Washington residents who are convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face a range of penalties. While those with several prior DUI convictions may face felony drunk driving charges, first-time offenders are generally treated more leniently. In these situations, judges forgo custodial sentences in favor of community service, probation and substance abuse counseling. Many DUI offenders must also have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.
Individuals who are placed on probation will generally be required to report to their probation officer on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. Drunk driving offenders are usually expected to refrain from drinking or taking drugs while on probation, and judges may impose additional conditions based on the facts of the case. Probation offers offenders the opportunity to avoid incarceration, but it can be terminated quickly if offenders do not follow the rules.
DUI offenders who are on probation should understand that probation officers also work in the field and make home visits. During such visits, officers may check to ensure that the information provided by offenders, such as their living and working arrangements, are true. They may also ask for a breath sample to check for alcohol consumption. Probation is often ordered for a year or longer to reduce the chances of recidivism, but it may be cut short when offenders do what is asked of them.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys may support measures that are designed to rehabilitate offenders rather than punish them. Furthermore, they could urge prosecutors to consider alternatives to incarceration in misdemeanor drunk driving cases. Attorneys may add weight to these arguments by pointing out mitigating factors such as a previously unblemished record, gainful employment and sincere remorse.