If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a DUI in Washington, there are long term consequences. Typically a first offense DUI conviction with a low breath test result and no aggravating factors will result in a judge imposing the mandatory minimum sentence required by law. The judge may say something like, “I sentence you to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. I am suspending 363 days of the jail, and $4,650 of the fine on the following terms and conditions...“ When a judge suspends a sentence, it means that if you do everything you are required to do during your probationary period, you will not have to serve the suspended jail or pay the suspended portion of the fine. However, if you violate the terms and conditions of your probation, the judge may impose some or all of the suspended jail and fine.
What to Expect on Probation
Chemical Dependency Assessments
Unless you have already completed a chemical dependency assessment at the time of your sentencing, the judge is required to order you to obtain a chemical dependency assessment and complete any recommended treatment. A chemical dependency evaluation examines your use of alcohol, marijuana, and controlled substances including prescription medications. If you use any substance in a manner that causes concern, the assessor will make recommendations to address this use. Recommendations vary from attending an eight-house educational class if no significant problem is detected, to completing a treatment program if concerns are identified. Complying with the assessor's treatment recommendations is required by law.
Fines and Restitution
On the day of sentencing, the court advises you of any fines, assessments, or restitution. Assessments are fees added to a fine; they can be earmarked for specific state programs. Restitution may be ordered if there was an accident or damage resulting from the DUI. Many people cannot pay the fines, assessments, and restitution on the day they are sentenced. The court is required to inquire into your ability to pay and to set a payment schedule accordingly. The Probation Department monitors your payments of fines, assessments, and restitution to ensure you are up-to-date with your payments according to the schedule set by the court.
New Criminal Law Violations
The probation office is required to run periodic background checks to confirm that you have not been charged or convicted of any new criminal law violations. If a new criminal violation is discovered, the court will summon you to court for failing to comply with the conditions of your sentence. During the failure to comply hearing, you will have an opportunity to challenge the alleged non-compliance before the judge decides what, if any, sanctions to impose. Possible sanctions may include revocation of suspended jail, fines, or the imposition of additional conditions.
You are expected to let probation know your current address and phone number. Depending on your level of probation, you may be expected to provide random urinalysis or breathalyzer tests to prove you are not consuming unauthorized chemical substances.
If you have been charged with a DUI or misdemeanor crime, probation may be a part of your sentence. Contact the Pewitt Law Group, PLLC today either online or at 206-941-0009 to schedule a consultation.