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DUI & Probation: What Happens if I Violate My Probation?

As with many criminal convictions, you will likely have a period of probation following your conviction for a DUI/OVI offense in Ohio for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ohio currently refers to probation as “community control” and sets forth some terms and conditions with which you have to comply if you want to avoid having to go to jail, which is now referred to as “Community Control Sanctions.” Probation is essentially a period of “Good Behavior” where you have to be a law-abiding citizen for a period of time up to 3 years if you are a first-time offender or up to 5 years if you have multiple DUI offenses on your record. While you are on probation, you will be required to cooperate with a “probation officer” for the length of your probation term. This probation officer will supervise you and ensure that you are abiding by the terms and conditions of your probation. Your probation officer has a great deal of power over you while you are under “community control,” and it will be imperative that you fully cooperate. The length of your probation will often last until you have paid any fines and costs from your DUI conviction and complied with any other requirements set by the court. One of the most common requirements of probation for a DUI conviction in Ohio will be your attendance at and completion of a 72-hour Driver Intervention Program.

What Are Common Probation Conditions?

Other common conditions of DUI probation in Ohio include (a) that you not be arrested for any new DUI/OVI offenses or other serious traffic offenses; (b) that you comply with an alcohol assessment and/or any follow up alcohol counseling; (c) random drug tests; (d) limited driving privileges; (e) not being able to drink; (f) not using any drugs or unprescribed medications; (g) pay any fines and court costs; (h) attend meetings with your supervising probation officer; (i) install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle that tests your breath for alcohol before allowing you to start your vehicle; (j) wear an ankle bracelet that continuously monitors your blood to ensure that you are not consuming any alcohol; (k) attend a Drivers Intervention Program; (l) restrictions on traveling outside of Ohio or the United States; (m) house arrest; or (n) any community service or work release conditions.

What Happens If You Violate Your Probation?

If you violate your probation, your probation officer will decide whether to cite you with a probation violation with the judge who sentenced you to the original DUI offense and will request that the judge revoke your probation and resentence you. Your probation officer may not cite a probation violation with the judge for your first probation violation, especially if it was a relatively minor offense such as being a day late paying your fines, but if you have multiple violations of the conditions of your probation, your probation officer will cite the violation and seek to have your probation revoked. You will generally have a hearing before the judge within a week so that the judge can determine whether or not you have indeed violated any of the terms and conditions of your probation. Since you have already been convicted of the underlying DUI defense, you will not be entitled to a jury in this hearing. Your probation officer will explain the facts of your alleged probation violation, and the sentencing judge will decide if you did, in fact, violate the conditions of your probation. Unlike a new criminal charge, you can be forced to testify against yourself and the court can use hearsay testimony against you. Also, unlike a new criminal charge, the prosecutors are not required to prove your guilt of the probation violation beyond a reasonable doubt. Ohio law only requires the prosecution to prove that you violated your probation by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means that the prosecution must show that it is more likely than not that you violated the terms of your DUI probation. It is important to have a DUI defense attorney with you at this hearing to help you understand the terms being used and help defend you.

What Constitutes a Probation Violation?

Probation violations can be as simple as violating a technical condition such as forgetting to notify the court that you have changed your address, failing to pay any fines or court costs on time, or failing to show up to your appointment with your probation officer or as serious as being arrested for a new crime such as another DUI offense but it does not have to be the same offense or even in the same court to violate your probation and allow your DUI sentencing judge to revoke your probation. One of the most common probation violations is failing a drug or alcohol screen. The judge will often allow you to stay on probation unless you continue to violate your probation terms and refuse to obey the court’s conditions for you. If this was your first probation violation, the judge will also likely allow you to remain on probation if you show that you are attempting to remedy your violation such as by bringing proof of your payment of the fines you missed the deadline for, attendance of previously missed treatment or counseling programs, etc. If you are charged with a new crime, your probation can be revoked even if you are not actually convicted of the new crime because of how low the preponderance of the evidence standard is in your probation violation hearing. Thus, you could be facing jail time not only for your new charge but also for any jail time that had been previously suspended from your earlier DUI offense.

If you have been convicted of a DUI/OVI offense in Ohio for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and you have been sentenced to probation as part of your conviction, your Ohio DUI defense attorney can work with you to help you learn to comply with the terms and conditions (“Community Control Sanctions”) of your probation. If you have violated your DUI probation in Ohio, you should contact an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to help explain your options and how to defend against the consequences for violating the terms of your probation. An experienced DUI defense attorney may be able to convince your judge to allow you to stay on probation rather than resentencing you to jail time. The way to convince the judge to show clemency in your probation violation hearing is by having a qualified DUI defense lawyer represent you. Your attorney can convince the judge of the difficult position you were in and why exactly you violated the terms of your probation due to such reasons as a delay in being paid so that you could, in turn, pay your fines. Your defense lawyer may also be able to convince the judge to use an alternative to resentencing you to jail time such as by requiring additional alcohol or drug addiction treatment.