspended” jail sentence waiting in the wings as the default rule once probation disappears.

      Then, aside from that, the violation itself can lead to a separate penalty as a “probation violation”. Yes, you can lose probation and get charged with a violation that can lead to a new sentence.

      Then, aside from that, you have the new case to deal with. And it is an alcohol related offense. .. .

      But realistically – it is possible no one finds out. You are not really required to tell anyone anything. Except your name. Maybe your address.

      If the court that placed you on probation does not find out, there really is no problem with probation.

      What would I do if I had this case? Probably try to end it fast at the arraignment with an agreement for some kind of infraction. Maybe penal code 415 something instead?

      A misdemeanor conviction will be a probation violation for sure. Might screw up your chances for expungement later also.

      If you can win a trial – no problem. Hire a Defense Attorney.

      Sting op? Sheriff Team 6? Hire an attorney to help you avoid jail if possible.

      The longer the case hangs around, the more likely they find out about the probation issue.

      What if they do find out and you suddenly end up with a probation violation warrant? Hire an attorney.

      What if you get jail time on the new case and then they find out about the probation problem? You should have hired an attorney.

  4. Anonymous Guy says:

    Dear Christopher,

    Over the years, I was convicted of 2 DUIs. The first was in 2003. The second was in March, 2010. I paid my fines and took care of all of the court requirements. How long do I have to wait until I request expungement?

    Regards,
    Anonymous Guy

  5. dee says:

    I received a dui 3 years ago in May 2010. it took my lawyer until the following spring of 2011 to get the case closed. Am i eligible for expungement? I need this off my record or at least to not come up for jobs.

  6. Roger says:

    This is a very informative post you got going. I was given a DUI (brought down to a wet-reckless) because my BAC was .08. I was given a 3 years of unsupervised probation. My probation was suppose to end April of 2013 but just last week I got pulled over for broken plate lights. I had drink a few beers and the officer asked my to take the breathalyzer test which I did. My BAC was .075, so he gave me an infraction for the light and violating my dui probation. What are the possible consequences of my probation violation? What are the possible outcomes from hiring an attorney to fight the case? I wish i would of read your post on reducing probation terms :(. Thank you ahead a time.

    • Roger,

      A violation of probation can result in a revocation of probation completely, and resenting on the original charge. Then, you can also be sentenced separately for the probation violation.

      So, it’s bad news.

      I’d say you definitely need an Attorney to Represent, Defend and Advise you on the problem. Request A Free Attorney Case Review and I will work to get you a quality, detailed review and quote.

  7. Sandra says:

    Received my first DUI misdemeanor in riverside county, ca this past week. The officer pulled me over for running a red light. Asked me to exit the vehicle and made me count to 30 and then stand on one leg. I admitted to drinking but was never issued a breathalyzer. I was then handcuffed and arrested and made to take a blood test in jail. I felt fine and the officers in jail even told me they were surprised I was there since I was extremely compliant. I was just wondering if I even have a case and if I should hire an attorney. They never told me what my BAC was. Thanks!

    • Sandra,

      Yes, you should hire an attorney. You are not capable of defending yourself effectively.

      They dont have to tell you what your BAC was until you get into court.

      It does not matter what the cops told you. They are allowed to lie to you in order to try to get you to admit bad facts.

      Sounds like you really did run that red light. And admitted drinking.

      You need an attorney to protect yourself from yourself.

      I recommend that you find a way to hire Attorney Mark Gallagher (our local SoCal sponsor Defense Attorney). I will ask him to give you a free attorney case review and quote for his work. If you are totally guilty, it might be cheap to send him to court instead of having to go on your own. You should email him at Attorneygallagher(at)gmail.com

  8. lam says:

    Hi,

    I was recently arrested for a dui. I was the designated driver for a group of my girlfriend’s friends, but end up having two beers. I drove home around 1am on Hollywood street and my GF’s friends were very intoxicated. I felt okay to drive and believed to be under the BAC limit. I drove under the speed limit and followed all traffic laws. I was pulled over by a CHP officer because my passenger did not have a seat beat. I was questioned if I had any drinks that tonight and I replied that I had two beers a few hour ago. I was asked to perform a FST and did not stump or fall over. I was asked to blow in the breath analyzer. I asked the officer if I refused, will he let me go since I felt confidence that I passed the FST. He replied that he can’t do anything if I refused, so I fused and I was arrested (officer did not read my rights) and I was brought to the station to blow in the breath analyzer. I had a mint in my mouth during the time I was performing the FST. I blew twice into the breath analyzer at the station and resulted .09 BAC.

    I’m over 21, this is my first offense in dui and I only had one traffic violation back in 2001. What are the chances of me getting my dui case dismissed or lowered to a less charge such as a Wet Reckless or even an exhibition of speed? Should I hire a lawyer to help lower my charge, or plead guilty and accept the standard punishment?

    Thank you for your help and respond.

    • Iam,

      If you plead guilty at the first court appearance your chances of getting a reduction in the charges are exactly zero.

      Everyone thinks they passed the FSTs, but no one does pass. The cops always say the Defendant “swayed approx 1 inch to the left” or “eyes were twitching approx 2 degrees off center at max angle” or some other crap. And you admitted to drinking, which is a really, really bad fact.

      Didn’t feel like remaining silent, hun?

      Most defense oriented experts will testify that those breath test machines have an inherent error rate of at least 0.02% and maybe 0.04%. You might actually be innocent with that kind of evidence. But you have to pay them to say that in a trial, and you have to have a trial for that evidence to matter at all.

      Should you hire a defense attorney? Absolutely yes. The prosecutor wont even talk to you at all. Nodda. Zero, nothing. Wont even look at you.

      And because of that, you working your own case have zero chance of negotiating a plea agreement in your own favor.

      Here’s something you did not know: The officer probably made the decision to arrest you well before you took the FSTs. At least that is what my theory would be if I were your Defense Attorney. But I would have to see the video to give you details.

  9. Jeff says:

    Hello and thank you for answering my question…

    Back in April 2012, I was on the 405 freeway in Santa Ana heading South and was pushed off the road by a semi-truck into some gravel and ice plants which I couldn’t stop my forward progress and ended up in a water ditch, glad to be alive. I walked out to the edge of the freeway, waved someone down to call for help, and the police came an hour later and charged me with a DUI .15 on the report, .139 in actuallity.

    I retrieved an attorney immediately in the Orange County area and he made an appt with the DMV for a hearing, and lost, making me guilty by the DMV. I have not driven this entire time, and my daughter drives me wherever I need to go. Next week, my suspension will be up and I want to know if I have to attend DUI School if I am pleading out a Not Guilty case where the police have not provided any of the “discovery” my attorney has asked for…the police car video, half of my blood test, the so-called witness to the accident (which I flagged down 20 minutes after the accident), nothing…and i’ve been to court every hearing except the last two because my attorney says every time that they do not have what is requested and we are still in pre-trial 6 months later. After a year is the case dismissed as well? Nothing is happening, what should I think of this?

    Thanks a lot,
    Jeff

    • Jeff,

      Without interfering with your attorney’s work I’ll try to give some info.

      The DMV handles the drivers license suspension completely independently of the court’s action. If you want a drivers license back, you have to do exactly what the DMV tell you to do. If you are not sure what is left to do to get your drivers license back, contact the DMV Driver Safety Office (not the local field office).

      As far at the months delay in getting a trial – that sounds pretty normal if you “Waived time” or your right to a speedy trial as it should be called.

      Defendants often get anxious when a DUI case drags out. BUt the truth is you can end the case anytime you want if you want to plead guilty. You can end the case tomorrow if you want to do that. But if you want a jury trial, you have to go through the discovery process to collect all of the evidence.

      A speedy trial may not be in your best interest anyway. Your attorney would know best. But you can recall (“Pull”) your “waiver of the right to a speedy trial” at any time if you want to.

      Things are happening, you just dont know it. Somewhere out in your community, there are about 20 people getting jury summons to show up at your trial instead of going to work. 19 of them are thinking “This sucks”. 1 is thinking “I hope I get a DUI crash case”.

      Somewhere out there, there is a Department of Justice Forensic Toxicologist studying your test results and getting ready to testify against you. Somewhere out there, there is a defense attorney try to sort out all of the evidence and plan pre trial motions, while at the same time waiting for the district attorney to produce that evidence and make a reasonable plea offer. Somewhere out where, there is a cop trying to figure out how to import those digital photos from his dash cam to the CHP’s old 286 PC. Somewhere out there, there is a court clerk handling the scheduling of your court date, trying to figure out how to get all of the cases heard after they lay off the next 3 people due to budget cutbacks. Somewhere out there, is your defense attorney eating a breakfast burrito and watching his MCLE Video on new challenges to testing procedures, thinking about how to use that in your case. Maybe, if you have the resources, there is a forensic toxicologist that your attorney hired on your behalf examining the test results for you, or waiting for the test results for you, thinking he has seen this case before.

      So things are probably happening. Just not the dismissal that you are hoping for.

      Most of the time, unless there defendant is in custody, or there is a dead body involved, hurrying up a misdemeanor DUI case is not a good idea for the defendant.

      Finally, No, the case does not get dismissed after 1 year.

  10. Joseph says:

    I have got a second DUI while on probation for my first. With the help of a lawyer, I was able to reduce the second DUI to a wet and reckless. Court says I have to take a 3 month DUI program, while DMV wants 9 months with 1 year license restriction. If I do not complete the 9 month program is there no way to get my license back?

    Thank you

    • Joseph,

      If you want a valid drivers license, you have to do exactly what the Department of Motor Vehicles tells you to do.

      Driving is a privilege, not a right. In the state of CA, the DMV deals with the drivers license aspects of a DUI arrest independently from the court.

  11. Mark says:

    2 years into my 3 year probation for my first DUI, I was arrested for drunk in public. I had had a few drinks when I noticed a car accident outside my home, went out and asked the officer if the person involved in accident (who happened to be a friend of mine) was okay. He arrested me right then for crossing the street to ask him!

    I’ve completed DUI classes and have paid off the fine for the DUI. I’m thinking of pleading not guilty with a public defender. What will likely be the consequences for violating my probation and will the circumstances of my arrest effect the outcome? Thank You!

    San Bernardino County CA

    • Mark,

      Thank you for the great comment. Thank you for the new ad space. I will try to pay you back by giving you real, free info.

      If you can get that violation amended to an infraction, you are probably OK. Probably. One of your terms of probation was probably to abstain from alcohol. Maybe not.

      You should definitely work on a good outcome prior to pleading guilty.

      If you qualify for a public defender, they can help you try to get the prosecuor to make an offer of . . . . . .if this were my case (its not) . . . I would probably be thinking resolve it ASAP for an infraction Penal Code 415 if possible with a penalty of . . . credit for time served in jail and that is it . . .

      That is my idea. That is what I would shoot for in a quick dispo that would prevent a revocation of your probation because you got a new misdemeanor criminal conviction.

      El Bernardo does not have the money to put you in jail. The city cant even buy toilet paper. The bathroom in the courthouse has a rotting ceiling that falls on your head when you pee. Sometimes.

