In the United States, a common part of any DUI conviction is probation. Probation is a period of time after a sentence is handed over to the defendant where he can go free and avoid incarceration in jail, but must abide by rules prescribed to him or her by the court. Probation periods have a set duration depending on the place where the crime was committed, the number of times the crime was committed, and other factors relating to the crime that could affect the defendant’s case positively or negatively.
DUI probation rules vary widely from state to state. In Nevada, probation laws put a strict focus on ensuring that the defendant will refrain from committing another DUI violation, or any other crime for that matter, to avoid complicating matters for him or her in court. Many DUI defense attorneys would advise their clients to accept the terms of a probation to lighten their sentences.
Nevada DUI Probation Specifics
In Nevada, probation for misdemeanor DUI cases are often handed out in the form of suspended sentences, where the court will allow the defendant to avoid incarceration for a few days and eventually have a reduction to his sentence if he avoids committing another offense, drunk driving-related or otherwise, during a certain period prescribed by the court. The defendant may still serve time, but it is way below the extended period expected from a full conviction. Other penalties included in a probation charge include:
To deter any possibility of committing another drunk driving offense, Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles will temporarily suspend a defendant’s driving license as stipulated in their mandate. The duration of this suspension depends on the severity of the offense and the number of times the offense has been committed. The DMV does have the prerogative to provide the defendant with a restricted license if he or she has not committed any other offenses during his probation period. The issuance of a restricted license usually happens after 45 days without incident on the part of the defendant.
As a further deterrent against any future acts of drunk driving, the court will charge the defendant with having an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. These specialized devices look like breathalyzers, and are connected to the vehicle’s ignition system. The driver is required to blow into the IID at random intervals, allowing the device to analyze and look for traces of alcohol. Once found, the car’s startup system will be locked for a certain period and the driver cannot drive the vehicle; if the breath test was done on the road and alcohol was detected in the driver’s system, the IID will trigger the vehicle’s lights and horn to alert nearby police. These interlock devices are mandated to be installed for at least a year.
Substance abuse and DUI prevention classes
A strict requirement stipulated in probation sentences is for the defendant to regularly attend substance abuse and drunk driving classes in authorized learning centers throughout Nevada. These classes focus on the ill effects of excessive substance consumption and driving while intoxicated. Repeat offenders may be taken directly to a substance abuse rehabilitation facility instead. In addition, defendants are expected to attend Victim Impact Panel lectures to learn how drunk driving can adversely affect other people.
A clean police record
While out on parole, the defendant is entrusted by the court to be on his or her best behavior. In this regard, he or she must avoid committing any form of crime, whether or not related to the original offense, during the probation period. Otherwise, the defendant can expect not only to face charges against the new offense, but additional hearings for violating his or her probation mandate. Often, this leads to even heavier penalties for the original offense.
Fines and other monetary dues
As part of the penalties that can be handed for a DUI defendant in Nevada, he or she is expected to pay a certain amount of cash to the State, as prescribed in Nevada’s Revised Statutes. These fines are meant to support funds for DUI education, law enforcement, and victim assistance. The more severe the DUI charge, the higher the amount of fines that have to be paid. In addition to these fines, the defendant can be charged to pay a separate fee payable to the court that heard his or her case, and in some cases, even the lawyer of the prosecution. Attendance to DUI schools and victim impact panels are also charged at the defendant’s expense.
Violating a Probation
The court puts a defendant under probation in the hope that he or she will refrain from committing any more crimes in the future. Unfortunately, there are instances where people who have been put in a probation program will immediately get in another DUI incident, or commit a different crime entirely. These situations merit a probation violation and can cause further legal trouble for the offender.
A number of reasons can already constitute a probation violation. These may include:
- Failure to appear on scheduled court dates
- Failure to report to the probation officer on regular periods
- Failure to pay fines and/or restitution
- Failure to attend DUI programs
- Visiting people or places, or going out-of-state, without permission from the probation officer or court
- Alcohol or substance consumption while driving, as reported by the vehicle’s interlock device
- Committing other crimes during the probation period
- Getting arrested for an offense, criminal or otherwise, during the probation period
Mild violations, like failure to report for a DUI lecture or failure to update the probation officer about the offender’s whereabouts, often result in the offender receiving a strict warning from the court or the officer. Repeated minor violations, or a single major violation like the detection of alcohol by the installed interlock device, results in the offender being summoned to appear in a probation violation hearing. If proven guilty of violating his or her probation mandates, he can expect to face a variety of additional penalties, ranging from the simple extension of his probation period, to additional fines or, at worst, a revocation of the probation with the offender spending the rest of his sentence in prison.
Probation is a key part of a DUI driver’s road to recovery. Follow the program fully to avoid getting into drunk driving incidents in the future.