Recently on our DUI legal forum a user asked, “I have been on DUI probation for two months after my first DUI (driving under the influence) conviction. I recently violated my DUI probation, and I know the court has issued a bench warrant for my arrest. I am really scared. I do not want to go to jail. What should I do? What happens if I flee?”
What is probation?
While DUI offenders may consider probation a “get of jail free card,” it’s not. In fact, it’s simply the judge agreeing to allow a convicted offender to avoid jail or other penalties with the understanding that if the violator does not uphold the law and the terms of the probation they may be sent to jail or have to suffer the full consequences of their conviction.
For instance, if the offender violated the terms of the DUI probation (i.e. they fail to report to their probation officer, they failed a drug or alcohol test, they drove on a suspended license, they failed to attend alcohol and drug counseling, they failed to use an ignition interlock device, or they committed another violation) the judge may decide to enforce the penalties they withheld for the first DUI conviction.
In the State of Florida, for example, if your probation is revoked the court may be allowed to impose “any sentence which it might have originally imposed on the offender at sentencing.” So, if you had been charged with a first-time DUI and the statutory maximum for that charge was 180 days in jail, you might be sent to jail for the remaining days of your sentence.
What do I do if I violated my DUI probation?
If you have violated your DUI parole your parole officer will submit an Affidavit of Violation to the court. If the court agrees with the allegations and they believe there are reasonable grounds to issue a warrant, a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest.
So, what do you do if a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest? Experts have several recommendations after the warrant has been issued. First, you may want to immediately contact a lawyer who can negotiate your voluntary surrender. In some cases, you may want to simply go to the police and voluntarily turn yourself in.
The good news is after the arraignment on the violation charge you will be entitled to an evidentiary hearing where the state will have to prove willful and substantial violation of supervision by competent evidence.
Fleeing the State for a probation violation
Running from probation and leaving the State is called absconding. Running is never a good idea. If they do catch you can expect your probation to be revoked and it’s likely you will be sent to jail.
Violating a DUI probation is a serious offense. In many cases if you avoided jail time with the first DUI conviction and were instead given probation you may be sent to jail. For this reason, if you have violated your probation in Jacksonville, Duval County, Clay County, or Nassau County Florida, it’s generally a good idea to talk to a DUI lawyer.
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