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Facing a conviction for drunk driving can be really scary. You may have felt compelled to take a plea bargain, especially if it meant you avoided all jail time. Depending on your situation, usually any deal that avoids time behind bars is preferable to facing the unknown of a criminal trial. However, even if you avoid jail, you are likely going to be on probation for some time.
When a person charged with a DUI is sentenced to probation, they usually have lots of questions about probation. Below, you'll find 5 of the most frequently asked questions about DUI probations.
1. What is Probation?
Probation is a suspended jail sentence. Instead of going to jail, a person is put on probation and mandated to follow certain conditions. If they fail to adhere to the conditions, they can be arrested and put in jail.
Whether or not probation is an option for your DUI will vary depending on your state's law. If your DUI results in an injury or death, jail may be unavoidable. Some states may allow probation for a first offense only, while others might allow it for repeat offenses as well. Additionally, it just might depend on what sort of plea bargain your attorney can wheel and deal for you.
The terms of a DUI probation will vary from state to state. Generally, they include regular check-ins with a probation officer or the court, taking alcohol awareness classes or addiction counseling, community service, avoiding being arrested for any reason, and maintaining a 0.00% BAC when driving. In some states, and for repeat offenders, there could even be ankle bracelet monitoring, or ignition interlock devices required.
The penalty for violating probation differs from state to state. However, generally, you will be re-arrested, and if convicted of the parole violation, you can be sentenced to serve your original jail term (which was suspended), as well as an additional sentence for the violation of parole. Sometimes, the length of your probation will simply be extended for violations, or you will be charged fines, or have additional terms imposed.
If you fail to report to your probation officer, or to the court when it is time to check-in, you can be charged with a probation violation. Additionally, if you are mandated to check-in with the court, a judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest if you fail to appear. Similarly, your probation officer can notify the court of your delinquency and that will likely trigger a probation violation hearing.