      And if you were charged of a 647f (CA Penal Code)one of the required elements is that you were unable to care for yourself or OTHERS!!! ! Here, you WERE CARING FOR OTHERS!!!!! Duh . . .Duh .. you were caring for others!

      You might be fully innocent. Does the prosecutor want to have trial over this case? Would the jury think “you dip whit prosecutors are wasting our last $10,000, idiots!”????? and set you free?

      Maybe you were charged with interfering with a police officer during his duties? That would be bad. Worse than 647f.

      Those are my thoughts. It might work out OK if you show up on time and dress like a tax payer. Maybe.

      But technically, a new misdemeanor conviction is a probation violation, and basis to revoke probation. And if it is alcohol related, it could be bad when you go back to see the judge who gave you probation to begin with.

      And a new misdemeanor conviction will have an effect on your ability to get an expungement in the future.

      You need an attorney to try to talk the prosecutor into an infraction . . . then, no worries. Maybe.

  12. Aileen says:

    Hello: I pleaded no contest to a DUI in 1997. I completed all terms of the probation and paid all required fees. I have had an unrestricted license for 14 years and have not had any further arrests or infractions. I’d like to expunge the DUI from my record and filed all the necessary forms, but I cannot find the proof of completion forms that I received 14yrs ago. The courthouse referred me to the Dept of Revenue Recovery to see if they could provide me with a receipt confirming I do not owe a balance on any fees, but they informed me they do not keep records prior to 2007. Can you please offer any suggestions on what else I can do to demonstrate proof that I’ve completed all terms of my probation and paid fees? Thanks in advance!

    • Aileen,

      Great question. Finally. Thank you for not telling me how many kids you have.

      I’d say just write up a declaration and state that you paid everything. Do you know what a declaration is? It is part 2 of the motion. Actually part 3. Part 1 is Notice to Court, Prosecutor, and all other interested parties. Part 2 is points and authorities (law and facts); Part 3 is the Declaration to support the facts you claim in Part 2.

      TO learn how to write a declaration properly, please use the example of the George Hincappie Affidavit in support of the USADA case against that fraud dope pushing fake hero Lance Armstrong. Those declarations (check out Dave Zabrinski’s and then ask yourself if Lance is a Criminal) are great examples to follow on structure of an admissible declaration or affidavit. A proper declaration is admissible evidence to the extent it is relevant because it is verified testimony (signed under penalty of perjury).

      Once you have the declaration – that will be the only evidence on that subject. There will be no dispute of it – unless the prosecutor thinks you did not pay. There would be an easy to look up warrant if you did not pay.

  13. FTA WARRANT ISSUED AND PROBATION VIOLATION ON DUI CASE IN ORANGE COUNTY. I AM IN SAN DIEGO AND HAVE ATTENNTDED CLASSES AS ORDERED BY COURT I HAD A COURT DATE ON THE 5TH OF OCT TO PROVIDE PROGRESS REVIEW FORVTHE COURT I MAILED AND FAXED RECORDS BUT CLERK DID NOT RECIEVE I KNOW HAVE A WARRANT AND PROBATION REVOKED.. HELP ME PLEASE

    • Lailanie,

      If yo had a court date scheduled to provide proof of compliance with court orders – you should have went in person.

      But the good news here is that you are on it quick. This can probably be fixed fast.

      I’d recommend that you hire our local OC Sponsor Attorney Mr. Mark Gallagher (attorneygallagher(at)gmail.com). I expect he will give you a free detailed review and quote for the work right away. He is good with these cases, and EZ to hire and talk to.

      If you cannot hire a private attorney to handle this problem for you today – then you need to go to the courthouse in person today at 1 pm and tell the court clerk in the criminal division you are there to take care of a warrant case.

      Do not wait another day. Everyday you wait makes the chances of a no jail result smaller.

  14. paul says:

    recently convicted (of charge a, not guilty on charge b) in a jury trial, have not been sentenced yet. considering asking for a new trial because a consciousness of guilt instruction was given for refusal of fsts (did chemical test) and i was disallowed to mention my background, being a law student who worked at the da’s office in arraignment court for misdemeanors such as duis at the time of arrest. seems outrageous to me that i was not allowed to fully explain my state of mind, and my refusal to do fsts was harped on as being an admission of guilt. sorry i knew i had the right to refuse? both of these rulings for this instruction and not allowing this information were made in limine in favor of the prosecutor. thoughts?

    • Paul,

      Thank you for the great question!

      For readers out there – Paul means that he was convicted of a violation of Vehicle Code 23152(a) – which is driving while under the influence of alcohol – regardless of the measured Blood Alcohol Content.

      A typical DUI prosecution in CA involves 2 charges – the “A” count as above – and the 23152(b) (“B Count”). The B count is the law that states it is illegal to drive at 0.08% BAC regardless of how good your driving is.

      OK – so paul here managed to beat the 0.08% BAC claim – beat the test somehow – but lost on the “driving while intoxicated” charge. That is the standard pattern sometimes.

      First thing I would say from a Defense Attorney’s point of view is that you should absolutely make a motion for a new trial Try everything. Dont give up until you run out of money and cash in your 401k(s) to exhaust every avenue of possible relief.

      Legal error in jury instructions is an error you can also appeal and seek a federal court writ on. (writ of mandate).

      Now I am not saying you are going to win, but that what defense attorneys do. Try everything. Until the client runs out of money. Unless you are the public defender. Then you try everything until there are no more reasonable options regardless of how much money the client has.

      Maybe state of mind is relevant to the issue of whether or not you violated the law when you refused the field sobriety tests. What if you knew that the location did not comply with the standards set out in the CHP DUI Enforcement manual? Did you check that? What if the ground was all jacked up and you knew that could affect the reliability of the tests? What if you were way, way too worried about passing traffic and trucks and safety to be able to focus on the officer’s confusing and jumbled instructions because of her accent?

      What if you were confused and did not understand what was going on because you were . . . were too .. .to.

      no, nevermind, dont use that one.

      Is your background something that should have been admitted? Probably not. I dont see how that would be relevant or how it would help you. And honestly – that is some career ending embarrassing crap. You probably dont want that info in a publicly available court transcript. Might want to keep that to yourself.

      Those are my thoughts.

  15. Jennifer says:

    I had a questionmy boyfriend just got his second DUI . He already did jail time and already sentenced, he was supposed to enroll for DUI school within 45 days but he could not get an appointment date until 3 days after he was suppose to enroll. Making him 3 days late enroll into DUI school. He went today and the school said they cannot let him go because the court paper is expired since he enrolled late. Do you know what the penalty is? Is there anything he can do?

    • Jennifer,

      Good question.

      Failing to sign up for court ordered classes on time in a typical DUI case is a probation violation. When that happens, generally the court will revoke probation completely and issue an arrest warrant. Then, the court waits until the defendant show up in court again. Once in court, the judge is free to re sentence the defendant on the original charges and there may also be a separate prosecution for the violation itself.

      It’s all bad, bad, bad.

      Solution? If you hire me to take this today, in court a like to work in – I would immediately go to court for him today (1:30 pm) and try to get the warrant recalled without bail, jail, or personal appearance. Then try to get probation reinstated. Then try to get the probation violation dismissed.

      If it didnt work with me alone, the client would have to go to court with me tomorrow morning at 8 am to try again.

      How much would I charge? That is a secret that varies with every case and every court. Today, I already drove through 3 hours of traffic (it’s only 10:49) so I might charge a lot. Have the B.D.M. email me for a real quote. (“BDM” = Budgeted Decision Maker, a.k.a person with money.)

      • If he cannot hire a private attorney today, he should go to the courthouse right now in person, and ask the court clerk for a walk in appearance on the 1:30 calendar for a “probation modification / warrant recall request”. Once in court, ask the judge for a new referral.

        If this is Sacramento County, you probably have to just skip that step and go straight to the sheriff’s office for a court date setting / jail consultation if he cannot hire a private attorney.

  16. Jimmy says:

    Hi I was convicted of a first offense misdemeanor DUI a little over a year ago, I completed everything that I was supposed to do. A couple days ago I got charged for drunk and disorderly, I am on 3 years summary probation and I know that drunk and disorderly is a misdemeanor, my mother picked me up as the cops had me arrested, they wrote a ticket but they did not give it to me. I know I need to go to the court and see when my court date is…my question is, I know this is a probation violation. What most likely happens in this situation when I go to court and is there anything I can do, like get an attorney (is that really necessary?) go to AA meetings before my court date to make myself look good. I’m really concerned about what this probation violation means, and if possible, can you tell me if I will just have to pay a fine or what will happen. The more detail the better, thank you.

    • Jimmy,

      Picking up a new criminal case while you are on probation is a violation of probation.

      The court can revoke your probation, and re sentence you on the original charge to jail (in addition to whatever penalty is imposed for the misdemeanor itself).

      Jail time is not required. But possible.

      If the court revokes your probation, you should hire an attorney immediately.

  17. Steve says:

    Thanks for all the professional insight. My question–if I do my jail time for third dui will I be allowed to take my legally prescribed pain meds for neuropathic paralysis drop foot? Can an attorney help me with that? Another poster mentioned this problem but didn’t get a straight answer from you because there was too much mealy mouth explanation and whining, etc.

    If I do DUI Court program and violate probation terms and it gets converted to jail will the jail time be escalated?

    Last question–is it ok to tell your atty the whole truth about anything you have done or is he required “not to know” because he would be “lying” or with holding if he defends you and he knows the things you are guilty of?

    • Steve,

      Woo hoo! 1 comment – 3 good questions. I am not going to feel bad about putting ads in this one

      Question 1:

      Are jail inmates allowed to take their legal prescriptions from a valid doctor while they are in custody? ANSWER = Yes. You just have to tell them at intake you have prescriptions. Make sure you have your doctor’s info ready to show them.

      Question 2:

      Does the jail time on a 3rd DUI increase if I elect probation (and they give it to me) and then I violate probation? ANSWER = Yes.

      If you violate misdemeanor probation, you have 2 problems. Problem 1 is that probation gets revoked. Then the judge is free to re sentence you on the original conviction up to the max allowed by statute. And they may want to punish you.

      Problem 2 is that you may also face a completely separate charge of a “violation of parole” as an illegal act itself, and you can be given jail time for that separately if convicted of it.

      Problem 3 if there is one, is the day after all of this happens.

      Question 3: Should I tell my attorney everything or will that screw him up?

      ANSWER. You need to tell your defense attorney everything and the entire truth. Everything you tell a defense attorney is confidential, private, secret, and protected by law form disclosure in almost any circumstance. (except if you sue your attorney over a fee dispute maybe).

      There are lots of reasons for this – including that he/she is the professional and you are the criminal. It is very unlikely that you completely understand what is important, and what is not. It is very unlikely that you understand fully what may come up in court, what the prosecutors are going to say, and what evidence or records they will find.

      An attorney’s main job in a criminal case is to protect you from jacking yourself up in court. But the attorney also has to make a determination of whether or not you have a defense that might work at trial – and then to advise you on whether or not that defense is going to work. And if the attorney is unable to make an accurate calculation of the chances at trial, because surprises are coming, the person who gets hurt is you.

