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What You Need to Know About DUI Probation

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If you receive a conviction for a DUI in Washington state, you understand how severe the penalties are for this crime. After you serve your jail sentence and pay the required fines, the state may also require you to undergo probation for a certain period of time. If you break the terms of your DUI probation, you could face serious consequences.

What Is a DUI Probation?

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime in Washington, and you could face significant consequences including jail time, fines, and license revocation if you receive a conviction. A court may suspend all or a portion of your DUI sentence in exchange for placing some conditions for a certain period of time.

This process is known as probation, and can place severe restrictions on your life, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. Under Washington law, all people who receive a DUI conviction can undergo probation for up to five years.

What Are the Conditions for a DUI Probation?

It is important to remember that probation is not a pathway to avoid jail or to reduce your sentence. Under Washington law, probation is an additional punishment in combination with a jail sentence, fines, and other penalties.

If a judge orders you to probation for DUI, you must adhere to certain conditions in order to satisfy its terms. Washington imposes the following mandatory conditions for all DUI probations, including first offenses.

  • You cannot drive without a valid driver’s license and insurance coverage as specified by Washington law.
  • You cannot operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher.
  • If a police officer requests that you take a blood or breath test to determine the level of alcohol in your system, you must submit to this test. Refusal to do so will be a probation violation.

Simply put, you cannot commit a violation of criminal law or an alcohol-related violation during the course of the probation. In addition to the above mandatory conditions, you may also face additional sanctions.

For example, you may have to complete a DUI victim’s panel or take an alcohol evaluation. You may also need to attend a substance abuse treatment program if a substance assessment determines that you are dependent on drugs or alcohol. Some probation conditions may prevent you from drinking alcohol at all.

The exact conditions of your probation will depend on the court ruling — and the restrictions can be severe, depending on your case. It is important to understand and follow your probation order closely, or you could face significant consequences.

Consequences for Violating a DUI Probation

Washington law imposes strict penalties on probation violations. In some cases, probation violation consequences can extend the penalties you received as a result of your DUI conviction.

If the court determines that you violated your probation, it will order you to a minimum of 30 days in confinement. The law does not specify that you will have to spend this 30-day period in jail, but you may spend your confinement behind bars. However, you may qualify for a non-jail alternative, such as house arrest. You cannot defer or suspend this confinement.

When you received your DUI conviction, the state suspended your license for a certain period of time. If you violate a DUI probation, the state will add an additional 30 days to your suspension for every incident that constitutes a probation violation.

Hiring an Attorney for a DUI Probation Violation

DUIs are serious crimes in Washington state, and if you are convicted of this crime, it is important to adhere to all terms of your probation. However, mistakes and misunderstandings often occur — and you can find yourself facing unfair punishment for violating your DUI probation.

If you are facing charges for violating a DUI probation, contact a Tacoma DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will take the time necessary to learn your side of the story, help you understand your legal options, and defend your best interests in the courtroom and at the negotiating table.

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