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Can You Get DUI Probation Instead of Jail?

A DUI arrest doesn’t always have to end in a jail sentence. Even repeat offenders can get DUI probation instead of jail time.

Probation is by no means a slap on the wrist. But for many who are pulled over for driving while intoxicated, it may mean a less humiliating way to serve their sentences.

Judge Can Impose Probation

Although most DUI charges, which vary by state, can carry minimum jail sentences of at least one day for even a first-time DUI offense, a judge can choose to suspend your sentence in favor of probation.

That was the case with WWE wrestler Jack Swagger, who was found guilty of DUI and speeding in a Mississippi court this week. The judge, however, chose to give Swagger six months of unsupervised probation and fines instead of jail time, reports TMZ.

Judges have the discretion to impose lighter sentences in most DUI cases, including probation, although that probation will likely include alcohol/substance abuse classes, fines, and license suspension.

Plea Bargains Work Too

If you are willing to accept a deal with the prosecutor and plead guilty to a DUI charge, you may be able to swing DUI probation by accepting a plea bargain.

A DWI plea bargain kept country music star Randy Travis from seeing the inside of a jail cell for his naked intoxicated driving romp in Texas in 2012. He was able to avoid a year of jail as well as getting a police retaliation charge dropped by taking a plea deal.

Of course, if you don’t feel that you are guilty of a DUI despite being arrested and charged, you may not want to plead guilty, as taking the plea back later might be difficult.

Am I Eligible for DUI Probation?

Generally, probation is granted to low-risk first time offenders, with the reminder that the court can impose jail time by revoking the probation.

However, it is possible for DUI probation to be granted if this is your second or third DUI. This is more likely to happen if you:

  • Are gainfully employed,
  • Have a minimal criminal history,
  • Haven’t had a DUI arrest in 10 years, and
  • Have no history of mental illness, substance abuse, or violence.

If you happen to get charged with another DUI while on DUI probation, however, it is unlikely that a judge will extend your probation for the new offense. In such a scenario, you will probably face jail time.

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