      A criminal defense attorney has a legal and ethical obligation to not disclose anything you tell them – even if you admit to being guilty. Even if admitting other crimes.

      And if you really are guilty and you tell your attorney that you are guilty but you want to fight anyway, it’s totally ok. Happens all the time. And when it does, the Attorney just smiles inside and thinks “OK. Great! Another Constitutional Civil Rights Case.”

      When you have good facts, the attorney argues the facts.

      When you have bad facts, the attorney argues the law.

      When the attorney doesnt know the facts, or has the wrong facts, the attorney is just along for the ride.

      You should tell your defense attorney everything about prior bad acts that may affect your ability to testify under cross examination by a skilled prosecutor at trial. You should tell your attorney the truth about what that Hooter’s video is really going to show when you finally get it. You should tell your attorney everything about prior convictions.

      Couple of other points: You need to tell the attorney everything so that she/he can figure out how much to charge you. If the attorney way under charges you, bad things might happen. I dont know what, but you certainly dont want that problem.

      There is an exception to the Attorney Client Privilege rule involving evidence. If you tell your attorney about the location of evidence, or give him/her physical evidence (like a gun), the attorney may have to anonymously deliver that evidence to the prosecutors. In some cases.

      An attorney cannot help you lie on the witness stand under oath. But an attorney with full knowledge of the truth and all the facts can do you a great favor in some cases by saying: “Shut Up! Sit Down! You can not testify. It will not help you.”

  18. LynT says:

    I was just found guilty in Santa Cruz CA of a DUI after going thru a jury trial.
    All id like to find out are what are my options, I either hear do the jail time or do 10days in jail then the next 5 yrs on probation etc etc, But wheres the middle ground?
    Iv been trying since before I was charged (over 2 yrs due to having 3 tats removed) to get in to the Navy, I found that the Navy will still except me with 1 DUI on my record, but I CANT BE ON PROBATION.
    Id rather do the jail time if that means no probation, but is that my only option?

    • Lyn!

      Are you still in court? This from your Iphone? (normally dui cases are sentenced right after verdict).

      well, the judge may be pissed off and not offer your probation. That would solve the problem.

      Probation is optional. You can decline it. But what if you get into a fight tonight in the county jail because some dude with “Scrap Killer” tatooed on his fist needs to pay the tatoo artist? And a fight ensues, someone gets stabbed, and all of the sudden you go from DUI to felony?

      I hope you had an attorney for the trial. Ask him or her for advice. That is their job.

      I dont understand why you felt the need to tell me about your tattoos. That was sort of strange.

  19. Gilbert says:

    Hello. I was arrested for a dui december of 2011, I was involved in an accident but nobody was hurt and no other vehicles were involved (only mine) and hired a lawyer right after.He has been going to court for me and everything. He told me he got a good offer that i should accept, which involves jail time. my question is can i avoid jail time at all? By the way this happened in ventura county, CA

    • DortLaw says:

      Gilbert,

      Can you avoid jail time at all?

      Sure. Win a jury trial. But that costs a lot more than pleading guilty and accepting the prosecutor’s offer.

      And you might lose.

      A common defense at trial for a Driving Under the Influence involving a collision charge is called the “No Drive Defense”. It is based on the notion that the officer was not present to witness the accident, and only showed up afterwards. And the defendant’s right to remain silent in court.

      To get a conviction (generally) the government has to prove (I am simplifying a complex subject here) that you were intoxicated at the time of driving (prior to the officer’s arrival) and that your intoxication was a substantial causal factor in the accident. Was it a deer? We dont know. No witnesses there. Was it really the defendant who was driving? “We dont know. The officer showed up afterwards. There was no percipient witness testimony to establish the government’s burden to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that the defendant was in fact driving. . . .”

      You need a really good trial attorney to pull one of those off, however. And a jury trial in a typical DUI case in CA would last 3-4 days, and a lot of billable hours.

      Unless you are represented by the public defender’s office. Public Defenders are the most common source of the “No Drive” Defense Trials because the government pays their salary – not the poor client who doesnt have the money for a private attorney jury trial.

      The first DUI jury trial I did was in 1998. I charged the guy $500. We lost. It lasted 5 days. Now, 14 years later, I would charge by the hour.



  20. tina says:

    I live in CA, I got a DUI when I was 16. I’m 22 now, have my license and am no longer on probation. My question, am I still under the zero tolerance law?

    • DortLaw says:

      Tina,

      I hesitate to tell you the truth. But no. The legal limit for blood alcohol content in CA is 0.08% for all adults not on probation. See California Vehicle Code 23152(b)

      But – even with a low BAC like 0.05, you can still be charged with, and convicted of, driving under the influence (Vehicle Code sec 23152(a)) if you are showing signed of intoxication and are driving in an unsafe manner.

      And many forensic toxicologists (experts) will testify in court that a BAC of 0.03 can cause impairment and slower reactions for a driver.

      So bottom line – driving with any alcohol in your blood is not a good idea even if a book says it might be legal.

  21. alex says:

    forgot to mention the ticket and the dui are from different counties… thanks in advance

  22. alex says:

    i got an unlicencensed driver ticket in february. licence was suspended but it didn’t show up on the officer’s computer. i got my restricted licence a day after the ticket but was later suspended again because i couldn’t make my dui classes (car problems, i know, doesn’t matter) and was terminated from the program. i’ve since gone back to court and got reinstated in the dui classes. my question is, i have court on july 31 ( ive got as many extensions as i could) for the ticket but there is no way i can get another restricted license until i finish my dui program on september 10. since the cop wrote it down as an unlicenced driver will the suspension show up in court? will it be a probatiin violation?

  23. Eric says:

    Got a DUI the other night in orange county and it’s very unlikely I could beat it (simply got pulled over for headlights and did fine with the field sobriety but had something like a .23 BAC). My question is that I travel out of the country for work pretty often and may end up having to move out of the country for work as well in the next 3 – 6 months. If I’m put on probation for the DUI what are the chances that I’ll be allowed by the court/PO to travel or even move outside of the US? Would I have more luck just serving weekend jail time over the next few months instead of accepting probation?

    • DortLaw says:

      Eric,

      This is a good question that no one has asked before.

      The first thing I have to say is that everyone thinks they passed the FSTs. But you did not pass according to the officer (who was sober at the time). How do I know you didnt pass according to the officer? Because you got arrested.

      Now to the question: “Is it s a good idea to decline the court’s offer of probation (if it comes) and instead select jail time?”

      Answer: If you cannot complete the terms of probation as offered by the court correctly, you should tell the judge that fact in advance. Otherwise, you are just asking for a disaster. But selecting jail time is never a good idea – because bad things happen in jail. What if you get into a fight your first night because you have the wrong mustache and you catch a new felony case all of the sudden? Go to jail for a day and get a felony in the process? Yes, it happens. Or, you might have the bad luck of being picked out for a smilie f….

      no, on second thought, I wont even mention that.

      My advice: avoid jail at all costs.

      You should hire a private attorney to represent you. A licensed defense attorney can go to court for you, and negotiate terms of probation to try to get something that works for your situation. An attorney – if you pay them- can also go to court in the middle of your probation to request a modification of the terms of probation (such as an extra year to get those classes done) –

      I recommend that you contact our local SoCal attorney sponsor, Attorney Mark Gallagher. He is very good with these cases, and is friendly and easy to talk to. He can be reached at AttorneyGallagher (at) gmail.com. He will give you a free review and quote if he can help.

      Browse Our Attorney Drafted CA Self Help Forms

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  24. Lisa says:

    Hello,

    What if you are on dui probation (have a little over a yr left and no fines or anything -just have to write in) for Cali live on east coast and get arrested for suspicion of DUI? Will Cali find out if you don’t tell them?

    Thank you,
    Lisa

  25. Mindy says:

    I was pulled over in Nov 2011 for a DUI. BAC.12 Its now June 2012 . I was told it was held over for further investigations. Today I received a letter they are wanting me to go to court for an ARRAIGNMENT. I have already had my lic held by dmv for 4 months and filed an sr22. what else can they do ? I am taking this extreamly serious and I am pertified. Need advice.

  26. Trang says:

    Hello Mr. Dort,
    I hope you are well. I am really glad and thankful for all your information and knowledge. Here is my case, I got my first DUI offense about 3 weeks ago (Yolo county). The officer pulled me over in Davis, because I was over the bike lane when making a right turn slowly. He said he smelled alcohol from my breath. After all the physical tests, the officer had me do the breath test. After the first two tries which the officer did not approve, my BAC ended up with .09. So he took me back to the station and had me blow again, still .09. I stayed at the station for a few hours before they let me go after the final blow test 0.02. I just received a letter for court appearance including my BAC report (.09). However, in the report, it is stated by the officer that I said “NO” when he asked me if I consumed any alcohol that night. But I did say “YES” to him that night because I thought I was fine after taking a long rest before started driving. That is my FIRST concern here. Secondly, I have a question about my case. Will the court go a little “easy” on me ? (I am a full time female student at UC Davis with no prior conviction or record) And since my BAC is only a little bit over. I do aware that the court fines for DUI in Yolo county (about $3,000) is quite higher than other counties around. I have been contacting several law firms and DUI attorneys over the past few weeks to know what to expect as a 1st time DUI. Some attorney told me that I should just save my money for the court fees since Yolo county has expensive fines for DUI. So lastly, with my case as I described above, should I spend my money to hire a DUI attorney if court fines are possibly lowered and so is the case ? I can’t afford to pay (such as $3,000) for an attorney plus court fines ($3,000) . Or should I just wait till the court day and work with the public defender and pay my fines and do all the services that they ask me to do ?
    Thank you so much for your time and I apologize if my post is lengthy and confusing. I hope to see your response soon.

    • DortLaw says:

      Trang,

      You might be factually innocent! Holly crap!

      There could be something wrong with those test results. And at the very least, they show a falling BAC. And those breath testing machines have an inherent error rate of at least 0.02% (some experts in my contact list will testify to 0.05% error rates).

      You’re a full time student at UC Davis with no prior record? Sweet!@@@ That is a great fact. You are the first UC davis student ever in this position! They always go easy on college DUI Defendants!

      Just kidding. That’s not really true. No one really cares that you are a student in court.

      With a good trial attorney, you may be able to beat the conviction. These are the kind of facts that a trial attorney really wants to see.

      Dont worry about the cost of hiring an attorney – worry about the cost of a criminal conviction on your resume for the next 10 or 15 years. How about those apples? “Ever been convicted of a crime? ____Yes or ____No”….. Which box do you want to check on those job applications?

      Dont plead guilty until you have a skilled attorney review all of the evidence, including test machine records, maintenance records, police report, video fo the FSTs, and until you get a report from a defense attorney oriented expert on your side of the story and on the evidence against you.

      And unfortunately, (this part I hate) this in one of those cases where money makes a big difference. You should hire an attorney and an expert witness at the same time (the attorney can help with that part).

      And you have 10 days to schedule the DMV hearing. Did you do that yet? You have a borderline case – you might be innocent – dont assume anything.

