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Does a DUI violate probation?

Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I was arrested for DUI last week. I am currently on probation for another criminal charge. I was wondering if a DUI conviction could violate my probation, and if so, will I be going to jail?”

What is Probation?

Probation is a sentence imposed by the court which allows criminal offenders to remain free and avoid jail time by fulfilling certain requirements. Probation does not mean you avoid punishment, only that the courts have determined it would be better for you to serve your sentence outside of a criminal institution.

If you have been given probation there are certain obligations and requirements you must meet. Failure to meet these requirements can result in additional penalties, potentially even jail time. Common requirements include:

  • Refraining from using drugs or alcohol
  • Reporting to your probation officer at specified times
  • Maintaining employment or attending school
  • Remaining at your current residence
  • Submitting to random drug or alcohol testing
  • Refraining from committing any other type of criminal offenses

Now, you specifically asked about a DUI arrest and conviction. Although you did not specify what criminal offense you have been charged with or the requirements of your probation, it is very likely that you are barred from drinking and using drugs.

Additionally, it is the assumption of all courts that everyone, not just those on probation, will avoid committing criminal actions. With this said, it is likely that getting arrested and charged with a DUI is a violation of your probation.

What if I violate my probation?

If you violate the terms of your probation, under some conditions, you may be given the maximum prison term for your underlying offense. Before any decision is made, however, your probation officer will review your case. In many instances the probation officer will have some discretion about whether you will simply be issued a warning or whether a probation hearing will be scheduled and a judge will review your case.

As mentioned above, the DUI will definitely be a probation violation, but whether or not you will be sent to jail will depend on a variety of factors. For example, the court will review the seriousness of the current DUI charges, your criminal history, and the severity of your initial charges.

What happens at my probation violation hearing?

If a probation violation hearing has been scheduled you need to understand your rights. First, you have the right to have legal counsel present at your probation violation hearing. You also have the right to have written notice of all of your violations and to present evidence and witnesses in your defense.

The court will need to prove their case against you through a preponderance of evidence. After all evidence is presented, the judge will decide whether or not a violation has occurred. If a violation did occur the judge may impose additional probationary time, mandatory rehabilitation, fines and penalties, restitution, or require you to serve your original jail sentence.

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