Probation in a Michigan DUI Case
It is a statistical fact that the overwhelming majority of DUI cases result in some kind of Probationary Sentence. Often, when faced with the very idea of going to Jail, a person facing a DUI will offer to “do any kind of Probation”. As a lawyer, I think it is important to examine the Probation in Michigan DUI cases – there are different “kinds” of Probation, at least in the Courts of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. In this section, we’ll take a quick look at the general meaning of the term “Probation,” and get a sense of what it means and what it does not. In the sections that follow, we’ll look at Probation in 1st, 2nd and 3rd Offense cases
In the broadest sense, Probation means that someone is watching you, and if you don’t do what you’re supposed to, bad things can happen. In Michigan, young drivers have a “Probationary” Driver’s License for at least the first 3 years. A new employee may be hired in and put on Probation for the first 90 days, while a student with bad grades may be placed on “academic Probation” until his or her grades improve. In all cases, the threat is that if the person does NOT follow the rules, they can lose their privileges. In the cases above, this means losing the ability to drive, losing the job, or being kicked out of school. In a DUI, not following the rules of Probation can result in going to Jail.
Probation can range from the easiest type, like non-reporting, to what is often called “Probation from Hell,” meaning a person has to do (and not do) so many things it seems like Jail may not have been all that bad. Of course, everyone knows that, as a general rule, things are going to be easier and more lenient in a 1st Offense case than in a 2nd Offense case, and that a 3rd Offense, Felony case is going to be worse still. Obviously then, a 1st Offender is looking at a much softer outcome than someone dealing with a 3rd Offense Felony DUI charge. Let’s take a brief glance at the range of different kinds of Probation a person can face in a real-world DUI case:
Non-reporting Probation. This is the easiest (and rarest) form of Probation. At its most basic, it means a person is simply told by the Judge to stay out of trouble. Jail is virtually never part of a non-reporting Probation Sentence. A person given non-Reporting Probation usually need not do anything except NOT get in trouble. “Trouble” in that sense, means being convicted of any new Offenses, but can also mean simply being charged with a new crime. At the end of the term (usually a year) the Court checks the person’s Record, and if it’s clean, they are discharged from Probation and the matter is considered closed.
Reporting Probation with general conditions. This is really the “garden variety” kind of Probation that most people face. The reporting requirement means that they have to check in with a Probation Officer periodically. Most often, this is monthly, but sometimes it can be every other month, or even quarterly. Beyond just staying out of trouble, a person on general reporting Probation is usually Ordered by the Judge to do certain things, like not drink alcohol (this is increasingly being enforced by alcohol testing), complete counseling or education, and perhaps do some community service.
Reporting Probation with special conditions. You can call this one “Probation from Hell.” Beyond just reporting and staying out of trouble, this kind of Probation carries a long list of do’s and don’ts. “Special” conditions include an Order that a person not so much as be Arrested for any Offense, or even given a Traffic Ticket. It can also include House Arrest or placement in a residential treatment facility (this is thankfully rare). By the time a Judge gets to piling on the “special conditions,” it usually means he or she has run out of “regular conditions.” This mountain of conditions accounts for the “Probation from Hell” designation.
This section sets forth a very general outline. We have looked at the easy end of things, the middle, and the toughest extreme. There are endless points between any of these three places. Most people with a DUI wind up precisely at one of those “in-between” spots. My Job, as a DUI Lawyer, is always to get things as far toward the easy end of things as possible, and through my experience in Michigan, I have developed very effective strategies to do just that. I will protect you from being unnecessarily hammered with classes and counseling and conditions and testing and the like.
In the final analysis, success in a DUI case is often measured more by what doesn’t happen to a person than by what does. In all cases, when it comes to Probation, less is definitely more, and as your Detroit DUI attorney, I strive to minimize your sentences…