Probation plays an important role in Florida’s judicial system, especially in DUI cases. The terms of DUI probation are in place partially to deter future drinking and driving and to help identify people who might have a drinking problem and get them the help they need. However, you must take probation seriously because it is a privilege. How is it a privilege? Because probation is an alternative to spending time in jail! So you’d be wise to recognize it for the relief it provides and take it seriously because if you violate probation, you could wind up in jail.
However, you do not have to serve time in jail or on probation until you are convicted or accept a no-contest plea. It is important to understand what the Florida DUI probation law entails so you can wisely evaluate your choices if you currently face DUI charges. An experienced and skilled DUI defense attorney from Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law can explain your options and discuss the best defenses for your Florida DUI charges.
What Is Probation for DUI in Florida?
According to Florida Statutes 316.193, Florida’s DUI law, a person convicted of a first offense DUI could spend up to six months in jail. Your jail sentence could be up to one year if you have an aggravated DUI charge. It is up to the judge to determine whether you should go to jail. However, the judge has no choice but to put you on probation according to the law.
Florida’s DUI statute says that each person found guilty of DUI must receive probation as part of their sentence.
The terms of probation for a DUI charge are similar to those for any offense. For instance, every probationer must obey the law; they face a probation violation charge if they pick up a new criminal charge while on probation. But DUI probation laws in Florida specify other conditions that people on probation for DUI must follow.
Special Probation Conditions for DUI
While on probation for a DUI, you must report in person to your probation officer every month. You must complete a substance abuse course offered by a state-certified DUI program, and you must also submit to a psychosocial evaluation. If deemed necessary after the assessment, you must complete a substance abuse treatment program.
Failing to complete the DUI program will result in a probation violation, and you will lose your driving privileges. You can only reinstate your driving privileges after you successfully complete the program.
There are probation service fees to pay, and you must also surrender your firearms while on probation.
Probation for a First DUI Conviction
In addition to the probation conditions discussed above, a person convicted of a first DUI offense must satisfy additional probation requirements. The term of probation and time spent in jail cannot exceed one year for a first offense. The judge must order you to complete at least 50 hours of community service while you are on probation. A judge could allow you to pay $10 per hour instead of performing community service if you experience hardship in completing the ordered hours.
The court must order you to impound your car for 10 days once the DMV reinstates your driver’s license. You are responsible for paying the costs associated with impounding or immobilizing your car. Exceptions to this rule apply if you were driving someone else’s car or your family is left without any means of transportation. The court can dismiss the impoundment order if you prove that you installed an ignition interlock device in all vehicles you own individually or jointly and use routinely.
Two Questions Frequently Asked About DUI Probation in Florida
Many people ask, Can you drink while you are on probation? Another common question is, Can you be around alcohol while on probation? The answer depends on your particular situation.
Florida law allows the judge to order you to attend a qualified sobriety and drug monitoring program. Courts often order repeat offenders to remain drug and alcohol-free while on probation. However, the judge could order a first-time offender to attend a program if the court deems it necessary.
If you get put on such a program, you need to be very careful to avoid alcohol. Alcohol and drug monitoring programs have multiple ways to monitor your behavior. They can test your blood, breath, urine, or oral fluid for alcohol and drugs. Testing could also be done through an ignition interlock device, using a SCRAM device twice a day, or continuous transdermal alcohol monitoring, among other methods.
The program will monitor your sobriety and report failed tests to your probation officer.
In theory, a judge could also order you not to be around alcohol at all. But even if this isn’t ordered, it is wise to stay away from people who are drinking while on probation. You don’t want to tempt yourself because a little fun is not worth violating your probation and potentially being sent to jail.
Punishment for DUI Probation Violation in Florida
At your violation hearing, the judge will evaluate your probation officer’s violation allegations. The judge will consider whether your violation was technical or the result of a “new law violation” (new criminal offense). They will also assess your prior performance on probation and whether your violation was willful or not.
The range of penalties you face depends on the violation type. Judges typically do not take kindly to probationers who commit new crimes while on probation. So if you have a new law violation, you have a higher likelihood of getting your probation revoked and getting sent to jail than if you have only a “technical” violation.
The judge can send you to jail for the maximum term allowed by law if the court finds you willfully violated your probation. A judge can extend your probation and pile on probation conditions as an intermediate sanction if jail is not warranted after a willful violation of probation.
Start Building Your DUI Defense Today
At Moses & Rooth, we defend your rights every step of the way. We have 36-plus years of combined legal experience, and, as former prosecutors, we know how to attack even the most challenging DUI cases in Central Florida. Contact us today by calling 407-531-8694 or going online to learn more.