DUI: Formal vs. Informal Probation

DUI ProbationDrivers who are convicted of a DUI offense can be sentenced to serve time in jail or prison or can be placed on probation for a specified period of time. Judges will typically give defendants an opportunity to complete probation, however failure to comply with the terms and conditions of probation can result in imposition of a jail sentence. Defendants can be sentenced to either formal probation, where they are assigned a probation officer who will monitor progress, or informal probation, where the defendant will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the various terms and conditions of probation.

What is Required on Formal Probation?

Formal probation is typically only required for defendant’s who have been convicted of a felony level DUI offense. This would include a defendant’s fourth DUI conviction within a ten year period as well as offenses such as DUI with injury pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23153 VC, which is a “wobbler” that can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In addition, defendants convicted of vehicular manslaughter under the influence or gross vehicular manslaughter under the influence can also be sentenced to serve formal probation in addition to jail time.

The defendant would be required to check in with the county probation office within days of being sentenced or released from custody. The defendant would be able to transfer probation to his or her home county or state, depending on where he or she lives. The defendant would pay a probation fee and would be expected to report regularly to his or her probation officer. Probation may make surprise visits and may require drug testing and unscheduled home searches and inspections.

If restitution is owed, the defendant would be expected to make payments to the victim through probation. Any probation violations would be reported to the Court, who would then bring the defendant back to the Court to address the allegation.

What is Required on Informal Probation?

The majority of defendants convicted of misdemeanor DUI offenses are placed on informal, or summary probation. Ventura County is an exception and requires formal probation, even for defendants convicted of first time DUI offenses.

For defendants on informal probation, the Court will set forth the terms and conditions of probation and will provide the defendant will various due dates by which they must submit proof of completion or proof of compliance. The defendant will not be assigned a probation officer to monitor probation, but instead will be expected to complete their assignments by the required due dates. The Court may set future court dates for the defendant to show proof of progress or proof of completion or the Court may just set a due date to submit proof of completion documents to the court clerk’s office.

If a defendant on informal probation fails to meet a due date, the Court will issue a probation violation and bench warrant. The Court may reinstate the defendant’s probation and impose additional penalties to address the violation.

If the defendant owes restitution, he or she would be required to pay the victim directly. If the defendant is unable to pay the full amount owed, the Court will hold an ability to pay hearing and will set a monthly amount due to the victim or victims as a condition of probation.

If you or someone who you know have been accused of a DUI offense, it is imperative that you meet with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut fights hard on behalf of his clients through all stages of the DUI process.

For more information about formal and informal DUI probation, and to schedule your free consultation, contact the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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