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DUI While on Probation in DC

When a person is on probation following a criminal conviction and is then charged with a DUI in DC, they could face penalties as a result of the DUI, in addition to penalties resulting from an alleged violation of their probation.

Those penalties could include any suspended jail time or any suspended fines that the judge in the probation matter imposed prior to the person being placed on probation.

Therefore if accused of DUI while on probation it is imperative to seek the counsel of a DC DUI lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help put forth the strongest possible defense and aid in mitigating penalties both for the DUI offense and for the violation of probation.

Impact of Probation on a DUI Case

When a person is on probation and gets a DUI charge while serving that probation, a judge may decide that the person is a danger to the community. Even before the person is convicted of the DUI, the judge could decide to hold that person in jail while the new case is pending.

At the same time, the person could also be facing a violation of their probation before they are convicted of the new case. This could result in the imposition of any suspended jail time imposed by the judge in the probation matter.

What If You Were Already on Probation For DUI?

Regardless of the underlying conviction, when a person picks up a DUI charge while on probation, they face the possibility of penalties for the DUI and additional penalties for violating probation.

However, when someone is on probation for a DUI and is arrested for another DUI, the judge could view that as a very serious indication of the person’s problems with alcohol and their problems with drinking and driving.

As a result, a judge might be inclined to impose more serious consequences on a person who is arrested for DUI while on probation for another DUI, as opposed to a person who picks up a DUI while on probation for some other crime, such as an assault, for example. Due to the increased severity of the penalties, it is wise to work with an attorney when facing DUI charges while on probation in DC.

Typical Conditions of Probation

The typical conditions of probation are completion of a traffic alcohol program, a traffic safety program, and a victim impact panel. If a case is headed towards a resolution without a trial, the attorney may advise the person to complete those specific programs.

If someone has a first offense and completes those programs before the case is resolved, the attorney can make a very strong argument that if the person is placed on probation, it should be an unsupervised probation.

There is a huge difference between supervised and unsupervised probation. Supervised probation means there is a probation officer who can restrict the person’s travel, make home visits, require drug testing, and insert themselves into the person’s life in intrusive ways.

None of those conditions applies with unsupervised probation. There is no requirement to report to an officer who can make requests or demands of that person. The only requirement is to not be rearrested and perhaps pay a small fine.

Judges tend to give more favorable sentences to people they think are taking the bull by the horns, particularly on a first offense. There is no prejudice to a client because even if they complete the programs, they can still go to trial if they choose to. They have their programs completed and in their back pocket if the case is not resolved at trial.

Penalties For Violating Probation

When someone is on probation and is arrested for a DUI, and the judge who imposed their probation finds that there is probable cause for the arrest in the DUI case, that judge has the authority to revoke the person’s probation and resentence them. At resentencing, the judge could consider whether the person is a viable candidate for probation, given the rearrest and any other conditions the person has violated.

When a judge places a person on probation, one of the most important conditions of that probation is that the person not be rearrested during that probationary period. If the judge finds that the person violated their probation by picking up a DUI charge, the judge may consider imposing the full suspended jail sentence initially imposed in the case.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of a zealous defense attorney to argue before the probation judge as to why their client should not have the full suspended jail sentence imposed. The lawyer can also argue to the judge alternatives to the imposition of the full suspended sentence. Those alternatives could include stricter conditions of probation and other alternatives to incarceration.

If You Are Acquitted Is It Still a Violation?

Under DC law, an arrest on probable cause can be a basis to violate someone’s probation. However, it is possible for the person’s lawyer to request that the judge not violate their client’s probation simply because of a new arrest.

The lawyer can ask the judge to wait for the outcome of the person’s DUI case before deciding how that case affects their probation.

At that point, if a person is acquitted or has the DUI case dismissed, their lawyer can argue to the judge to place the person back on probation with the same original conditions.

The judge could consider whether the person violated any other conditions of the probation in deciding whether to reinstate the original conditions of probation.

For example, if the person had been testing positive for illegal drugs or not showing up for scheduled appointments with their probation officer, the probation judge may decide to revoke the person’s probation even if their new DUI case resulted in an acquittal or a dismissal.

Severity of Getting a DUI While on Probation

Besides the normal penalties a person might face as a result of a DUI case, being arrested for a DUI while on probation for another crime is a particularly serious matter.

When a person is on probation for a serious felony, a DUI arrest can result in the possibility of years of jail time if the person is found to be in violation of their probation.

Being arrested for a DUI while on probation for any matter may result in the consequence of a judge deciding to hold the person in jail while their DUI case is pending even if they have not yet been convicted of the new charge. This could possibly result in a person facing detention in jail even before they are found guilty of a new case.

Defending a DUI While on Probation

When an individual is charged with a second, third, or additional offense, the main concern is whether that individual can win a trial. There is not much opportunity for negotiation with the prosecutor to keep someone out of jail.

The attorney needs to form a strategy to win the case at trial. They examine the evidence to see if there is any reason to have it suppressed. They identify ways to challenge the blood alcohol content and the results of the standardized field sobriety tests.

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