What can I Expect from DUI Probation?
A driving-under-the-influence (DUI) charge occurs when a person is caught operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Depending on the severity of the crime and what state it occurred in, a DUI may be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Probation may be a condition of a DUI punishment and may require the individual to be supervised by a probation officer. DUI probation guidelines could stipulate that you don't drink alcohol, report to a probation officer at least once a month, find a job to repay any fines or fees, perform community service work, and be subject to random drug testing.
Most states in the United States have set the illegal blood alcohol content (BAC) for a driver set at .08. Impaired drivers caught operating a motor vehicle will either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Normally, the first, second, or third offense is classified as a misdemeanor. Once a driver has four or more DUI offenses, they may be classified as felonies. People who cause bodily harm, death, or property damage while driving under the influence may also be charged with a felony.
Drivers facing their first DUI will usually have their license suspended if their blood alcohol content was over the legal limit. If a driver refuses to take a breath test, his or her license may also be suspended. In addition to losing driving privileges, other criminal penalties, such as paying fines, performing community service, and serving jail time, may be required.
Judges can opt to add DUI probation on top of criminal penalties or suspend these penalties altogether and only require probation. A sentence of probation may come with specific conditions that need to be met by the offender. These may include not drinking alcohol or taking illegal substances. It often includes reporting to a DUI probation officer once a month.
All of the guidelines set forth during the DUI probation period must be met by the offender. Failure to follow probation guidelines may result in more severe criminal penalties. This may include serving a jail sentence.
One condition of probation may be finding gainful employment in order to pay back any fines or fees ordered by a judge. A person found guilty of a DUI may need to pay a criminal fine as well as a monthly probation fee. Community service hours may also be ordered as a condition of DUI probation. This requirement may range from 24 to 80 hours, or more.
DUI probation periods can be anywhere from one year to several years. During that time, a probation officer may conduct compulsory drug and alcohol testing. The probation officer may also require the offender to attend a DUI school. Both of these requirements are intended to deter individuals from committing future DUI crimes.
A lot of people don't realize how much a DUI arrest can really cost. Hiring a good DUI defense attorney is not cheap, and you'll probably need one if you want to get the DUI charges reduced to a misdemeanor. You'll be paying fines or doing community service for a while, and your family and employers will most likely know what you did to deserve it.
The courts also take DUI probation very seriously, so you will need to get a handle on your habits whether you're prepared or not. A serious DUI probation violation can mean jail time and a loss of driving privileges for a long time. If you're going to go out to a bar or a party and start drinking heavily, get a designated driver or call a taxi. Anything would be cheaper than getting pulled over for a DUI offense.
A friend of mine got a year's probation after his first DUI and he said the fines and community service were enough to convince him to stop drinking at bars. He still has an occasional beer at home, but he will only go to bars if he is the designated driver. He tested positive for alcohol during one random test during his probation, but his probation officer gave him a stern warning and let it slide. He's been sober for three years now.
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