A Comprehensive Overview of Informal Probation DUI in California


In California, a DUI conviction often results in one of two types of probation — formal or informal — with informal being most common for misdemeanor offenses. Learn more in this overview of informal probation for DUI.

What Is Informal Probation for DUI?


As a California driver, when you are arrested for driving under the influence, you may be able to avoid jail time if you agree to participate in probation. There are two types of probation: formal probation, which applies to drivers who have committed a felony, and informal probation, which is typically offered for misdemeanors. Informal probation is also referred to as summary probation in California.

If you are serving formal probation for a DUI, you must check in with a probation officer as directed by the judge. However, when put on informal probation, you are not assigned a probation officer; instead, you are supposed to appear in court for the specified court dates. You should provide proof of completion or compliance with your probation restrictions during your court appearances.


Get Help With DUI & Informal Probation

Although a California judge will possibly give you informal probation for your first-offense DUI, working with a reputable law firm in California can maximize your odds.

DUI lawyer Valery Nechay will work diligently to ensure that you receive informal probation even if you have prior DUI convictions. If you face DUI charges in the Bay Area, do not hesitate to reach out to my firm for a free consultation and begin receiving excellent legal representation.

Does Everyone With a DUI Get Informal Probation?


Whether you get informal or formal DUI probation depends on the severity of your DUI crimes.

Additionally, as per California law, you may serve jail time or not depending on the judge’s ruling after analyzing the facts of your case. Moreover, if you are arrested for your fourth DUI charge within ten years, the judge will give you formal probation, and in some cases, you may spend time in the county jail.

Although most California judges usually give defendants summary probation when convicted of first-time DUI misdemeanors, Ventura County doesn’t. So, if you are charged there for your first DUI, you will receive formal probation, and thus, you must check in with a probation officer as directed by the court.

Does Informal Probation Go to Your Record?


If you are charged in a DUI misdemeanor case, and your DUI lawyer ensures that you get informal or summary probation, it is crucial to fulfill the requirements. If you are arrested for a probation violation, the judge may revoke your probation and send you to jail or impose harsher terms.

If you are arrested for crimes other than drunk driving or driving under the influence of any other substances, your probation may also be reconsidered. Violating the terms of your DUI informal probation is a crime, and therefore, it goes on your criminal record. That is why you should understand the conditions of probation in-depth to avoid being on the wrong side of the law and getting a license suspension.

Remember that if you are arrested for drunk driving, you may end up with a restricted license or even license suspension. Violating the terms of your license restriction can also lead to additional arrests which could jeopardize the freedom offered by your probation.

Informal Probation DUI Status


Although informal probation can last between 3 and 5 years, it all depends on the deal your DUI legal team can secure for you. If you break any probation requirement within this time frame, you may be rearrested, and the judge can order that you serve the waived jail term.

The length and terms of your probation depend on the crimes you committed while driving under the influence and the judge’s assessment of the case. It is crucial to ensure you don’t break any probation terms to complete it without any extension.


Where to Check for Informal Probation for DUI Status

You may be wondering how you can know the status of your informal probation, especially for a first offense. Unlike formal probation, where you can call your probation officer and ask them when your probation period ends, this doesn’t apply to an informal DUI probation. 

Therefore, the easiest way to know when your DUI probation will end is to visit the court and ask for your record. Your criminal record will contain information on the DUI probation sentence and how long you were to serve it. 

DUI Informal Probation Violation


It is vital to understand the terms and conditions of informal probation because failure to comply may mean additional charges and even a mandatory term in jail. Therefore, if you are granted informal probation for driving under the influence charges in CA, you should consult your DUI attorney on the requirements.

On the bright side, although judges come up with the probation terms, they must be reasonable and fit the crime.

Here are the most common terms and conditions for informal probation, commonly referred to as summary probation:

  • Pay fines and the required court costs
  • Pay restitution for victims affected by your DUI crimes
  • Complete community service
  • Attend a substance abuse program such as Alcoholics Anonymous if you are deemed an alcoholic
  • Attend various programs that discourage drunk driving such as California DUI school, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or the Hospital and Morgue Program
  • Submit to random drug testing
  • Install an ignition interlock device that prevents you from starting your car if you do not pass a breath test
  • Complete a treatment program
  • Participate in either group or individual therapy sessions
  • Avoid violating any probation terms

Can You Drink on Informal Probation?

Avoiding alcohol is not a requirement of all informal probation sentences. However, some probationers will be required to abstain from drinking alcohol as a term of their informal probation. It all depends on the individual case and the unique terms of the person’s probation.

When you are on probation, you are supposed to submit to random testing, and if your blood or chemical test shows a high concentration of alcohol or other substances, you could be arrested. In all cases, however, driving with a high BAC level will get you in trouble.

Probation violations can lead to a jail sentence, and your driver’s license may be revoked. Therefore, it is vital that you obey all the conditions of probation.

If you are in doubt, do not hesitate to seek legal advice from a DUI defense lawyer to avoid additional penalties when facing DUI charges. If the defendant is a minor, be sure to hire a juvenile defense attorney from an aggressive defense attorney that will ensure a DUI conviction will not ruin their life. Contact attorney Valery Nechay today to get started on your defense.


If you are under investigation or charged with a crime, I will consult with you in person and at no charge to you.