DUI Probation and How It Works

After you have been convicted of DUI, the judge sentences you. Most often, you receive a sentence that means you need to serve a specific amount of time behind bars. For a first offense, this might mean spending time in your county jail for several months. However, if you have more than one DUI on your record, the judge may hand down a harsher sentence. This may mean you are sentenced to prison for at least a year. The judge has some leeway in his sentencing requirements. You may be given probation, which means you remain in your community, but you have to live within certain legal restrictions. You will be assigned to a probation officer. When the judge sentences you to probation, it may last from one year up to five years.

After the judge has sentenced you to probation, you must meet with your probation officer at least once a week. Your probation officer is responsible for helping you stay away from alcohol or drugs. To do this, he asks you several questions about your activities and whether you have had anything alcoholic to drink. He has several ways to determine whether you are telling the truth. One way may mean you have to wear an alcohol monitoring device on your body. Your probation officer can tell you to go to alcohol testing. This means you go to a medical lab where you give the lab technician a sample of your urine.

Your probation officer has several rights that allow him to check on what you are doing. These include showing up unannounced at your home or job. Should you visit a bar, get drunk and then drive, your probation officer can tell the judge you have violated probation. The judge can then end your probation and order you to serve the rest of your sentence behind bars. The judge might have given you limited driving privileges that allow you to drive from your home to your job or school. Any violation of this limitation can also lead to your probation officer informing the judge, which makes the penalties you have to serve more severe. When your probation officer gives you an appointment, you have to be there. If you begin missing appointments, he will come looking for you. Unless you have a very good reason for missing a probation appointment, he can file paperwork to have your probation revoked. While these weekly meetings can be inconvenient, it is to your benefit to show up on time for each appointment.

When the judge gives you probation, this is not saying that you are free of all penalties. The judge can limit your driving privileges and order you to pay fines and court costs. He can also order you to attend and participate in an alcohol evaluation and alcohol counseling. You will be ordered to avoid major traffic and criminal violations. Depending on the state in which you live, you may also be ordered to have an interlock device installed on your car. You must blow into this device every time you have to drive. If you have no alcohol in your system, your car will start, but if you do have a detectable amount of alcohol in your system, your car will not start.