Probation, by definition, is an alternative to prison time either to benefit a nonviolent or rehabilitated offender, or to prevent overcrowding and high costs in local and state prisons. In Utah, probation is used to fight recidivism for individuals like DUI offenders who benefit from supervision in lieu of jail time or in conjunction with a shorter jail term as well as special terms intended to help rehabilitate the offender. These terms are imposed at sentencing and can include:
- Evaluation for addiction
- Alcohol and drug education
- Treatment for addiction, if present
- Mental health evaluation and treatment
- Ignition interlock device
- Alcohol restricted driver’s license (ARD)
- Interactive supervision with probation officer
- Community service
- Electronic monitoring
It is extremely important for DUI offenders on probation to maintain an open, honest, and consistent relationship with their probation officers. These are the people who initially decide whether or not your actions constitute a probation violation worthy of reporting to the courts. They are your first line of defense when you make a mistake, and, even if your violation does go to court, could be a critical factor in determining how your DUI probation violation case is decided.
Since probation terms are different for every DUI case, it is important that you know what constitutes a violation of your probation. You should be able to find these terms in your court papers, or a Utah DUI attorney can find them for you and explain them to you properly. The following are common mistakes made by those on probation for Utah DUI:
- Failing to report to probation meetings
- Leaving jurisdiction without your P.O.’s permission
- Testing positive for alcohol or drugs
- Measurable presence of alcohol while driving with ARD
- Triggering ignition interlock device
- Failing to complete drug education or counseling in allotted time
- Failing to complete community service in allotted time
- Failing to pay any restitution, fines, or court costs on time
- Committing a new offense, especially an arrest for subsequent DUI
If you commit any of these or other violations of your probation, you could be facing the jail time and other sanctions for your original crime that were suspended in favor of probation, as well as any additional penalties from the nature of the violation itself. You do get a certain degree of due process to make a case and/or mitigate the outcome, but not to the extent that you originally had with your DUI case. An experienced Utah DUI criminal defense lawyer can help guide you through the process and fight for a favorable outcome.
After your violation is reported, you will be summoned to the court for an Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing. This is your opportunity for you or your attorney to bring forward witness, explain any addictions or inability to pay or report, and use any other evidence to convince the court that the severity of the original DUI punishments are not necessary.
In this hearing, the judge will determine whether your actions were willful and substantial according to preponderance of evidence and not proof beyond a reasonable doubt – which means he or she only has to decide that the evidence presents 51% probability or more that your actions were willful and substantial. The outcome of this hearing and the judge’s decision will determine your future with regards to the violation.
When it comes to DUI violation of probation, the best defense is prevention. However, there are steps you can take after committing the offense and after the violation is reported to help your future. The most important one you can make on your own is admitting your mistake to yourself and changing your attitude towards your situation.