If your DUI arrest ended with a conviction, you faced the potential for some serious penalties. Tennessee has some harsh consequences for drunk driving offenses, including mandatory jail time. Fortunately, after you serve the mandatory minimum, the judge may suspend the rest of your sentence. This means you will be on probation until you complete your sentence.
While you may rejoice at your release from jail, it is important that you fully understand what probation means. Living under the terms of your court order may not be easy, and you may need to reach out for legal advice if you get into trouble.
What does probation look like?
Probation allows you to return to your normal life, living at home, working your job and being with your family. As a result, it may be easy to forget that you are still serving a sentence for a criminal conviction. Although you will not have physical bars around you, you do have the limitations of your probationary terms. Although the judge has discretion to impose any reasonable terms, the most common include the following:
- Regular meetings with a probation officer
- Scheduled court appearances
- Drug or alcohol counseling
- Restitution if your arrest resulted from an accident or injuries to someone else
- Restrictions on those with whom you may socialize
- Restrictions on the places you may go
- Limits on where you can travel outside of Tennessee
- Bans on the possession and use of illegal drugs
- Zero tolerance for any negative encounters with police, including traffic violations or getting arrested
Violating these terms can bring swift and severe penalties, including the revocation of your probation. This means you will serve the rest of your sentence back in jail. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the violation, the judge may exercise the options of adding more time to your sentence. If the violation was not serious enough to send you back you jail, you may face additional terms on your court order, an extension of your probation or fines.
You have the opportunity to defend yourself if your probation officer decides the supposed violation warrants a hearing before a judge. Your attorney may present evidence to show the judge that you did not commit the violation or that the violation of your probation resulted from unavoidable extenuating circumstances. No matter the situation, having a strong legal ally can improve your chances of staying out of jail after an alleged probation violation.