DUI probation: the basics

Getting arrested is scary. You are cuffed, driven to county lock-up, fingerprinted, and dropped in a holding cell, usually with dozens of other offenders. Understandably, you want to do anything you can to avoid further incarceration, and therefore plea bargains offer an attractive alternative to end the process quickly and negotiate a deal that keeps you out of prison. This post will go over DUIs and how probation may work for you.

For many first-time offenders, the court will offer probation. Probation is a type of “suspended” jail sentence. You “serve” your jail time on the outside living your normal life. In exchange, you agree to adhere to the probation terms which will usually include meetings with your probation officer, alcohol education classes, AA meetings, and other programs designed to keep you from drinking.

Probation is generally available for first-time offenders and even repeat offenders, on a more limited basis. Probation is probably not possible if someone is injured, killed, or a substantial amount of property is destroyed (usually the state limit for grand larceny).

Probation can also end if you fail to fulfill the terms of the probationary release. You are probably wondering, what happens if you violate probation? The penalty varies from state to state, but it can range from the imposition of fines to incarceration for the remainder of your probationary period. A lot of the results depends on the facts of the violation, i.e. how much of it was your fault versus not.

If you are facing criminal charges for a DUI, then you may want to contact an attorney. Most DUIs can be settled through a plea negotiation, especially for first-time offenders and in situations in which no one was hurt, and no property was damaged. A lawyer can guide you through the negotiations to ensure that you receive a fair deal and that you understand the implication of pleading guilty. Plea bargains are an excellent tool to avoid prison, but they do require you to admit guilt and accept the consequences, including probation.