Know Your DUI Probation Requirements in Tacoma / Pierce County

You were arrested for DUI, you were tried and you were convicted.  Or perhaps you plead guilty.  If you had the assistance of Smith & White, PLLC then you likely plea bargained to a reduced charge that does not have mandatory jail, can come off of your record and does not have a 5 year probation period.  However, if you went with someone else then you may have spent a day or two in jail.  Now you’re thinking, “That was horrible but I paid my debt and now it’s all over.” It can be. Of course what you will want to do is make sure it is.

What you may not realize is that when the court sentenced you they probably placed you on probation. In fact, unless the court gave you the maximum jail sentence of a year they did put you on probation. The probation in Washington lasts for two to five years and is sometimes supervised and sometimes unsupervised. When you were placed on probation the rest of the jail time was put on suspension. It will only face you if there are any probation violations.

Talk to your defense attorney to make sure you know and understand the conditions of your probation. That way you can make sure you have the necessary counsel so that you will progress correctly.

If you were placed on supervised probation this means that you will want to check in with your probation officer and find out when you can set up meetings with him. In some jurisdictions, the probation officer is also required to give random drug and alcohol tests which you will be required to comply with. The probation officer is also required to inform the court of any suspected violations so make sure you are asking questions to make sure you know what you need to do. Realize also that the probation officer’s highest concern is to do what he can to ensure that there will no repetition of the behavior that has you seeing him in the first place. So he will probably ask many personal questions. These will likely be inquiries into your employment, your lifestyle, your friends and families and your daily activities. Depending on your personality this may feel uncomfortable and like he’s being unnecessarily nosy. This is not the case. Every question that you are asked will have a specific reason it is asked. So it is in your best interest to simply comply and answer what he believes he has a vested interest to find out.

When you have the assistance of Smith & White, we help the majority of our clients avoid active probation. If this is your situation then it is much less costly and much less time consuming. However, if you did not have our assistance then you likely will  be expected to pay probation fees; these fees average $50-75 a month, for the five years.  State law requires that the Judge impose two requirements as part of your sentence: 1) a drug/alcohol evaluation and, 2) a DUI Victim’s panel. After the drug/alcohol evaluation you will be expected to comply with all treatment recommendations. The recommendations can range from a one-time 8-hour class on drug and alcohol awareness all the way to a two-year treatment program which will start with intensive in-patient treatment and required 3 AA’s per week in addition.  Considering the great range of possible recommendations on chemical dependency, it is very useful to have your attorney’s guidance when selecting a chemical dependency evaluator.

The Victim’s Panel will be a 4-hour session where you will hear from victims of drunk driving how it has affected their lives.  In some cases it is the drunk drivers themselves, usually when their driving resulted in something tragic. Both the evaluation and the panel as well as some possible treatment recommendations can be done even before your trial – you don’t have to wait to be ordered to do so.

There are other common requirements. One requirement will be no criminal activity. Before you get too nervous this does not include speeding tickets or other common traffic infractions like running a red light. However it will involve any criminal traffic infractions even if drinking was not involved. Plus it will involve any other criminal charges no matter whether either drinking or driving was involved. And it should be noted that driving without a valid license and insurance has a mandatory revocation of 30 days on DUI, Physical Control and many reduced plea bargains from those offense.  Again, Smith & White can help you avoid doing jail for these 30 days if you find yourself in this situation.

You will then have other possible requirements such as no alcohol violations.  This would include non-crimes like open container or liquor in the park.  You also may not refuse a breath test.  This means that not only would you be subject to the greater license suspension period per the Implied Consent Statute if you refuse, but you would also be subject to further sanction, including jail time, on your probationary matter.  In general, the main thing you should have learned from your first DUI is NOT to perform the voluntary field sobriety tests and to ask for a lawyer as soon as you are arrested.  This on call attorney will remind you not to refuse the breath test once you inform them that you are already on probation (active or inactive) on a previous DUI related offense.  You may not have a breath test over .08.  This is pretty obvious since that would be a new DUI.  So, now you are in double whammy time.  You get a new charge AND revoked off your old case.  Call Smith & White quickly in that situation.

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