      How much would I charge for a fist offense DUI with 0.09% BAC and include the DMV hearing? In Yolo?

      I would charge a flat fee of $4000 upto the point of a trial. If a jury trial is required, I would charge an extra $4000 for the trial.

      I would estimate that you should budget an additional $1500 for an expert witness to testify on your behalf.

      And $500 in miscellaneous fees (copying, printing of trial exhibits, etc).

      So the bottom line is to hire me as your defense attorney to do my best at trial for you – it would cost $10,000.

      If we win – we ave your future. And if we cannot win, we might be able to get a reduction in the charges along the way, or some kind of settlement agreement (plea agreement) that is good for you.

      Or, you can just role over and play dead if you want.

      Or, you can hire a “Dump Truck” attorney to walk you into court and to tell the judge you are going to just lay down and play dead.

      If all you want to do is avoid court, plead guilty, and get it done correctly and fast – I can do that for you for $1500.

      And those are real prices for my work that I will honor until . . . Friday.

      _________

      Schedule an Attorney Conference online.

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      • Trang says:

        Thank you for your quick response, Mr. Dort

        Yes, I already contacted the DMV for the 10 day hearing. I do understand that my future is very important. However, $10,000 is really out of my hands. I will need some time to reconsider your offer. I will contact you ASAP once I make my decision. Once again, thank you for all of your valuable work and knowledge.

  27. Topher says:

    I have been on my DUI Informal Probation for 1.5 years. I had just gotten pulled over for a traffic stop and violated my probation with a BAC of .01. I was issued a temporary license and citation with 1203.2 PC. I have kept up on payments and did my classes. What is the most likely consequence(s)?

  28. Morayma says:

    I have to show up for community service on the 20th of this month but I messed up the dates so now I’m seven days late I went back to get re-refered know I’m sacred to get jail time is their any way the judge can give me a secound chance.

    • Morayma,

      Go back to court AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (monday am) and the court clerk for a walk in appearance for a request to modify your probation (assuming that is what it was). Ask for a new completion date. Do not waste any time. Go immediately.

      Or, if you dont want to go because you are scared and nervous, hire an attorney and send the attorney to do the tough work for you.

  29. anony says:

    So this is my story. I was pulled over for speeding which allowed the cop to pull me over. I gave the cop all required documents. He said he smelled alcohol and had told him I was driving a friend home the passenger. He told me to get out the car and that is where he started to give me all those wacky tests. I blew into the test 3 times and he said with intimidation that I needed to blow into it harder as I did he said well pretty much he told me he was getting me for a suspicion of a dui (during the breathalyzer he never told me what it read). I was then cuffed and since they didn’t get a reading they asked if I wanted to do a breath test again or blood so I did the blood test, once that was done I was taken to jail. Now all I need to know is now what? yea I made a mistake and I am willing to accept my consequences although I have learned my lesson, I know there is nothing I can do about it or make the judge hear me out. My only scare is I don’t want to lose my job because with this. I work with disabled and love it there. Also, I was diagnosed with a disease years ago and need to pay off medical bills again like I said that’s why I’m scared to lose my job because if I do how will I pay them? I need to work in order to keep paying.. What can I do? I just received paperwork from dmv and they said my bac was .10 I cannot hire an attorney but I know I will need a public defender to represent me that day.

    • Anony,

      Classic DUI.

      If you have a job, you probably will not qualify for a public defender. The court does not care if a criminal defendant loses their job. Sorry to sound harsh, but that is the truth. Lots of people charged with crimes lose thier jobs because of the case.

      My advice? Do everything you can to hire a good private attorney in advance. Go to the pawnshop if you have to.

      At 0.10%, you’re near the point where there is something to fight about. Those breath testing machines have an inherent error rate of 0.02% or more according to some experts. Do not trust what the DMV says about your BAC.

      You have the right to a trial. You are presumed innocent. You might be innocent.

      Oh wait. You did the blood test? Crap. Well, same advice anyway.

  30. Eddy Jacobson says:

    Hey Chris,

    I was arrested for DUI in July 2009..All fines paid, community service completed, DUI classes completed, no other convictions or violations since then. My question is when can I stop the SR-22 insurance? Is it from the date of arrest of date of conviction from the court? That question remains with the end of probation, does it end at date of incident or conviction? Last question is a matter of getting my record sealed or expunged? I work in public safety and would like to see about getting the matter behind me. Thanks.

  31. Thong Xiong says:

    Hi there. I just got pulled over last night and got my first DUI. The policeman said that he saw me swerving and that my my back license plate light was off. I don’t remember myself swerving though. Anyways, he made me do the basic tests like “follow the finger,” hold my right/left feet up, and then the breathalyzer. I believed I passed all of them except for the breathalyzer. He said that my BAC level was .13 which is kinda high. But I kept telling him that I was fine the whole time. I talked to him regularly and didn’t even have any speech problems like a regular drunk would have. What can I do to appeal this? Will I have a chance even though my BAC level was pretty high? I don’t buy it.

    • Thong,

      With any misdemeanor criminal charge, including a driving under the influence charge in California, you have the right to a jury trial. Before a jury trial, you are presumed innocent.

      The first court date is called an “Arraignment”. At that first appearance, you can just say “I’m guilty” (Plead Guilty) if you want to, or you can say “I plead not guilty, and want to have a trial.”

      If you want a trial, the government has the burden of proving that you are guilty “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”, which is actually very difficult to prove unless there is a lot of bad evidence against you.

      You have the right to hire a private defense attorney to defend and represent your interests in court. You should hire a private defense attorney today. Right now.

      But if you cannot hire one, because you do not have the money and cannot borrow it, or sell your things, you can ask the court to appoint a “Public Defender” defense attorney for you. To apply for the public defender, you have to show up at the arraignment on time, and ask for the Public Defender.

      A private attorney can go to court for you, help you deal with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and start work before the Arraignment. Public Defenders cannot do that.

      Everyone thinks they pass those tests. And everyone thinks they are speaking just fine. Until they see the video. But the truth is (my defense attorney opinion) that many officers simply use the FSTs to justify giving you the breath test. My opinion? They are fake, subjective non scientific tests used to fill in blank pages of the police report. Not useful information.

      Want More Detail? Get a 1Hr. Attorney Conference (CA Only).

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    • Crystal The Pistol says:

      Seriously? Are you really thinking your gonna get out of a DUI with a BAC of.13 and a Crappy result on your field Sob. tests?!! Wow, I am amazed that people are that silly to think that they can drive with a BAC of .13 which= WASTED and get away with it! I know because I have 3, (THREE), DUI’s in S.D. County. My first was in 2003, Second, 2003 and third in 2007.

      I have actually learned my leson after 3 DUI’s without killing someone or My self. Take it from me, Take a cab or stay at home. You are DOOMED to get another DUI, Just Prey that you come out alive or the car you hit is alright! Count your blessings now! Take Care and Good Luck with all the fines and Crap you have to deal with,” Bummer”, atleast you have your Life and freedom!

  32. JD says:

    Although originally arrested for 11350 HS, these charges were dropped and replaced with the 23152(a) which I plead guilty to on Thursday. Its now Friday, the following evening and I’m wondering if it is likely that I am already officially “in the system” (I mean by that, the police system). Specifically, if I was to get “pulled over” this weekend for example, Would the police see that I am on probation for this DUI?

    Similarly, is my license likely to be known by police as suspended already? If not, how about over the weekend?

    Btw., this happened in the county of Los Angeles. I have not yet received notice from DMV of a suspension. Also, I have not, as a condition of my probation, had my license suspended by the courts. Am I assuming correctly that notice of suspension will come from the DMV next week?

    Thank you!!

    • JD,

      You need to contact the DMV driver safety office now to determine the status of your drivers license. DOnt confuse the court action and the DMV action against your drivers license. They are independent.

      They police will know immediately if your drivers license is suspended. Your drivers license was probably suspended 30 days after your arrest, but check with DMV now. Do not drive at all until you confirm the status of your drivers license with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Make sure they have your correct address.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    I am on probation for a misdeanor that has nothing to do with the DUI. I recieved my DUI a week ago. I refused the sobriety test and the breathalizer. Any thoughts on what I’m looking at? With my previous conviction it was wrong time wrong place and I payed all the fines. I got a lawyer last time but it proved to be a waste of money as I was tried with a group. Should I get a lawyer this time. Its costly. I’m entering a plea of guilty.

    • Elizabeth,

      Dont do anything before you talk to an attorney. If you were on probation, a DUI conviction is definitely a probation violation. Probation terms nearly always include a requirement that you “Obey all laws and orders of the court.” A new criminal conviction would definitely violate that standard term.

      And if you do get hammered with a probation violation, your probation is probably going to get revoked, and then the judge can re sentence you on the first case. And guess what you win if you cant complete probation correctly . . .

      As far your last attorney experience went – just because you go tried with a group of people does not mean the Attorney did not work for you. The court controls how defendants are tried based on the law, and sometimes there is nothing an attorney can do about it.

      Of course hiring an attorney to keep you out of jail is expensive. But for a moment just imagine how destructive a week or two in jail is to your standard of living. What if you have a defense that you dont know about? What if there is a way to negotiate some kind of sentence that would create a probation violation? What if there is an attorney out there that is really, really good at convincing judges to reinstate probation after a violation? What if there is an attorney out there that knows more about house arrest than everyone else? What if there is a defense attorney out that understands how to limit the damage from a refused set of those completely unfair subjective FST tests? What if . . .what if you have no idea what the true consequences of a guilty plea will be for you and your other case(s)? What if the cop was being paid to follow you by your ex boyfriend? (that kind of thing has actually happened in a recent DUI case).

      Ask yourself “What would Queen Elizabeth Do?” What would she do? Raise a Navy of a thousand ships and send them out across the channel to fight the threat. And for you, that means you need to get the help of a quality attorney. You can ask the court for time to talk to a private attorney before you enter any plea at all.

  34. Melissa says:

    Hi,
    I got a DUI in California in Feb 2010. I was assigned to MADD, DUI classes and fines. I signed up for DUI classes but they put me on medical leave because I was having too much anxiety. When I tried to go back to class they asked me to provide a letter from my psychiatrist saying I’m fit to go back to class. After 2 tries, my doctor only wrote a letter saying that they cannot give any medical release and the DUI classes referred me back to court. What can I tell the judge to let me get my license back? I’m planning to move to Wisconsin in a month and I’d really like to get my license back.

    Thank you for your help!

    • Melissa,

      If you cannot do the DUI classes, the DMV is not going to give you your drivers license back. There is pretty much nothing the judge can do about it that I know of. The drivers license suspension after a DUI in CA is handled by the DMV, and is not controlled by the court.

      But you may have a probation problem here that you are missing. If the judge ordered that you complete the classes as a term of your probation, you need to get into court in person to ask the judge to modify the terms of your probation to remove that from the list.

      If the classes are a term of your probation (I cannot tell for sure here) and you do not complete them on time, the judge is going to issue a warrant and revoke probation.

      So what should you do? If this were my case, I would probably go to court this morning in person, ask for a walking appearance or a scheduled date from the criminal division court clerk for a motion to modify terms of probation. Because I am a lawyer, I would write up a motion, but you probably do not have to do that. You can make the request orally once in court in front of the judge.

