Judges nearly always probate jail sentences in DUI cases. Felony DUIS and cases with extreme aggravating circumstances, like a fatal collision, are the biggest exceptions. Since the normal period of probation, even for a first-time offense, is one to two years, many defendants opt for a brief jail sentence in lieu of probation.
Incarceration instead of probation could be a good option in a few cases. Let’s face it. Not everyone is a good candidate for probation. Furthermore, the two or three weeks defendants must spend in jail usually passes rather quickly. Moreover, many defendants are eligible for special incarceration programs, like work release or weekend service only.
But in almost all cases, probation is an inevitable consequence of a DUI conviction. To successfully complete probation, most defendants must make some major life adjustments. While most authorities, including judges and probation officers, want defendant to succeed, there is a significant chance that DUI probationers must respond to at least one motion to revoke, simply because the period of probation is so long and so many things could go wrong. If that happens, a Marietta criminal defense attorney can help you avoid serious adverse consequences.
Avoiding further trouble with the law and reporting regularly to a probation officer are probably the two biggest general probation conditions. All probationers, regardless of the offense they committed, must comply with these conditions.
A subsequent arrest usually triggers mandatory probation revocation proceedings, which are outlined below. Raul might be a model probationer in every way. But if he gets arrested again, all that effort he put into his probation means nothing.
Reporting violations are usually discretionary infractions. If a probationer misses a meeting, or maybe even two, the defendant’s probation officer often waits to hear the defendant’s side of the story before referring the matter to prosecutors. That’s especially true if the missed meeting, or other missed appointment, like an IID maintenance appointment, was truly a one-off. If the defendants absconded (made no effort to comply with any conditions of probation), officials are usually far less understanding.
Second-tier conditions usually include avoiding injurious habits and fulfilling outside requirements, like performing community service.
Technically, probation officers can usually force defendants to take alcohol and drug tests. But there are very few set rules in this area. Some of our clients are never tested and others are tested monthly. One thing is certain. Probation officers typically use advanced Ethyl Glucuronide urine tests. These tests are usually quite accurate. Furthermore, they have about an 80-hour lookback period. Although they usually don’t do so, probation officers could initiate revocation proceedings after one failed test.
Community service and other such requirements are a bit like the reporting requirement, at least in terms of probation revocations. Most probation officers give most defendants a chance to make things right before the matter goes to court. But there are no guarantees.
The aforementioned Ignition Interlock Device and an alcohol evaluation are the most common DUI-specific probation conditions in Cobb County.
Most DUI probationers can only drive IID-equipped vehicles. These mini-Breathalyzers are attached to the vehicle’s ignition. A failed test or refusal usually disables the ignition. Many advocacy groups believe an IID is the best invention since sliced bread. So, they push hard for IID requirements and enforcement.
Don’t even think about driving your roommate’s or spouse’s non-IID vehicle. There’s a good chance the vehicle is not street legal. Common issues include unsecured license plates, a dangling air freshener, an expired inspection sticker, and a license plate frame that partially obscures license plate data. Once an officer pulls you over and finds out about the IID requirement, it’s go directly to jail.
Alcohol evaluations are often tricky, especially for first-time offenders. Many of these defendants are not problem drinkers. They are simply occasional binge drinkers. Some alcohol counsellors refuse to work with defendants unless they admit they are problem drinkers. If a defendant gets kicked out of a program or fails to complete it, the judge will not be happy.
An experienced Marietta criminal defense attorney can connect defendants with alcohol counsellors who appreciate the difference between AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) and occasional binge drinking. Both categories of individuals need help. They just need different kinds of help.
Motions to Revoke Probation
It’s very difficult to defend a motion to revoke probation in court. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Furthermore, the defendant missed an appointment or s/he didn’t and the defendant was arrested or s/he wasn’t.
Drug test violations, court-ordered condition violations, and payment violations are the major exceptions to this rule. EtG tests are not always accurate. Additionally, some judges impose conditions on defendants without explaining them or giving defendants compliance instructions. Finally, sending people to jail simply because they failed to pay money, especially if the money is private restitution, could violate the Constitutional ban on debtors’ prisons.
Fortunately, as mentioned, judges usually do not want to send probation violators to jail. Incarceration costs a lot more than probation. Possible alternatives include extending the period of probation or serving a small amount of time, perhaps two or three days, as a condition of reinstatement.
Often, the best defense is a good offense in these cases. Early discharge from probation could be an option in a DUI case.
Judges have extremely broad authority to modify the conditions of probation at almost any time. From a practical standpoint, most judges will not end probation unless the defendant has served at least half the time and has complied with all ancillary requirements, like the alcohol evaluation.
Defendants who know what to expect during DUI probation have a better chance of successfully completing it. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Marietta, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. Virtual, home, and after-hours visits are available.