Mendocino Courthouse

Top Ten Tips > Easing the Consequences of a DUI

6. Court Probation

Read Your Sentencing Order and Stay Out of Trouble!

Your Mendocino County DUI lawyer should inform you that there are multiple obligations imposed at sentencing in Mendocino County, such as fines, DUI classes, jail, etc. Although the court and even your Ukiah DUI lawyer may detail the consequences of a DUI sentence prior, during and subsequent to a sentencing, nevertheless you are best served by reading your Mendocino County Superior Court papers immediately, asking questions, and Mendocino Minute Orderconfirming 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 affecting your legal position and your personal liberty. This is one of the most important reasons to have a Ukiah DUI attorney helping you, so that you fully understand the conditions which were imposed on you, and the consequences and benefits of unsuccessful or successful completion of probation.

In Mendocino County, at the time of sentencing, you or your lawyer will receive a "Clerk's Docket & Minutes" and an "Order of Summary Probation" from the court showing every item recorded by the Ukiah courtroom clerk, including the court's specific sentencing orders (usually these are part of the court's probation order) regarding jail, fines, DUI program classes, dates, durations, even special orders for multiple offenders such as breathalyzer orders, staying out of bars and abstaining from alcohol possession/use, etc. The reverse of the Order of Summary Probation contains addresses and phone numbers of various compliance agencies for the typical Mendocino County DUI offender. Click here to see a typical Mendocino High Alcohol DUI Probation Order, or here for an older 2008 example and click here to see a typical Mendocino Wet Reckless Probation Order, or here for an older 2014 example or older 2012 example, or click here to see a typical Mendocino Second DUI Probation Order, or here for an older 2012 example.

For other north bay counties, click here to see a typical first DUI Sonoma Probation Order, or here for a Marin Probation Order, or here for a Napa Probation Order.

The Conditional Sentence

Most Mendocino County DUI convictions result in this informal court probation (also called a "conditional sentence") described above, which does not require monthly reports or any restriction on your travel. Simply put, your DUI resolution in court is conditioned upon you satisfying any affirmative obligations, and having no adverse police contact during this period or else you will risk further punishment in this case (in addition to the new trouble, of course). The standard probation period in Mendocino County is five years for a DUI, or three years for a Wet Reckless.

Typical Court Probation Terms

Mendocino Probation DeptYour Mendocino County DUI attorney will inform you that 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 Ukiah court appearances, and complications expunging this case later).

In addition to these sentencing requirements, Mendocino 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 conviction when theoretically you could have up to .08% alcohol). Penalty provisions regarding driving with measurable alcohol are discussed below. In addition, informal probationers often agree to submit to chemical testing pursuant to a lawful order by a Mendocino County peace officer if suspected of DUI.

Normally all of these and other probation conditions will be included on your Mendocino County court probation/sentencing order (click on the examples in the second paragraph of this section, 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, staying out of places where alcohol is the primary item for sale, installation of an ignition interlock breathalyzer device in your vehicle(s), and/or waiver of search and seizure rights.

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 DUI sentencing options and consequences in Mendocino County, you may ask a Ukiah DUI attorney, or click on Resources on this site and then under "Self Help Resources" click on the California Vehicle Code. Most of the Mendocino 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 Ukiah 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 whether a minor passenger under the age of 14 years was in the vehicle (additional 2-30 days jail, depending on the number of prior DUI convictions, per 23572(a)), whether the driver refused a chemical test or his/her blood alcohol concentration was .15% or higher (possible ignition interlock device per 23575(a)(1), and additional penalties per 23578), whether the driver refused a chemical test or his/her blood alcohol concentration was .20% or higher (9-month DUI program classes per 23538(b)(2), and whether the driver drove recklessly and 30 mph over the limit on a freeway, or 20 mph on other roads in a manner (60 additional days of jail per section 23582). An important reason to hire a local Mendocino 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. Mendocino 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 Mendocino DUI attorneys will explain to you that it is absolutely critical that you refrain from driving with any alcohol (courts often add "or other intoxicating substances" to probation terms) in your body at all during your probationary period. Vehicle Code Section 23600(b)(2),(d). 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 Mendocino County then your driver license likely will be suspended for a minimum one year (refusals may be even longer), usually with no possibility of any hardship or 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

Mendocino Probation DeptIf you are under age 18, special Mendocino County juvenile court proceedings may apply to you at the Juvenile Court in Ukiah. Mendocino DUI lawyers will inform you that a typical Mendocino County juvenile DUI conviction requires more formalized probation (including random drug/alcohol testing), community service, one-year license suspension, DUI youth classes and a modest fine.

Although juvenile criminal records may be sealed at age 18 (Mendocino County DUI lawyers would strongly recommend that you complete this process as soon as possible), 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 Mendocino County Superior Court minute/sentencing order from your DUI lawyer, and you wish to review precisely what was ordered by the court, you may appear at the Mendocino County criminal clerk's office at the main courthouse in Ukiah 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 Mendocino County court case and can often refresh recollections and clear up misunderstandings of precise resolutions, probation durations, time served, etc...


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, North Bay 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.


Dave Jake Schwartz