On Any First Time DUI Or Charge Of Impaired Driving:
The law requires that minimum mandatory penalties be applied, including Probation which comes in two flavors: Unsupervised, also called “Court Probation” and Supervised also sometimes called “your life as you know it is over” probation, thus the law requires that:
- You must pay a $1,420.00 fine (payable monthly over 12 months);
- You must obtain an alcohol assessment from a licensed counselor,
- You must take a 16 hour alcohol education course called Prime for Life,
- You must serve 2 days of jail or perform 48 hours of community service at a non-profit agency but remember- 178 days of the 180 day sentence is “suspended” and that does not mean it magically disappears,
- You must complete 12 months of probation, either supervised (BAC > .159) or Unsupervised, called “Court Probation” where you just promise not to get in trouble or violate the terms of probation and no one specific supervises you.
You may also become IID and ARD restricted but here we are concentrating on Supervised. Supervised is where a private probation provider assigns you a probation officer and orders random drug and alcohol screening through urine assays, and; Unsupervised, that means that you don’t report to anyone, you just promise the court not to violate the terms of probation and not get in trouble again during that term. Since the Unsupervised is easy to understand – you can’t get caught for having a beer with friends, even though it runs contrary to court orders, we’re going to concentrate on Supervised Probation.
The court will assign you to report to a probation agency usually within two days of sentencing and they will do an intake on you to assess your supervisory needs, which almost always include drug and alcohol screening via random urine testing. This agency reports directly to the court, so if there is a dirty test or a missed appointment, the court is advised and calls you into court to punish you – using the suspended jail time sitting in their “bank.”
Understanding what the term “178 days suspended jail means:”
Let me just say here that there isn’t a person who isn’t confused by the term “suspended when they hear the judge say 48 hours community service and I’m suspending the rest of the sentence,” that surely mean it’s gone right?
WRONG! That 178 days is an insurance policy to make sure you perform while on probation. The new urine testing uses what is called an ETG urine screen to give an immediate result that is then confirmed by GC analysis if the result is positive; note that this test uses an enzyme assay test that can “look back” in time three days to see if you drank prior to the test and there is no way to beat it. Thus, if you have a drug or alcohol issue (or just like to occasionally party…) that you haven’t addressed or can’t immediately conquer, and you have supervised probation, you are screwed because there is no way to fool the agency, or test, and thus you are exposing yourself to up to 178 days of jail by continually failing these tests. Additionally, each and every time you are called into court for a violation, the court will revoke and restart probation tacking on another 12 months from the date you appear before the court.
This pitfall is something that is rarely discussed by the court but my experience is that it is a real and ever present problem. While prescription drugs legally taken are acceptable (with the caveat that you still can receive a DUI for “failing” the SFST field tests), recreational drugs and alcohol, or even a single glass of wine, is not.