      Once there, I would tell the judge the classes cannot be done due to medical issues. I would expect the judge to delete that term from your probation, and tell you that you still have to do it for the DMV.

      Or the judge may say: “That is a DMV requirement only. You have to do it to get your drivers license reinstated. I did not order it as part of the probation specifically.”

      Do you have a clear list of the terms of your probation from the court? Probably not. Most courts are horrible about providing written terms.

      Except Orange County. They are excellent at that. Printed. No clerk’s hand writing. How it should be.

      So that is my best advice. Like always. Go to court now.

      If you are not sure if it is a term of probation from the court or not, you have to go in person and get it done right. Dont screw it up.

      What if you already screwed it up? Warrant already? Then I would say hire an attorney to do the work for you. If you cannot hire attorney (like our local LA Attorney Sponsor Mark Gallagher (attorneygallagher[at]gmail.com)) then you have to go to court now and ask the court clerk for a walk in appearance on a warrant case. They will give you instructions from there. Once in court, you can ask for a public defender to be appointed is you qualify.

      If you have a disability, you can request an accommodation from the court. I wrote an article on how to do it here somewhere.

  35. Paul says:

    Hey Chris I got my first DUI almost a year ago…..I blew a stop sign at 15mph ….I blew 0.11….no accident….first time DUI…..paid all the fines coz I plead guilty….finish my 3 months of classes and MADD and was clean for 5 months with the IID in my car……the big question is I want ask the judge in 1 month to have my 3 year probation reduce to 1 year so I can apply for my Citizenship here in U.S.A…..I have a green card and I would like to get married , but i don’t want to wait three years to apply for my citizenship to do this……
    So Chris any suggestions what i can tell the judge ? the best thing for lowering my probation ? Please let me know….

    • Paul,

      Well, you can hire an attorney to make a motion to terminate probation for you. I would probably charge about $800 for that in some counties.

      If you want to try to get it done yourself, you can use the self help form that I wrote for exactly this purpose: Motion for Early Termiantion of Probation.
      http://store.payloadz.com/go/?id=852939

      There is no way to guarantee it will work. You have a criminal conviction. You are being punished. You have to talk the judge into ending the punishment early.

      Related ARticle: How to End Misdemeanor Probation Early.

  36. Frank G says:

    I got my DUI a little over a month ago. I got pulled over because I didn’t realize 2 of my lights weren’t working, and it wasn’t until a little later that the officer smelled alcohol on me, I’m not even under the insurance of the car or registration. First time being arrested, and I’m scared. I have no money for an attorney, in fact, that’s why I started drinking that night, I was mad I had lost my job earlier that week, so I can’t even pay off any fines! I used the rest of my money to get the car back from the towing company. My court date is in a week from now so I assume it’s too late to even get an attorney even if I wanted. I want to know if I’m going to jail since I have no money to pay anything off. I blew 1.2 on the breathalyzer which is way high. I live in Yolo County. Please help! I don’t want to go to jail, I have a ton of medical issues that I can’t take care of in there.

    • Frank!

      Thanks for the comment.

      First thing I have to say is that you can show up on the first date and ask for time to hire an attorney – not a problem. And you can hire me in 1 day to go to Yolo on a standard DUI. Most of the time, an Attorney can call the court and say “I’m coming!!!” ” Or “I’m coming tomorrow, please hide the file for a few hours”.

      Spent all your money on getting the car out of jail? And you cant even drive it any more?

      Hum. Probably should have ditched the car, and spent the money on keeping you out of jail. I never understand why people tend to try to save their cars before they save their future. It’s a disease people! Screw the car. That is what got you into trouble to begin with. It’s not the drinking that screws you, it is the car. And you want your car back? To sit in the driveway? Or do you have a place for the Ignition Interlock Device already picked out?

      Anyway, everyone does it. I dont get it.

      You are probably a perfect candidate for my self help video on How to End Your Own DUI Case in CA without an Attorney. It is for people who just want to plead guilty and get on with life. Here is the link: http://store.payloadz.com/go/?id=945322. It’s not free, but almost considering how must work went into it.

      You can also go to the first court date on time and ask the court to appoint a public defender to help you if you are not sure what to do.

  37. Nicole says:

    My boyfriend is on probation for his second DUI he received in 2008 in Orange county. He was just pulled over and cited for speeding in Banning. He then found out (after going to DMV about his restrictions) that his license had been suspended by the DMV for not having form SR-22 on file. He filled out the form and his license is now reinstated. Since he was not cited for a suspended license can it be added on later, like if he has to make a court appearance, or can he only be charged for what he was cited for?

    • Nicole,

      This is a good question.

      Charges can be added later by the county prosecutor or the city attorney. And he can probably be charged with a probation violation if the court catches on.

      The way it works is this:

      Police can file misdemeanor and infraction cases on their own (without a prosecutor) by signing a citation, getting the defendant to sign the citation, and filing it with the court.

      But in more serious cases, or where there are probation issues, the police merely recommend charges that are forwarded to the prosecutor for a final filing via a document called a “Complaint” instead of a citation.

      A Complaint can replace a citation at any time a case is pending (in general – there are some limits) and thereby change the charges.

      Charges can be changed later to reduce or increase penalties based upon the evidence and/or agreement of all the parties (Plea agreement or “Dispo agreement”).

      That was a good question. Finally.

      • Nicole,

        I need to add to this:

        If it turns out later that he is charged with the nasty form of driving on a suspended drivers license (Vehicle Code sec 14601.2) he is facing at least 10 days in jail MINIMUM. And on top of that, they may revoke his probation, and on a 2nd DUI, 60 days in jail for that problem would not be uncommon.

        So – if they do add any charges besides traffic infractions, he needs to ask for time to hire an attorney and hire an attorney to help that day. Quality help might make a huge difference in this case.

  38. aracelia says:

    Hello Christopher.
    On New Years of this year I got a DUI. I am 18 years old and it is the very first thing on my record ever. The reason why I got pulled over was because my friend didn’t have her seat belt on right. The cop said he smelled alcohol so asked me to do some tests. I didn’t refuse to do them but he still asked me to do the breath blowing test. I didn’t refuse to that either. But that’s when it all went bad. I got a misdemeanor DUI and an infraction for the seat belt and an infraction for having an open container. However, marijuana or any type of drugs were found. My question is, what should I expect in court? I really need my license to get to work and school. I am a current high school student and medical assistant student as well. I’ve held my job for 2 years. Is there any way I can apply for a restricted license? Should I hire a lawyer or just plead guilty? I am a marijuana user and was wondering if I would get a drug test on the court date which is coming up on March 1st. Your help and opinions would be extremely helpful.

    CORRECTION
    *however, marijuana or any type of drugs were NOT found.

    • Aracelia,

      Yes, you should hire an attorney. There is no way in the world a high school student can effectively represent themselves in a criminal case. And you have a slight stoner smell to your question.

      Do not just walk in and plead guilty. Get an attorney to represent you before you make any decisions on a plea.

      What should you expect in court? Well – there will be a Prosecutor who will be the person paid by the government to try to put you in jail. There will be a bailiff, holding a loaded gun on his hip and watching everything. There will be a lot of scared people, and some scary people. Maybe some really scary people wearing Orange Jump Suits and chains on one side of the courtroom.

      There will be a judge, and he or she is not going to be friendly to you.

      You will be read a chit load of rights in rapid fire succession, and you will not really understand any of it before the judge starts asking you questions like “Do you understand the charges against you?” and then he/she is going to look at you like you are going to jail if you hesitate at all to say yes, which is what they want you to say.”

      If you really want to throw a wrench in things – when the judge asks you if you understand everything – try saying “No I dont understand any of this.” Let me know what happens.

      As for your drivers license, you should hire an attorney immediately to start working on the DMV issue if you want any chance of saving your license. But it would be a very uphill battle if you are under 21. You are probably going to lose your drivers license for a long time, and there is probably no way to get you a restricted license. The rules are much harsher on people under 21 for CA DUI DMV suspensions.

      But you have to take action within 10 days of the arrest to have any chance at all at the license. So you need to hire an attorney within a few days of being arrested.
      What else? You are going to have multiple charges, and that is going to confuse you. Most DUIs involved 2 criminal charges that over lap – and that is one reason why you do not want to just walk in and plead guilty.

      You might have an illegal stop here that is worth challenging.

      Exercise your right to remain silent.

      I cant give you a quote on this case because you did not mention the county. BUt if you want one from me, email me at cdort(at)dortlaw.com.

  39. Bryan says:

    Hello, I just got my first dui 2 days ago, I was not pulled over, the police were called to my residence for a peace disturbance. I left for approx 6 minutes, came back home, parked my car was nearly to my gate when around 300 feet I see one spotlight come on then the other side. they were telling me to put my hands in the air. “the peace disturbance was my fault and I was suicidal and I discharged a starter pistol/blank gun in my room. the officers had to be under the impression I had a fire arm or I wouldnt have had guns drawn on me. “didnt have the firearm” the officer stated in his report that he was outside my residence “this is false he was 5 houses down and may have not even been on my street yet” from the time I exited my car nearly 45 seconds had passed before I got lit up with the spotlights. my mother was across the street and she saw no police vehicles when I pulled up. the gave me the follow the pen test, but didnt have me blow the breathalizer till I was taken to station .08 and I also submitted to a blood test. all I want to know is what should I plead this is a whole new game for me as I have never been arrested for anything and have no moving violations. the officer said he saw me pull up to my residence, but if a firearm could have been present as far as they know, I dont believe they would have let me get out of the car much less wait at least 45 seconds to hit me with the spotlights. Im scared to death I mean my life has been bad the last couple years, but this has brought things to the worst they have ever been. im in kern county. can I request probation? I have a severe back injury and I would rather die than goto jail and not be able to take my prescribed pain medication. I can harly walk without them. god bless you sir and I apologize if I have left anything useful out. Im not in too good of shape mentally at the moment and cant think strait. I havent ate since this happend and im a mess. so once again Im sorry if I left anything out and thank you for any advice you can help me with. I swear to you I will donate money to you just from what I have been able to read so far. I cant afford a lawyer, but when Im in better shape I will send you something to say thanks on my behalf and the other peoples behalfs that you took the time to answer their questions. thank you again sir!!

    • Bryan says:

      I didnt type that right. I was out of the vehicle approx 15 feet away from it walking twards where the officers appeared. my mom even had time to ask me what I was doing from where she was across the street, and I told her I had forgot my ciggarettes. the officer also stated I had slurred speech and my eyes were red. I had been crying and I also take clonazepam for back pain. I just dont think the police car was even on my street when I parked, I would think they would have lit me up with spotlights or flew up behind me and told me to exit the vehicle in a manner with my hands up facing away from them for their own safety. thank you again

    • Bryan,

      Too long, too complicated. 90% of it is useless info

  40. Marc says:

    After the 3 years probation is up
    do I need to do anything? Thanks

  41. Jay says:

    Hi Christopher,

    I got a DUI last week and blew a .011. First offense.

