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Failure to Install an Ignition Interlock Device and Revocation of Probation in California

In a recent California appellate decision, the defendant pled guilty in two cases to driving under the influence (DUI) with a blood alcohol content that was greater than .08. In both of those California DUI cases, he admitted he had three prior convictions for driving under the influence and the court granted him probation.

The first case arose when the defendant was pulled over for driving under the influence. He didn’t have proof of insurance, or a driver’s license, and his BAC was .19 or .20. He was charged with five crimes, including driving with a BAC higher than .08 with three prior convictions. He didn’t come to his arraignment and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He pled guilty to the DUI with a BAC of .19 or .20, and admitted his three priors. In exchange for his plea, the other counts were dismissed. He was put on probation for five years, and one condition was that he install an ignition interlock device on his car for five years.

The second case arose when he was again stopped for a DUI. He gave the police a driver’s license with someone else’s name on it, and would later claim he used the name Gabriel Sanchez. His BAC was .12 or .10. Three days after the defendant’s plea was taken, the prosecutor filed a new complaint and it charged the defendant with three new crimes that came out of the traffic stop, and among these was DUI with three prior convictions for DUI.

The prosecution and defense made a plea agreement on the three new charges. He pled guilty, and his sentence was suspended so he could go on probation for five  years. A condition of probation was to install an ignition interlock device on his car for two years.

In 2009, the court clerk entered a declaration regarding the defendant’s failure to complete a different condition of probation, enrollment in a multiple offender program. The court revoked probation to maintain jurisdiction and issued a bench warrant. The entity keeping track of the defendant’s installation and compliance with the interlock device filed a declaration. That declaration said he hadn’t installed one. In both cases, probation was revoked, and bench warrants were issued. The defendant was only arrested on the second bench warrant after six years.

The defendant admitted the violation with regard to the failure to install an ignition interlock device. He claimed he forgot. He said that he had continued to drink and by 2016 was homeless and alcoholic. He asked the court to reinstate probation, and this was also what the probation officer recommended, though with certain modifications.

Probation was reinstated for three years.

The defendant appealed. He challenged the 2016 order that required him to pay a restitution fee and the fine for probation revocation in one of the two cases. He argued the court had meant to fine him the minimum amount, which was just $200 at the time of the crime. He also argueed against certain assessments and penalties.

The Attorney General argued he’d forfeited the arguments he made on appeal since he hadn’t objected to how much the restitution fine or the probation revocation restitution fine was in trial court.

The appellate court explained that the federal and California constitutions prohibit ex post facto laws from being passed. The relevant laws were sections 1202.4 and 1202.44. The first section provided that there should be a separate and additional restitution fee in each case where someone is convicted of a crime unless it finds extraordinary and compelling reasons for not imposing the fine and puts those on the record. The minimum restitution fee when he committed the DUI offenses was $200; the maximum was $10,000. However, this increased by the time he was sentenced and at both times section 1202.44 said the probation revocation restitution fee, which had to be paid because of the failure to install an ignition interlock device, should be in the same amount as the section 1202.4 restitution fine.

The appellate court explained that the $200 restitution fine fell within the range of permissible fines that the court could order at the time of the crimes. Therefore, the appellate court found there was no unauthorized sentence and the forfeiture rules should be applied. There was nothing in the record to show whether or not the court meant to impose the minimum fine. This aspect of the order was affirmed.

If you’re convicted of a DUI in San Diego and you’re ordered to install an ignition interlock device (IID) but fail to do so, you may face revocation of your probation. It’s important to consult an attorney who can vigorously defend you and explain the consequences of court orders pertaining to your case. The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman may be able to help. Call us for a free consultation at (619) 260-1122 or susan@shartmanlaw.com.