After you're convicted of a first-offense DUI in California, you'll be sentenced to a mandatory term of probation. Assuming that you pay the requisite fines, follow your sentencing judge's instructions regarding your conduct while on probation, and avoid further run-ins with the law, your probation typically will terminate within five years. However, the state of California's onerous conditions of DUI-related probation guarantee that you'll have to work hard to escape from your predicament without further legal damage.
Regardless of the jurisdiction in which your DUI conviction occurred, your probation will have several universal features. First, you'll be required to enroll in an alcohol-counseling course. Unless there are extenuating circumstances in your case, you'll probably be allowed to complete a short three-month course in lieu of a more in-depth year-long seminar.
You'll also be required to pay a "base fine" that may range from $400 to $1,000. Of course, the true cost of your DUI will be several times greater than this amount thanks to added court fees, the cost of your alcohol and driver-rehabilitation classes, and other miscellaneous assessments.
Crucially, your driver's license will be suspended for a period of several months at the start of your probation. In practice, most first offenders can convince a judge that they don't pose a serious risk to other drivers and receive a restricted license in the interim. If you're granted a restricted license, you'll typically be able to drive during regular "commuting" and business hours between your home and school, work or other key destinations.
Your probation will feature several additional restrictions on your behavior and freedom of movement. You must agree not to commit any misdemeanors or felonies or operate a vehicle after drinking any amount of alcohol. You must also agree to submit to a full battery of breath and blood tests following a suspected-DUI arrest.
California's DUI probation laws are strict: If you fail to meet any of these conditions or renege on any agreements associated with your probation, you'll be found to be in violation of its terms. Unless your lawyer can negotiate an alternate arrangement, a judge may revoke your probation and sentence you a prison term of up to six months. Depending upon the circumstances under which you violated your probation, you may incur additional penalties. For example, a subsequent arrest for impaired driving will result in a year-long suspension of your driving privileges.