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6. Court Probation

Read Your Sentencing Order and Stay Out of Trouble!

Your Napa County DUI lawyer should inform you that there are multiple obligations imposed at sentencing in Napa County, such as fines, DUI classes, jail, etc. Although the court and even your Napa DUI lawyer may detail the consequences of a DUI sentence prior, during and Probation Ordersubsequent to a sentencing, nevertheless you are best served by reading your Napa County Superior Court papers immediately, asking questions, and confirming your understandings.

Inadvertent errors do happen, therefore your own independent understanding and diligence is critical to preventing confusion, mistakes or omissions, and possibly serious consequences. This is one of the most important reasons to have a Napa DUI attorney helping you, so that you fully understand the tasks and conditions which were imposed on you, and the consequences and benefits of unsuccessful or successful completion of probation.

In Napa County, at the time of sentencing, you or your Napa DUI lawyer will receive a copy of the "Probation Order" and accompanying "Minute Order" from the court showing every item recorded by the Napa courtroom clerk, including the court's specific sentencing orders (usually these are part of the court's probation order) regarding jail alternatives, fines, drinking driver DUI Program, dates, durations, even special orders for multiple offenders such as staying out of bars and abstaining from alcohol possession/use, waiver of search and seizure rights, and installation of an ignition interlock device, etc.

Any such orders typically last the entire term of probation unless otherwise stated in the orders. A good Napa County DUI lawyer will advise you to permanently keep the original orders (pictured here) with your important papers. Click here to see a typical Napa DUI First Offense Probation Order, or older 2014 example, or older 2008 example, and click here for a typical Napa First DUI with high alcohol levels, or older 2014 example, and click here for a typical Napa DUI Reduced to a Wet Reckless, or older 2014 example.

For other North Bay counties, click here for a Sonoma First DUI Minutes/Sentencing Order, or here for a typical probation order for a first Sonoma DUI Reduced To Wet Reckless, or here to see a typical first Marin DUI probation order, or here to see a typical first Mendocino DUI probation order.

The Conditional Sentence.

Most Napa County DUI convictions result in what we call "informal" court probation (also called a "conditional sentence") described above, which does not require monthly reports or any restriction on your travel as would have been expected in a formal probation case. Simply put, your Napa County DUI lawyer should explain to you that your DUI resolution in court is conditioned upon you satisfying all affirmative obligations, and having no adverse police contact during this period or else you will risk further punishment in this case (in addition to any punishment in the new case, of course).

The standard informal probation period in Napa County is three to five years for a typical first or second DUI. Note that Napa is unique among Northbay counties in ordering formal probation sentences (requiring monitoring by the probation department) in many aggravted DUI cases such as multiple offenses, high alcohol levels, collisions, etc.

Typical Court Probation Terms.

Jail (or jail alternatives), fines, and DUI program enrollment and completion, are a key part of this informal probation, and failure to follow through on these obligations will likely result in a new charge of violating probation (including warrants, new Napa court appearances, and complications expunging this case later).

In addition to these sentencing requirements, your Napa DUI attorney will explain that Napa County court probation typically includes a catch-all condition of sentence that you be of good conduct and obey all laws, do not drive unless validly licensed and insured, and do not drive with any measurable alcohol in your body (as compared to before a DUI conviction when you could theoretically have up to .08% alcohol in your body when driving). The best Napa DUI attorneys are familiar with the relatively new penalty provisions regarding driving with measurable alcohol, discussed below. In addition, informal probationers with aggravated facts alleged may be required to waive search and seizure rights during this period and agree to submit to chemical testing pursuant to a lawful order by a Napa County peace officer; these waivers and agreements typically will not become relevant unless there is adverse police contact.

Normally all of these and other probation conditions will be included on your Napa County court probation order (click on the examples, above). If your case included a relatively high blood alcohol concentration (over .15%) or this is your second or higher DUI, then you may be subject to further conditions, such as refraining from alcohol possession and use, and staying out of places where alcohol is the primary item for sale, etc. Click here to see a typical Napa Second DUI Probation Order, or older 2014 example, or older 2010 example, and click here to see a typical Napa Second DUI with Aggravating Factors, or older 2014 example.

The best Napa DUI lawyers should be able to explain that counties vary in sentencing practices. For a comparison of the above sentencing approaches in Napa County with other North Bay Counties, click here to see a typical Sonoma Second DUI Probation Order, or here for a typical Sonoma Second DUI with Aggravating Factors, and here for a typical Mendocino Second DUI Probation Order.