    My questions is i think i was pulled over without doing anything illegal.

    I was driving 35 speedlimit on a city street at 12:30 AM , 2 guys started to cross that street and there was no crosswalk. I braked and downshifted and my car made exhaust noise. Cops were right across the guys at a seven eleven store at this time.

    I went about a mile (right turn, left turn and right turn) before they pulled me over and they first thing the cop said was “were you trying to show off to the girls(in my car).

    Do I have a case of an illegal stop?

    • Jay,

      I cannot answer your question, because you did not tell me the most important fact: What did the officer list as the reason for hte stop in the police report?” That is all that matters. Your side of the story does not matter, because you are not going to have a chance to tell it. Unless:

      Assuming a CA case:

      You challenge the stop in a Penal Code section 1538.5 motion prior to trial AND you decide to testify at that hearing.

      You think the police officer pulled you over for that reason. But what if weeks from now you find out the police officer claimed your car looked like a stolen car? What if the cop claims he saw you without a seat belt? What if he claims you ran a stop sign, but you were actually driving the wrong way on a one way street and because of that fact, it was totally impossible for a stop sign to be where the officer claimed it was. (That has actually happened and become a winning 1538.5 motion.)

      If you want to challenge the legality of the stop, you need to make a motion to supress under PC 1538.5 and if you win, you win your case (generally). Unless the prosecutor appeals and wins that.

      Can you do it on your own, representing yourself, without a skilled trial attorney? Sure. No problem. You’ll win. Try it. Actually, no dont try it. That was mean on my part. Sorry.

      Hire a good attorney. But that attorney is going to tell you that you cannot testify at that 1538.5 hearing because it would screw up the entire case. So, practically, I dont see how you get your side of the story into evidence. You have to try to catch the cop making something up.

      But on the flip side (advanced comment reply here) – running a PC 1538.5 motion is a great way to get a first shot at cross examination of the police officer, and to lock in testimony. Also a great device for getting evidence out early. Why are they not more common? Because most DUI attorneys want to take your money and end the case ASAP. And most public efenders have way, way too many cases. Let the law clerks do the 1539.5 motions – that is how they think. Especially if it is a loser to start. Like the 300 others in the files.

      Maybe it is better to hire a DUI attorney and pay them by the hour – so that you can tell them to do that 1538.5 work even if they dont think it will win. Classic example here of why money does in fact make a difference in criminal cases.

  42. david says:

    I just got a dui last week… I wrecked my car luckily it didn’t involve any other parties I blew a .14. I feel like the case is pretty cut and dry so I don’t feel like I should fight it. What do you think would be my best course of action?… I don’t have enough money to hire an attorney, so I’ve been thinking of just going in and pleading guilty. This was in Burbank, CA that I got the dui.

    • David,

      Any time there is an accident involved in a DUI case, it can get worse later.

      With incomplete facts, on something like this, I would probably go in, confirm the charges before the courtroom door even opened, and if there was just a simple 23152(a) / 23152(b) charge(s) without any enhancements for property damage, injuries, or high BAC, I would probably beg the other attorneys there to let me go first, and I would actually plead guilty before the judge was even done saying hello. Then I would run out, and be gone like a flash of dust in front of a vacum cleaner.

      You should read my article on how to plead guilty to your own DUI and buy the video ($50) I made on the topic so that you have a chance of not getting railroaded by charge you dont understand.

      That is my best advice if you cannot do the right thing, which is hire a private attorney to go to court for you while you watch sports center on your couch.

    • David,

      It is 4:22 on 1/1/2012. I just took a break from my writing of this free legal self help (yes I am working to help the poor on a holiday). And this year I have committed to writing more detailed info here. Most people wont understand it, but who really cares? As long as they click on the ads.

      Anyway, during my break in the garage, I suddenly realized there is an opportunity here in your comment to discuss a very real danger that exists for those like you who assume they are guilty and think they cannot afford an attorney.

      Ok. Say you go to your arraignment. You arrive on time. You find your courtroom assignment listed on the master calendar on the wall. 3rd FL, Department 158. You get there, it’s not crowded, and Nice! Sweet! Guess it pays to have an accident. Ha. Private Idaho.

      Because you dont know what you are doing, you dont realize that you are in a felony courtroom, not the basement Room 101 where they do first offense DUI cases.

      Judge comes in, says hello. Calls your case first. You’re stoked because I told you to plead guilty fast and get out. He asks if you have an attorney. Do you want one? No? You sure? OK.

      They dont want to spend county pension money on defending your ass.

      Judge: “How do you plead to count 1: a violation of Penal Code section 187; and Count 2: a violation of CA Vehicle Code 23152(a)?”

      You: “Guilty”.

      Judge: “You know you have a lot of rights, the right to a jury trial , the right to cross examine, . . . . .”

      You: “Yea, yea, yea, just get on with it. Guilty, freaking guilty. I freakin did it and want to go. I was drinking. I stopped drinking yesterday. Feels great. Nice court room, but I have to go, I’m parked in a metered space.”

      Judge: “OK, do the People declare that there is a factual basis for the charges?”

      DA: Yes, your honor, a victim of a Penal Code 187 violation was found stuck to some Jamacan rose bushes across the street from the scene.”

      Surprise! You accidentally plead guilty to MURDER! You are freaking innocent! But they found a dead body in the roses!!!!! Crap. What if that body has 15 bullet holes they did not find yet? You freakin plead guilty, moron!

      Now that is an extreme example – but you cannot just assume that the prosecutor is going to charge you with what you actually did. What if they make something up? What if there are false charges because you are from the Middle East? What if they accuse you of a prior conviction that you actually got dismissed?

      People get over charged, or falsely charged in real life. It happens. Sometimes, the government pulls innocent people out of bed and kills them. It happens. Dont trust prosecutors to do everything right.

      So, bottom line, you cannot just plan on pleading guilty before you get there. That’s why you have to pay me $50 to see the video. You have to learn to think “If I can get out of here with a “such and such” it will be acceptable to me.”

  43. Kaia says:

    Hi,
    So I am very scared. I got a DUI a year ago and already had a misdemeaner from when I was a young silly kid. I went through a program and finished it for the misdemeaner. I was supposed to do the DUI program for three months so that I could get my license back, as the idiot I am I have been putting it off for awhile. Two months ago I was moving houses and was driving my car. I got pulled over for a broken windsheild, they searched my car, found marijauna (not mine, but that is besides the case) and was cited a driving without my license. Am I going to go to jail?
    Thanks

  44. Brad says:

    Hello,
    I was just charged with a dui misdemeanor. i am underage and had a b.a.c. of .064. Is there a chance i can fight it down to an infraction? The arresting officer gave me a misdemeanor based on “personal experience” feeling I was unable to operate a vehicle, but I fall within the limit of an infraction. I have a court date set in early February.

  45. Dev says:

    I just got my 1st and last DUI last friday. I blew a .16. I just started an informal probation in october for driving without a license. I had an oregon license and lived in california for longer than 6 months, I was pulled over and the judge gave me the probation for 2 years. Since I just got the DUI will I be punished differently? I have scheduled my DMV hearing for January 27th. I was going to plea guilty, and take care of the DUI myself. Will the violation of that informal probation cause me more severe punishment? Should I seek legal counsel?

    • Dev,

      Yes, you can be punished differently.

      If you get charged with a crime while on probation in CA, which typically happens is this: 1) your probation gets revoked on the original case; 2) the judge gets to re sentence you on the original case; 3) you get charged with a separate probation violation as a separate case; 4) you get charged with the new DUI, and the judge is going to know that you already completely blew your chance at probation, and therefore a new probation would be completely pointless, which leaves only the jail option.

      Basically, you have at least doubled your jail time exposure. And you have disqualified yourself from probation.

      Now that does not mean there is a good result in there somewhere, but you are in a chit load of trouble. You are up chit creek without a paddle.

      Should you seek legal counsel? Well, how dumb are you?

      Here is the good news: you have already sought legal counsel and I am going to tell you what to do.

      Setting the DMV hearing was a good idea, but you cannot do it yourself and expect a good result. You need to hire a private attorney prior to that hearing date.

      If you hire a private attorney, they can handle all of the cases and DMV hearing together in a coordinated way.

      If you do not have access to the resources needed to hire a private attorney, you can apply for a public defender appointment once you get into court. But a public defender will not help you with the DMV problems.

      Was your CA driving privilege suspended also? Hopefully not. Having an OR license will not help at all here.

      Well, you did not tell me where it was, so I can not give you a quote. I have handled at least a hundred of these “2x14601PVDUI” cases in the last 14 years. That is what my computer calls them. I charge difference prices for different courts because some courts suck asx, and some courts actually cost way more to work in than others (LA v. Sierra County). And I always triple my fees for San Bernardino, because that place really sucks.

      But if you are in a nice county where I work, I can totally help you at a reasonable price. send details to cdort (at) dortlaw.com for quote / review.

      • Dev,

        One last think:

        Sometimes people in your situation get lucky, and the court that issued the probation never finds out about the new arrest because they are far away, or not paying attention. Dont tell anyone you are on probation (except an attorney working for you).

  46. Daniel says:

    I live in Fresno, CA. First DUI in Sacramento County in May 2009. Convicted in Aug 2009. Pulled over in Fresno and car impounded for driving on suspended license with 0.06 blood alcohol content in Dec 2009.
    Completed all DUI requirements consisting of: 3 month DUI class, paid DUI ticket, paid suspended license ticket, completed community service.
    No drinking or driving since Dec 2009.
    No other pending legal actions.
    Desire to get early probation termination and DUI expungement for admittance in Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Power Pathways Veteran program beginning in May 2011 at Fresno City College.
    Currently full-time student at Fresno City College (including summer school) since Jan 2010.
    Is there any chance at all I can make that class?
    I didn’t get any kind of probation violation paperwork in the mail or anything.
    Is this because of the different counties?
    Do I have a warrant to see the judge or jail in Sacramento, but just don’t know it? Thanks for the help.

    • Daniel,

      This is actually a good question, if I use my magic powers of reading between the lines.

      I like how you left out the part about what happened with the Fresno Driving on a Suspended Drivers License case (Veh. Code 14601.2 I assume). You told me you were pulled over, you told me about your BAC level at the time, you told me that your car was impounded (which does not matter at all to the story), but you failed completely to tell me what happened when you went to court. Were you convicted of the 14601.2? Did you do the 10 days minimum jail time?

      Since you did not mention any of that, I’d have to say that there is probably warrant for your arrest on that case in Fresno. At the least. And it should have been a probation violation and revocation of probation in Sac if I have the facts right. Maybe Sac never found out?

      You can look up your case in Sac on the Sacramento County Superior Court’s criminal division web site. You may not be able to understand it however, because unlike Ventura County, which uses real english in case reports, Sac uses all sorts of abbreviations and codes that you have to figure out. And unlike Orange County, San Diego County, Ventura County, and other more civilized courts, Sacramento Superior Court will not give you any information on line or over the phone on warrants. Basically – they suck and intentionally make it hard for a person like you to figure this out without having to pay a person like me.

      Too bad this was not Ventura County.

