What Is DUI Probation?
Have you been arrested for drinking and driving? You need an experienced attorney to help you in this situation. You may think that a DUI conviction will always result in a prison sentence. However, this is not always the case. Probation is one kind of sentence a judge may hand down. In this situation, you do not have to carry out a prison sentence if you meet all the conditions a judge sets. A judge may be more likely to give you probation for your first DUI offense. Additionally, a good attorney can work out a plea deal that involves probation.
Each state has different rules about DUI probation. Some states allow probation depending on the specific details of the incident. Others combine probation with other penalties. This means that while you may not go to prison, you may still have to pay fines, attend substance abuse classes and perform community service.
Types of DUI Probation Conditions
If a court awards DUI probation, there are several conditions you may have to meet.
Alcohol Education Classes
Many courts may order you to attend substance abuse classes. These classes usually cover different kinds of alcohol and drugs and the effects they have on your health. Additionally, you learn about addiction and how it can affect your life. These courses help you learn how to make changes in your life so you do not drink and drive again. At the end of the class, you usually receive a certificate of completion. You will likely need to show this to the judge.
Driver’s License Suspension
A court might also suspend your driver’s license. This means that you will not be able to drive during the suspension or you may face other charges. Sometimes, you may keep your license but have to follow certain restrictions. You may only be able to drive between 6 A.M. and 8 P.M., for example. If you have to drive after these hours, you may need a letter of explanation.
Clean Criminal Record
One common condition of DUI probation is a clean record. During the time of your probation, you cannot be arrested for any other offense. Arrests are one form of violating probation and can lead to more serious charges.
You also cannot drink while on probation. In most states, the legal blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent. If you are on probation, however, you have to maintain a zero percent BAC level. Even low BAC levels may cause you to earn another DUI.
Many courts may order you to perform community service. You usually need to work for a certain number of hours equal to the time you would have spent in jail. Some courts may allow you to choose an organization to work with or they may assign you to one.
Sometimes a court may require you to wear an ankle bracelet during your probation. These devices measure the amount of alcohol in your sweat several times each day. Courts are most likely to order this if you have multiple DUIs on your record.
Ignition Interlock Device
You may need to put an ignition interlock in your car. This device prevents you from driving if there is any alcohol in your body. You usually have to blow into the device and it measures your BAC level. If the device detects alcohol, you will be unable to start your car.
While you are on DUI probation, you typically need to check in periodically with a probation officer. This official monitors your progress and makes sure you do not violate the terms of your probation.
Important Facts About DUI Probation
There are a few things you need to know about DUI probation.
When You Get Probation
You will probably get probation early in the DUI process. Your first court appearance is your arraignment. Before the arraignment, you usually meet with your attorney. They may work out a plea deal for you and at the arraignment, the judge may agree to grant you probation. You may also get probation after your hearing if a judge convicts you of DUI.
Before a judge grants probation, this official may consider several factors. These include whether you have a job and have a history free from substance abuse. A judge also looks at your record to see if you have prior DUIs. If your last DUI arrest was more than 10 years ago and the rest of your record is clear, a judge may be more likely to grant probation.
Length of Probation
If you receive probation, you may need to follow these conditions for a considerable period of time. Probation may last between one and five years, depending on the nature of the incident.
You’ll likely face serious consequences for violating the terms of your probation. The exact consequences depend on the violation. If you do not attend all your community service hours or if you do not attend a substance abuse class, you may receive a warning. However, a more serious violation, such as tampering with your ignition interlock device or getting another DUI, carries more severe penalties. You may have another hearing in front of the judge. The judge might extend your probation period or revoke probation. For some violations, you need to pay an additional fine or serve a prison sentence.
You can also violate probation by failing to meet with your probation officer. If you have an emergency that prevents you from attending the meeting, your probation officer may excuse your absence. If you miss meetings without a valid reason, though, this official may report your absence to the court and you may need to attend another hearing.
Work with an Experienced Local DUI Attorney
If you are facing DUI charges, you need to work with a professional who has your best interests in mind. A conviction can carry severe consequences. You need to make sure you have someone on your side who can help you achieve an optimal outcome. Speak to a DUI attorney near you today.
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