Third DUI sentencing and probation terms vary widely depending on individual circumstances. Such convictions typically include a designation as a Habitual Traffic Offender pursuant to Penal Code 193.7 and Vehicle Code 14601.3. Convictions involving drug use or possession often include probation terms requiring periodic random drug testing in addition to the terms described above.

Looking Up the Law.

Understand that probation orders and sentencing components are highly discretionary with the judge in any criminal matter, and are normally tailored to specific aggravating and mitigating factors in each unique case. If you wish to see applicable laws containing the range of Napa DUI sentencing options and consequences, you may ask a Napa DUI attorney, or click on Resources on this site and then under "Self Help" click on the California Vehicle Code. Most of the Napa County Superior Court's mandatory and discretionary DUI sentencing components are contained in California Vehicle Code Sections 23536-23552, 23554-23568, 23572, 23575-23582, 23592-23596, 23598, and 23600-23602.

The general probation requirements for a first offense DUI are contained in Vehicle Code Section 23538, including jail sentencing, fines, and DUI program classes. Second DUI offense conditions are contained in section 23542, and third offense conditions are contained in section 23548.

The best Napa DUI lawyers will explain that sentencing enhancements, relating to certain aggravating factual allegations related to the DUI incident, are contained in later vehicle code sections, such as the "minor passenger enhancement" (23572(a), mandating an additional 2-30 days jail, depending on the number of prior DUI convictions) when a minor passenger under the age of 14 years old was in the vehicle; the ".15 enhancement" (23578, allowing extra jail, possible longer six-month DUI program classes, possible ignition interlock device per 23575(a)(1)) when the driver refused a chemical test or his/her blood alcohol concentration was .15% or higher; the ".20 enhancement" (23538(b)(2), allowing extra jail and mandating the longer nine-month DUI program classes) when the driver refused a chemical test or his/her blood alcohol concentration was .20% or higher; and the "speeding enhancement" (23582, mandating an additional 60 days jail) when the driver drove recklessly and 30 mph over the posted speed limit on a freeway, or 20 mph on other roads. An important reason to hire a local Napa County DUI lawyer is to enlist valuable practical experience and guidance in order to negotiate away the most burdensome of these added penalties.

Vehicle impoundment penalties are discussed in section 23592. DMV suspensions related to DUIs are described in Vehicle Code sections 13352-13353. Napa DUI attorneys also see additional penalties imposed as a result of other allegations commonly associated with DUIs, some of which may be found in Vehicle Code sections 2800.1 (evading the police), 20002 (hit and run), and 23153 (DUI with injuries).

Don't Drive With Any Alcohol In Your Body.

Good Napa DUI lawers will tell you that it is absolutely critical that you refrain from driving with any alcohol in your system at all during your probationary period. Beginning January 1, 2009, it is unlawful in California for a person who is on probation for a DUI (not wet reckless) to operate a motor vehicle at any time with a blood-alcohol concentration of .01 or greater as shown on any preliminary breath machine or actual breath or blood test. If you are found guilty of this act in Napa County then your driver license likely will be suspended for a minimum one year (refusals would be even longer) with no possibility of a restricted work license. (CVC 13389, 23154, 13353.1, 13353.2, 13353.3). Click here to see an example of such a DMV Probation Violation Suspension Order.

Juvenile Offenders.

If you are under age 18, special Napa County Juvenile Court proceedings may apply to you with significantly greater involvement by the Juvenile probation department.

Although juvenile criminal records may be sealed at age 18 (ask a Napa DUI lawyer about sealing juvenile records), DMV records will continue to show juvenile DUI suspensions (typically one-year suspensions) for at least 10 years following an incident. The following link is an example of a 22 year old man's DMV driving record showing one juvenile alcohol suspension with .03% alcohol (age 16), one minor DUI with .08/.07% alcohol (age 20), two suspended license cases, and one adult DUI with .11/.12% alcohol (age 22): Juvenile DMV Record.

Accessing Old Sentencing Orders.

If your case resolved in the past and you lost or never received a copy of your probation orders from your Napa DUI lawyer, and you wish to review precisely what was ordered by the court, you may appear at the Napa County criminal clerk's office at the main courthouse in Napa and ask for a copy of the entire "docket" or court history. There is a nominal fee per page, but this is a valuable recorded history of everything that actually transpired in your Napa County court case and can often refresh recollections and clear up misunderstandings of precise resolutions, probation durations, time served, etc...

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Any result portrayed was dependent on the facts of that case, and the results will differ if based on different facts.

Our DUI Lawyers

Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, Wine Country resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of North Bay DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.

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