      Fresno problem? They are even worse. Fresno is the Los Banos of Sacramento. You have to go there in person and ask the court clerk in person for a status on you case.

      and go from there.

      If you can get a little more detail on the cases, I can give you a free case(s) review and quote for my fees to resolve the problems for you. email details to cdort(at)dortlaw.

      OK – that is my best reply based on incomplete info.

  47. Stef says:

    I came across this blog, hoping you can shed some light on my situation.

    I got my first DUI on 10/2009, completed all the requirements and currently on informal probation that will expire on 10/2012. About 3 weeks ago, I was speeding, got pulled over, conducted the field sobriety test, submitted to a breath test, BAC .025, issued an infraction ticket for violating DUI probation, no speeding ticket, car was not impounded, and they let me go as long as someone picked me up.

    Complete idiot I am; I know. I’ve been trying to research this issue and have not been able to find any insight.

    Will I go to jail? Will they give me a 2nd DUI even though I was not arrested? What should I expect? I have a DMV hearing to contest next month and my court date is the month after.

    Thank you,

    • Stef,

      Great question.

      So you got caught with alcohol in your blood, but less than the legal limit for people not on probation. Sounds like they took the measurement from a portable machine.

      Oh Man! I can beat this case! Those portable machines are not reliable and probably not admissible with the right challenge.

      I guess we should point out that one of your terms of probation was probably “Do Not Drive With Any Measurable Amount of Alcohol in your blood.”

      Here is what is probably going to happen:

      That citation was not for an infraction. Probation violations are real crimes, not infractions.

      I would expect the court to revoke your probation to start, and then be free to re sentence you on the DUI charge. Jail time is definitely possible.

      But you have a right to a hearing to see if they can prove up the violation. And this is a weak ass case.

      What you want is a complete dismissal of the charge, or a simple reinstatement of probation with a warning.

      If you admit a probation violation, or get convicted of one after a hearing, it will screw up your chances of getting an expungement after probation is over.

      CRAP! too mad you did not read my article on How to End DUI Probation Early before this happened (and used my form). Crap. I tried to help you avoid this problem, and you did not even know it!

      You might be able to just walk in, admit guilt, get a warning and leave. But you do not want to do that because the facts are weak, weak, weak, and because it will screw up your expungement options.

      If you were to hire me to handle this case, I’d be looking for a complete dismissal.

      • Stef says:

        Chris,

        Thanks for the reply.

        The ticket says ‘infraction’ though and not misdemeanor so I’m a bit confused. I didn’t get arrested or detained either.

        I’m also concerned about the dmv hearing I have because I cannot have my license suspended due to the nature of my work.

        What steps do I need to take to find out more information on your services?

        Thanks again,

  48. Mark says:

    Actually please don’t publish my last name. Thanks.

  49. Mark says:

    Great blog. Thanks for answering everyone’s (sometimes sloppy) questions.

    My question is regarding probable cause (or lack thereof). Do cops, because they’re bored or whatever, ever run plates and finding out that the car is registered to someone on probation, pull the car over over to see whether the driver has any alcohol in his or her system?

    • Mark,

      Great question.

      Hell YES! They are not allowed to, but I have been personally told by multiple police officers about how they do that – AND THEN AFTERWARDS COME UP WITH A VIOLATION TO JUSTIFY A STOP.

      But if they actually do find a violation, like a trailer ball blocking a view of your license plate (classic), there is nothing you can effectively do about it, because they will never admit they wanted to pull the car over before they found a violation of law.

      Many police departments are now actually using high capacity – super fast digital license plate scanners to do exactly that all day long. They claim they are looking for stolen vehicles, but the truth is different.

      In a real criminal case, a good defense attorney will often run a suppression motion (Penal Code 1538.5) to challenge the legality of a vehicle stop even if they have little chance of winning, so that they can get a first chance to cross examine the officer in court and see how: 1) he/she will react to questions; and 2) to get “discovery” on the record under oath.

      Another example of where it comes up:

      If a person gets a citation for driving with a suspended drivers license (VC 14601.1) and the court forces a misdemeanor, running a PC 1538.5 motion to challenge the stop is a good tactic because there is probably no real documentation of the reason for the stop in a police report – and the police cannot legally stop a car simple because it is owned by someone with a suspended drivers license when they have no “specific and reasonably articulatable facts that would lead a reasonable office in the same situation to believe” the actual driver was in fact breaking the law.

  50. anna says:

    i just got my first dui and i do not want probation hanging over my head, if i take straight jail time what am i looking at? this is my first time ever being arrested and my first dui

    • Anna,

      You can refuse probation. The judge can give you anything up to 1 year in jail if there is only 1 misdemeanor charge.

      I tell everyone it is a bad idea. That is especially true now that were are in the middle of “realignment” of the correction system which is where CA is trying to comply with Supreme Court Orders requiring a reduction in the prison population. What this means is that 30,000 or so prison inmates are going to be sent to the county jails in the next few days.

      Any time you are in jail, you can be stabbed at any moment. And its real ez to pick up new felony charges while in jail if you happen to end up on the bad end of a fight.

      Imagine this: you choose jail. Your third night there your mate steals your pillow and asks you for some clean socks. Fight results, everyone gets new assault charges. You thought you had a dui. now you caught a possible felony.

      It happens. Jail is not safe.

  51. Max says:

    I had community service for my first DUI but i had a medical problem and i couldn’t make it on the time i was supposed to complete my community service but i filled out a form that court wanted me to fill out, which called “MCR/4″ , I printed the form out filled it out and faxed it over like they wanted me to (I live 8 hours away from the court) ,,,Are they going to give me time in jail I’m very scared please let me know!

  52. JR says:

    Wow. Incredibly useful advice. I just got a DUI and was absolutely creeped out to get like 15 DUI lawyer solicitations in the mail.

    It’s great to see a DUI lawyer who makes it clear he’s available for business, but doesn’t angle for it, instead opting to give clear, straight responses and advice.

    I can comply with any probation terms, no matter how demanding, and I don’t want to do jail time beyond my single night in a cell.

    I blew a .13 three days ago and basically feel like getting a lawyer just isn’t right, at this point, for me. It’s my first conviction and I don’t disagree with my arrest or with the state’s and other motorists’ right to administer punishment.

    So … I just want to say in court that I’m guilty and will do whatever’s required to make amends.

    I don’t know. I want a lawyer if I need one, but these mailings strike me as so weird and opportunistic.

    Anyhow, thanks for just doing your job and making info available. I hope you get plenty of clients.

    I don’t see a big reason for me to get a lawyer. I just want to pay my fines and do community service and not be an idiot again.

    Hope that makes sense.

    Thanks again for being the only Web site I found that includes a huge helping of common sense and non-scammy-ness.

    JR

    • JR,

      Thanks for the great comment.

      If you have a DUI case, and you really just want to plead guilty with out a lawyer and just do it correctly, you should check out my self help video:

      How to Plead Guilty to your Own CA DUI.

      I charge $50 for download of the video – which is a lot less than an Attorney charges. And I tried to pack it with detailed information that you can review the night before and then allows you to understand everything that happens in a DUI plea, including review of the waiver forms involved, the questions the judge will ask you.

      But if you hire a private attorney, you can avoid court. You can hire an attorney to make a single court appearance at the Arraignment to plead guilty for you. You have to ask about that specifically when getting a quote from an Attorney, because most attorneys would want you to pay for a trial and all sorts of pre trial smoke and mirrors.

  53. Jeannie says:

    Christopher,

    This isn’t my offense but I do know most details and wanted to know what to expect from the courts. 1st DUI offense blowing at .22 back in February I believe. Probation sentencing was 2700 in fines, alcohol classes and 241 hrs community service. I’m not sure of the suspended jail time.

    From what I was told by the offender if they do the community service hrs they won’t have to pay the fine. Is that true? Also they started the CS hrs but haven’t completed them and have already asked for 1 extension. They still won’t be able to complete the hrs by that extension. Will the courts give them a 2nd extension? Will the hrs that they have completed still count, if they don’t complete all the hrs? Unfortunately they haven’t signed up for the alcohol classes due to money issues (I know the courts don’t care).

    So they pretty much haven’t really followed their terms of misdemeanor probation. I don’t think a warrant has been sent out in their name yet. What can they do to keep that from happening and can they avoid jail time?

    • Jeannie,

      I cant really answer your question, because it depends on way too many variables.

      But I can say this: Probation is an optional alternative to straight jail time. The defendant is only allowed probation if they can comply with the terms of probation (which are actually court orders).

      If you cannot complete the terms of probation (even if it is because you dont have any money for the classes) – the solution to the problem is straight jail time.

      I wish this were not true but it is: Probation is for people who have the time, money, and organizational skills to comply with the court orders. If you cannot comply, probation is not for you.

      How to avoid jail time? Do exactly what the judge tells you to do on time. That is they only answer.

      If you cannot comply on time, get into court in person prior to the deadline to ask for more time. If the judge says no more time – jail is the next step.

      If a defendant wants to know if a warrant has been issued in a case, you need to contact the court clerk for the courthouse where the case is pending. The court is the only reliable source of info on warrants.

      The good news about choosing straight jail time over probation? If you get out without new charges for fighting or without being stabbed – your cases is completely over. No 3 or 5 years of court orders to follow.

  54. Sarah says:

    I got a 1st offense DUI, misdemeanor about 4 months ago. I blew a .10. The court gave me a typical sentence with community service, 15 weeks of dui classes, fines, and 3 years informal probation. I know I made a stupid mistake and the consequences could have been much worse and I learned my lesson, but I know I still deserve a punishment. I completed my community service, am trying to pay off my fines before the end of the year and am almost finished with the dui classes. I really want to join the Navy to do something good with my life, but I think that the probation disqualifies me, which makes me extremely upset. This DUI has screwed up pretty much every aspect of my life already, and I have learned my lesson, but it seems as though I don’t even get a chance to make my life better. It’s as if the court has only set me up to fail again rather than giving me a chance to make things right. Is there any way around this? I’m 24 years old, btw. Thanks.

    • Sara,

      You can refuse probation and do straight jail time instead of complying with the terms of probation.

      But since you elected probation, you are stuck with it. There is a way to end probation early in CA (if the judge approves it). You can hire me to make a Motion to Terminate Probation, for about $1500 or you can try to do it yourself. I wrote a legal self help form for that purpose, which you might want to check out. http://store.payloadz.com/go/?id=852939

      Some day I am going to raise the price on that thing.

  55. Christine says:

    I just received a warrant in the mail for a probation violation on my DUI. I’m in San Diego County, CA. My DUI is a little over 2 years old. It was my second. I went through a rough divorce patch and handled it poorly. I was ordered to do an 18 month OHS program and community service and my license was suspended. Being unable to do the requirements on time since I was in school all day every day, I got an extension. I did get pulled over while driving and got a driving on a suspended. Which got me 100 hours of community service. I have since been doing public transportation and biking everywhere. I recently made the most self destructive mistake and showed up to my first OHS meeting with alcohol in my system. I had hardly been drinking at all but had gone through a breakup with my boyfriend the day before and, again, handled it poorly. They dismissed me from the program and reported it to the court about a month ago. I just received the warrant today. I have been doing very well and not drinking. I am involved in SMART Recovery and am looking to start a meeting in my town. I am volunteering with the special needs students at the high school, tutoring them in English and comprehension. I really have been feeling that I am starting on a great path and feeling great. If I go to jail for this, it will effect everything so negatively. I have 2 kids, one with Autism and a terminal genetic disease. I am divorced and their father is a doctor who works incredibly long hours. It will be a very bad thing if I am not around. I also have no money for an attorney. Do I have a chance at all of avoiding jail time?

