Getting a DUI While on Probation in DC

If a person is on probation after being convicted of some crime, one of the most important terms a judge will make them comply with is that they not get re-arrested for another crime while on probation. The judge may institute a number of other conditions including community service or the payments of a fine or restitution, but at its heart, probation has a requirement that says the person cannot be re-arrested while on probation.

If someone is on probation and is arrested for Driving Under Influence, they can face possible penalties for the DUI and also face additional penalties for violation of their probation. In these types of cases, a DC DUI lawyer is necessary to both defend you from the new DUI charge and keep you from violating your probation.

Defining Probation

Probation is part of a sentence imposed by a judge in lieu of requiring a defendant to serve longer amounts of jail time. That means that a judge sentencing a person found guilty of driving under the influence can impose a certain amount of jail time, but is not required to have a defendant serve the entirety of that jail time.

As an example, when a person facing sentencing on a first offense DUI in DC, someone arrested and found guilty of a first offense driving under the influence charge it is up to the judge to sentence that person. The judge could say, “This is your first offense so I am going to give you a 45-day jail sentence, but I am going to suspend the imposition of that sentence.” That means that a person would not serve that 45-day jail sentence. Instead of serving the 45 days of jail, the judge could place the person on one year of supervised probation with certain conditions with which a person would have to comply.


Those conditions could be a requirement to enroll and complete alcohol courses, community service, and a defensive driver course as well as submit to weekly urine testing. The conditions are up to the judge. More important than any other condition is the requirement that while a person is on probation that person cannot be rearrested for any offense, whether it is a DUI, assault, drug charge, or something else.

The requirement to not be rearrested is perhaps the most important requirement while a person is on probation, because if a person gets rearrested and a judge finds that there was probable cause for that re-arrest, the judge could revoke the defendant’s probation and impose the entirety of the suspended sentence. If a judge suspended 45 days of jail time and places the defendant on one year of supervised probation and then six months later the defendant gets rearrested for another DUI in DC, the judge would find that there is probable cause to believe the person committed a new DUI and revoke the person’s probation, thereby imposing the entire original 45-day jail sentence.

DUI’s Impact on Original Offenses

If a person is on probation for an assault charge, for example, and while on probation, they get arrested for a DUI charge, the original offense may not have an impact on the person’s DUI charge. More likely, the nature of the re-arrest may have an impact on whether the probation judge decides to revoke a person’s probation, not revoke a person’s probation, or find some resolution in the middle.

As an example, if a person is on probation for a DUI and gets arrested for another DUI while on probation, the judge who originally imposed the probation might be more likely to revoke the person’s probation and oppose this full suspended sentence. But, if a person is on probation for DUI and gets rearrested for an offense that has nothing to do with alcohol, the DUI probation judge might be more willing to wait to see the outcome of the case and potentially not to revoke the person’s probation even if convicted. The relevant factor is whether the person gets rearrested for a DUI while on a DUI probation as opposed to whether a person gets arrested for a DUI while on some other kind of probation.


When a person is on probation and gets rearrested, the person is facing two different situations. The person is facing the possible penalties as a result of being convicted on the new case, but also the penalties associated with violating the original probation. These can limit a person’s options. With a DUI case where a person has no other pending cases, a person always has the option of reaching a negotiated plea agreement or taking the case to a trial.

In a situation where a person gets a DUI while already on probation for another matter, pleading guilty or going to trial and being found guilty could result in having that person’s probation being violated and revoked, in which case the person would face the penalty of having a judge impose the original sentence that was suspended on the first case. That might make any negotiated resolution less appealing since it would potentially result in a violation of the person’s probation. A person who is facing DUI charges and is on probation for another matter may find that their options more limited than a person who is facing a DUI charge and is not on probation.

Revocation of Probation

This revocation of a person’s probation could take place even if a person has not been convicted of the new DUI. A person would be facing new penalties if convicted for the second DUI. Even before the person’s conviction, if a judge finds that there is probable cause for the arrest, which is a much lower standard of proof than the proof required to convict the person of a DUI, they could still revoke a person’s probation. It is not uncommon, however, for judges to agree to not revoke a person’s probation as a result of a re-arrest.

The person’s defense lawyer can argue to the judge that if a person is otherwise doing well on probation, meaning the defendant is completing alcohol programs, submitting to urine tests, and complying with all their conditions, the judge should not revoke a person’s probation unless the person gets convicted of the new DUI. These are arguments that DUI lawyers will have to make convincingly to get a judge to agree to wait for the outcome of the new case before deciding what to do about a person’s probation.

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