Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a severe offense in California that carries stringent penalties. While jail time, fines, and mandatory DUI classes are common sanctions, probation is often a component of the sentence for first-time and some repeat offenders. As part of California, San Diego adheres to the state's Vehicle and Penal codes regarding DUI offenses and probation terms. But what happens if one violates the terms of DUI probation in San Diego? This article covers the implications and procedures following a DUI probation violation in this jurisdiction.


Understanding DUI Probation in San Diego

In San Diego, individuals convicted of a misdemeanor DUI often receive probation, which allows them to serve their sentence outside of jail or a combination of 1 year or less of jail and probation. However, this freedom comes with conditions. Typically, DUI probation can include:

  1. Avoiding further legal trouble: This means no new arrests or convictions.
  2. Zero-tolerance for alcohol and drugs: Probationers shouldn't drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system.
  3. Attend DUI school: This could range from 3 months to 30 months, depending on the severity of the offense.
  4. Restitution: This involves compensating victims for any damage or injury.
  5. Random drug and alcohol testing: At times, the probationer may need to undergo drug or alcohol testing.
  6. Attendance at AA or NA meetings: Some may be required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
  7. Litter Removal Service: Some may be required to pick up trash on the side of the freeway for 8 hours daily.

Recognizing Probation Violations

A DUI probation violation occurs when an individual fails to adhere to the conditions set by the court. Common violations include:

  • Being arrested for a new offense.
  • Failing to attend or complete DUI school.
  • Failing a drug or alcohol test.
  • Driving without a valid driver's license or insurance.
  • Not attending court-mandated meetings or check-ins.
  • Driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system.

Consequences of Violating DUI Probation

If someone violates their DUI probation in San Diego, they might face:

  1. Revocation of probation: The court can decide to terminate the probation, leading to the person serving the remainder of their sentence in jail.
  2. Extended probation: Instead of revoking probation, the court may decide to lengthen its duration.
  3. Additional fines: Besides existing penalties, the court might impose more fines on the violator.
  4. Mandatory community service: Additional hours of community service could be a potential penalty.
  5. Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID): For those who didn't have this initially, the court might order the installation of an IID, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the device detects alcohol on the driver's breath.
  6. One-year license suspension: For those who drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system while on probation they face a one-year license suspension from DMV.

Procedure After a Probation Violation

If an individual violates the terms of their probation:

  1. Notification: Probation officers or the court will typically notify the offender about the violation and its potential consequences.
  2. Hearing: A probation violation hearing will be scheduled. It's less formal than a criminal trial, and the burden of proof is lower. The prosecution must only prove "a preponderance of the evidence" rather than "beyond a reasonable doubt."
  3. Representation: While individuals can represent themselves, it's advisable to seek representation from an attorney who understands the complexities of DUI laws in San Diego.
  4. Decision: After the hearing, the judge will decide if a violation occurred and, if so, determine the appropriate consequences.

DMV and License Consequences for Driving With .01% Or More Alcohol Level

Not only will an individual face consequences in court for violating probation, but they will also face a 1-year license suspension from the DMV if they drive with a .01% or more alcohol level. They must request a DMV hearing within 10 days of the violation and will want a competent lawyer to represent them during this hearing in addition to the Court probation violation hearing.

Protecting Your Rights

If you are facing a DUI probation violation in San Diego, here are some steps to consider:

  1. Seek legal counsel: As mentioned earlier, having a lawyer can significantly affect the hearing outcome.
  2. Gather evidence: If there's evidence supporting that the violation was unintentional or due to circumstances beyond control, collect and present it.
  3. Stay informed: Understand the terms of probation and stay updated with any changes in DUI laws in San Diego.

Defending against a DUI Probation Violation

Defending against a DUI probation violation can be challenging, but several defense strategies can be effective depending on the case's specifics. Here are some possible defenses for a DUI probation violation:

  1. Lack of Knowledge: If you can demonstrate that you were not adequately informed of your probation terms or there was some confusion regarding the conditions, this might be used as a defense.
  2. Insufficient Evidence: The prosecution must prove the violation occurred. If there's insufficient evidence to support the alleged violation, it might be a valid defense.
  3. Mistaken Identity: If someone else's actions have been mistakenly attributed to you, proving that you did not commit the violation can be a defense.
  4. Involuntary Violation: If an individual is forced or coerced into violating the terms of their probation, this could be a defense. For example, being forced to consume alcohol under threat.
  5. Emergency: If a probation term was violated due to an emergency, such as driving a car to a hospital despite having a suspended license, it might be used as a defense.
  6. Technical Violations: Sometimes, the violation is minor or technical and does not reflect a deliberate disregard for the probation terms. Arguing the minor nature of the violation might lead to lesser penalties.
  7. Probation Officer’s Misconduct: If the probation officer acted improperly or failed in their duties, this might be a defense against the violation.
  8. Rehabilitation and Remorse: Demonstrating active steps towards rehabilitation, such as seeking therapy or joining support groups, can sometimes be used as a mitigating factor in defense. Similarly, expressing genuine remorse and providing a plan to ensure future compliance can be helpful.
  9. False Positive in Drug/Alcohol Test: If a drug or alcohol test shows a false positive due to specific foods, medications, or other legitimate reasons, this can be a defense. In such cases, re-testing or medical documentation might be necessary.
  10. Failure in Notification: If you were not properly notified of a mandatory meeting, course, or other requirement and missed it, it might serve as a defense.
  11. Reliability of Testing Equipment: In cases where an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or a breathalyzer was used, questioning the reliability or calibration of the equipment might be a potential defense.
  12. Violation Outside the Probation Jurisdiction: If the violation occurred outside the jurisdiction where the probation was assigned, it might be possible to argue against the local court's authority to impose penalties.


DUI probation in San Diego comes with specific conditions and responsibilities. Violating these terms can lead to severe consequences, including extended probation, additional fines, license suspension, and even jail time. For those facing probation violation allegations, seeking legal advice is crucial to navigate the complexities of the legal system and ensure their rights are protected.


Remember, the viability of these defenses largely depends on the specific details of the case, the nature of the violation, and local laws. It is crucial to consult with an attorney familiar with DUI probation violations to discuss the best possible defenses tailored to the situation.