    • Christine, Thank you for the real question with useful details. I have to read it 2x – but I will, because it is a real question.

      Well, it sounds like – let me try to boil this down -

      You were on probation for 2nd DUI in San Diego.
      Violated probation by driving with a suspend drivers license, got probation reinstated and sentenced to community service;
      Got expelled from court ordered classes due to consumption of alcohol prior to class;
      Warrant issued for 1) probation revoked again; 2) probably 2 probation violation charges (alcohol consumption and class problem)

      OK- I am going to try to give you free advice, but it is not going to be pretty – useful but not pretty.

      The first thing I have to say is you need to get focused on the real problem – which is the warrant. The court wants you in jail, and then in court NOW. Like today. So you have to do something today. This is a good start.

      It does not matter why you were drinking at all;
      It does not matter that you are in SMART Recovery;
      It does not matter that you are volunteering;
      It does not matter that going to jail will affect you negatively (it is punishment after all);
      It does not matter that you have kids (there are lots of parents in jail);
      It does not matter that your ex husband works long hours;
      It does not matter that you do not have money for an attorney;

      Now that we are through that part – forget about all of that part of the story. None of it matters, none of it will help you avoid jail.

      What will help you avoid jail (if possible) is this: you need to either 1) hire an attorney today to go to court for you and get the case back on the court’s calendar for a Probation Violation arraignment; or 2) go to court yourself tomorrow at 8 am and tell the court clerk (criminal division) that you are there to take care of a warrant case.

      Those are your only 2 options.

      If I were you, I would be doing everything I can to hire a private attorney to help me because: 1) an attorney like me has handled hundreds of these same cases (this is a common case); and 2) [here is the big one] an Attorney like me may be able to get your warrant recalled to end immediate danger of jail IN ONE DAY!

      No joke. In San Diego County, in many DUI warrant cases where there is no bail forfeiture – the court clerks office is super efficient and can schedule dates and recall warrants by FAX! no shit. They have a local form for it – but its only for attorneys. I have done it myself many times.

      (And FYI for all you inefficient uncaring courts out there like Alameda – San Diego also allows fax arraignments and counter arraignments on DUI and misdemeanor cases to prevent necessary court appearances, pollution, wasted time, etc.)

      And san diego county warrant info details, including bail and charges, and courthouse location – is avail on line at the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office web site - unlike Sacramento and other counties that make it very difficult to get info that would help an attorney deal with this problem.

      And even if we cannt get the warrant recalled by fax – it only takes one walk in court appearance for a private attorney to get the case back on track.

      Now I do not know how mad the judge is at you for not following court orders. And I do not know what the bail setting is on your warrant. You are facing jail time, and it’s probably about 1 year.

      You have to do everything correctly to give yourself a chance at avoiding jail. Everyday that you wait makes it harder to get a good result – harder to get a no jail result. And they will get you eventually if you do not go in voluntarily.

      It is possible to talk a judge into giving you a third chance and reinstating probation without a jail sentence – but you need real help.

      You may qualify for the public defender’s help, but the judge will not appoint a PD until you actually get into court. And unless you hire a private attorney prior to going to court, you may have to go to jail first.

      My best advice: hire me today, I’ll try to get that warrant recalled today or tomorrow- without you going to court if possible. You may have to go with me if I cannot get it done alone, but I always try alone first.

      Then, once the warrant is recalled, immediate danger of jail is over and we can work on the Probation Violations as best we can.

      How much would I charge? San Diego is a great court to work in. My second favorite (ventura is #1). But it is not fun work. No one wants to go into court and try to tell the judge you are doing OK – and trying to follow orders. No Attorney really wants to see the look on the judge’s face when we mention you have kids. It will not be pretty.

      How much would I charge? If you hire me prior to the end of the Del Mar meet (next week?) I’ll represent and defend you on these probation violations for a flat fee of $1800.

      Some courts that difficult to work in (Alameda, Riverside, San Bernardino) – I would charge a lot more, probably double.

      I make it easy for you to hire me. No office visit necessary, and I accept payments via credit or debit card on line or over the phone, and even PayPal payments.

      And just anticipating the question from others out there – Unfortunately, I do not accept payment plans in cases where there is a strong chance the client is going to jail. Because if we get a bad result – I’m going to be the one who gets blamed and not paid (happened too much to me already).

      OK. I made a good faith effort to give you real help for free. If you would like to hire me – you can send me details at cdort(at)dortlaw.com and I will send you everything you need. If you hire me this am, I can try to get that warrant recalled by fax today and get the ball rolling.

  56. JR Harris says:

    I agree with the fact that medical conditions and reasons for a DUI arrest are not valid excuses that should be given to the judge. In fact they are even damaging to your case. Many people think that telling the judge or rehab councilor about them will save you from more undue “sentencing” because of them. It is in fact the opposite because it confirms to them that you are having a big problem with alcohol. I have started a blog that explains how you are determined to be an alcoholic and in need of extensive rehab.If you tell the judge or alcohol councilor about them they will increase the amount of time you have on probation because they believe you are about to crumble. Check out my blog:

    duischooltruth.wordpress.com

  57. JOHN S WILLS says:

    Gentlemen

    I have a well prepared trial brief which explains my defense to a DUI case
    adjudicated on April 7, 2008 with my pleading a no-contest plea and misdeamenor probation.

    Unfortunetly, 5 weeks later I had passed out in my car from heavy drinking. I had just had the car repaired from the first case incident when this occurred. I never drove the car.

    But I was living in the car, dehydrated and malnourished. These events occurred in 2008.

    All paperwork being lost, I remembering the judges orders on the first case to some extent. I checked myself into 6 months of Sober Living. Then physical theapy for 5 weeks.

    During this period I had multiple surgeries on my left eye for a detached retina, at the Jules Stein Eye institute at UCLA.

    I have taken numerous falls with significant
    injury to my back and head. I have been Hospitalized 8 times in the past 3 years.

    I am now facing another eye surgery.

    I no longer can drive and will not seek reinstatment of my CA license. I use a cain.

    But I have to get this matter behind me for good. I am prepared to spend time in Jail.

    I looking at simular cases, I am hoping I will be able to get the 25% of sentence that I understand the Sheriff usually implements for no non violent, good behavior, non injury incidents resulting in DUI’s.

    I have never had a Felony or been in trouble.

    I need an Attorney but will have to make some payment arrangement. I can and will pay because I have a good Retirement income.

    I own and live in an old Refurbished RV in Sylmar. To the best of my knowledge, no authority is looking for me. I am 67, suffer from Vertigo and severe back pain, but otherwise fully functional.

    I work out of my RV with a broadband adaptor for the I-net.

    I am a 40 year Software development pro of of USC. Lately I have been doing documentaries and websites to supplement my income a bit.

    I do no know if I can afford you, but I like you writeup blog.

    I you cannot or do not want to represent me, perhaps you could recommend another Attorney to me.

    I can send you the summary brief on the 2 DUI cases in 2008, via e-mail which is accurate and complete. I is only 3 pages but summarizes the 2 cases well.

    Thank You in advance for reading this.

    You can reach me by email or phone

    John S Wills
    jswills1944@gmail.com
    818-458-3378
    My website is paradisewebproductions.com
    ps

    I now have 2 misdeameanor warrants, one for violating probation and the second for being found in my parked car passed out.

    Neither case involved injury to another person or another auto.

    I also have proven attendance at 75 AA classes plus the 6 consecutive months in a licenced sober living environment.

    During that time, I never once test positive for alcohol or drugs. I never did any drug.

    • John, (and everyone else out there considering sending in a comment),

      Forgive my rude tone, please, it’s been a long morning for me because Lance Armstrong failed in his last bid to win a stage of the Tour De France }-;

      You spent way, way too much time here telling me about your health, your income, your trailer and your work history – and way too little time telling me about your case(s). None of that crap matters at all. The udge is not going to care where you live. He / she is not going to care that you use a cane, and not going to care about your web site. Forget about all of that for a moment and focus on the problem f the warrants.

      Anyway, I’ll make a good faith effort to answer your concerns. This is not personal – but your question has tapped into a secret reservoir of anger I have in my stomach.

      Most criminal defense attorneys, including myself will not accept payment plans for legal services. The main reasons are: 1) things may go bad for you and you may end up in jail and unable to make payments; 2) banks are a better source for borrowing money than a defense attorney; and 3) people charged with crimes are by their own nature, unreliable in general. You may find someone, and I encourage you to call – but I have decided (due to experience of being ripped off over and over) to never ever take installment payments for legal services again. The final straw was a dirt bag in Placer who ripped me ff for $3500 last month. (I’m pretty sure he’s sitting in jail right now, though – {-: )

      RE: “I have a well prepared trial brief which explains my defense to a DUI case adjudicated on April 7, 2008 with my pleading a no-contest plea and misdeamenor probation.”

      What? Trial brief? Defense? No Contest Plea?

      If your case was adjudicated with a “No Contest Plea”, it’s over. Game over, insert new quarter. “no contest” is Latin for “I’m guilty, please sentence me”.

      Once you plead no contest, you have admitted guilt. There is no possible defense anymore. It’s over. It no longer matters what the facts of the case were. It’s over, you have been convicted, you are guilty.

      If you have 2 warrants from DUI cases after you have plead No Contest (or guilty) – they are probably both probation violation charges.

      I cannot tell why the warrants were issued here. But I can say that probation is a privilege – a gift from the judge – not a right. Once probation is violated, it gets revoked, and the judge is free to resentence you again. You do have the right to a hearing to determine whether or not you violated probation – but the burden of proof required for the judge to find you guilty on a probation violation is very low. The odds of success are very low, unless you have prof you did everything right. The Lindsay Lohan probation violation case that is in the news now is a classic example of that. She thought she had a defense, but she was wrong and it turned out bad.

      The best option for dealing with a DUI probation violation case with a warrant is to get into court ASAP, and try to get probation reinstated without a hearing. The best way to do that is to show that you made a good faith effort to comply with the terms of probation.

      OK – wait . . . . . I am going to sort through your life history to see if there is another question I can answer . . . . . .

      Sylmar? Is that Los Angeles County?

      Here is what you should do – send me your full name, date of birth, case #s if possible, name of the courthouses if possible, and I will try to get you a free, quality case review with recommendations on how to handle it with or without an attorney. I’d recommend hiring an attorney, but with or without, you need to go to court ASAP. They are looking for you if there are warrants. They probably haven’t found you because no one knows where Sylmar is (just kidding!).

      Most people with DUI / DWI probation violation warrants get arrested while driving or at the airport.

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