An experienced DUI lawyer can work with you to clarify the laws and explain how they apply to your specific case.
The questions and answers below explain some of the basic facts about DUI cases, probation violations, and possible consequences. Still, the best way to understand your unique situation is to discuss it with a DUI attorney.
1. What happens if I get a DUI while on probation?
One of the conditions of your probation is not to violate any state or federal laws. Getting charged with DUI counts as violating state law. It also counts as violating the terms of your probation.
Under your probation agreement that you signed when your probation began, you agreed to self-report any arrest, and probably your receipt of a traffic ticket.
If you fail to do this, here in the age of computerized information, failure to do so could in and of itself constitute a violation.
However your probation officer learns of your arrest for DUI or anything else, he or she will elect how to proceed. Whether that path is a notice to you of an administrative review or issuance of a warrant for your arrest for violation of probation, that action will usually not be taken during the period of time your new charge is pending.
2. Can I get sentenced to probation for DUI?
Yes. If the offense is DUI 2nd offense or greater, and no mandatory minimum sentences are required, a circuit judge can place you on probation for a period of time not to exceed five years and impose special conditions of probation.
DUI first offenses are prosecuted in summary courts-municipal and magistrates courts. Those courts have no jurisdiction to suspend a sentence of time in jail on a period of probation.
3. What will happen to my DUI if I am currently on probation?
Being on probation does not change the course of your DUI charge. Things will proceed just as they would for any DUI offenders, on probation or not.
In South Carolina, the DUI process involves an administrative side and a criminal side. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handles license suspensions in DUI cases while the court system handles the progress of the criminal charge of DUI until the conclusion.
If you chose not to take a Datamaster Breath Alcohol Test when you were arrested, SC’s Implied Consent Law mandates that your driver’s license is automatically suspended, or if you are licensed in another state, your privilege to drive in South Carolina is suspended. This period of suspension is for six months or more.
If you take the breath alcohol test and the machine produces a reading that is .15 of 1% or more, your license or privilege to drive is suspended for thirty days or more.
Yet, even when suspended, you have the ability to continue driving as your case is pending conclusion.
If you request an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension, the SCDMV computer system will flag you as being eligible for issuance of a TARL or temporary alcohol restricted license. You may drive anywhere in the state, at any time using that license. You do not have to enter into any program such as ADSAP (Alcohol Drug Safety Action Project). You do not have to secure special insurance such as SR-22.
You may drive on this TARL until the outcome of the administrative hearing is known.
Criminal charges and penalties through the courts:
When you go to court for DUI charges, the judge will determine your sentence based on the evidence provided by the state prosecutor and your DUI lawyer. If you receive a DUI conviction, your sentence could include jail time, fines and/or community service.
Your sentence will depend on the specific facts of your DUI case. For example, if your DUI caused bodily injury to someone, you will likely face stronger penalties. The same is true for reckless driving.
4. What is a probation violation?
A probation violation occurs when you either commit a crime or break the rules set by your probation. On your record, it is a separate charge and will be counted in addition to the charge that originally put you on probation.
5. Do I have to go back to court for the probation violation?
Some violations are handled administratively outside of court by the probation department. Other violations will require a court appearance for a probation violation hearing.
If your probation officer determines that you have violated the conditions of your probation, he or she will get a warrant for your arrest. A judge can also issue a bench warrant for violations of probation.
6. What are the penalties for a probation violation?
The judge will decide what penalties are appropriate given the facts of your case. You will have the opportunity to speak at your hearing and explain your side of the story. The judge can choose to:
- Dismiss the violation
- Continue your supervised probation
- Partially revoke probation and continue probation for the rest of the sentence
- Revoke your entire probation
- Dismiss your probation
If your probation is partially or fully revoked, you will serve part or all of the county jail or prison time from your original sentence. As the list above shows, the judge has broad discretion in these cases to determine whatever penalty he or she sees fit.
7. Will I go to jail for a probation violation?
Jail time is a possible consequence for a DUI probation violation. Whether or not you are sentenced to jail time depends on the judge’s decision and the facts of your case.
8. How will my probation be affected by a violation?
A violation of probation can have several different outcomes. The result will depend on the facts of your case and the decision reached by the judge.
One possibility is that nothing will change with your probation and you will continue as you were. In some cases, your probation could be dismissed entirely. On the other hand, you might have to serve jail time for the remainder of your sentence.
9. Are there travel restrictions on leaving the state if I am on probation?
The judge can impose travel restrictions as a condition of probation. If the judge ordered you to remain in the state, you can sometimes get special permission to travel.
10. What are conditions of probation?
There are certain conditions mandated by state law for anyone who is put on probation in South Carolina. The judge can order court-imposed conditions in addition to the state-mandated ones, which are:
- Do not violate any state or federal laws
- Avoid harmful or dangerous habits
- Avoid disreputable people and places
- Allow your probation officer to visit you at home or anywhere else
- Get and maintain a suitable job
- Pay a fine as directed by the court
- Perform public service work as directed by the court
- Submit to urinalysis and/or blood test at the request of a probation officer
- Follow curfew restrictions
- Live under house arrest as directed by the court
- Submit to surveillance by law enforcement
- Support your dependents
- Follow your probation officer’s instructions and advice about your social and recreational activities
11. What happens if I get a second probation violation?
The process will be quite similar to your first probation violation. The judge will have extensive power in deciding your punishment. A second probation violation means you are more likely to receive a harsh sentence because repeat violations show that you are not inclined to follow the rules.
12. Do I need a lawyer for a probation violation?
Yes. The state can treat a probation violation as a serious criminal offense depending on the facts of your case. A probation violation means you are now facing three charges: the violation, the offense that earned your probation in the first place, and the offense that caused the violation.
Three charges are a lot to juggle on your own. DUI and probation make for a complex case. An experienced defense attorney can help you through every step of the process.
Let us help you.
Facing DUI charges while on probation is a stressful ordeal. You do not want to go through it alone. A DUI defense attorney is the ally you need to get the best possible outcome.
Contact Kulp & Elliott to discuss the details of your case with a free consultation. You can reach us at 843-853-3310. We are here to help you!