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Georgia DUI Probation Q & A: From DUI Lawyer Evan Watson

Probation Officer Jacket

The following are common questions about DUI probation and probation revocation hearings in Georgia. If you have other specific questions, call our office 24/7 at (770) 676 1340. If you have been told by your PO that they will be revoking your probation, or that you need to come in for a violation, then call us immediately!

If you are on probation for a crime other that DUI, give us a call today- we have successfully handled into the hundreds of probation revocation cases for drug, theft, and even violent crimes as well.

Q: How long can I be put on probation for in Georgia for a DUI?

In Georgia, most DUI crimes are misdemeanors where you can be sentenced to a maximum of 12 months probation or jail time. It is common for a judge to sentence someone to 24 hours in jail on a first DUI, with the remaining 11 months and 29 days on probation. Sometimes, prosecutors will want a plea to more than one count arising from your arrest in order to gain a longer probation sentence. For example, if you plead to DUI and plead to failure to maintain lane, the judge can sentence you to up to 24 months of total probation. This means that on a DUI probation revocation hearing, you are facing having a longer period of time revoked to spend in jail. Remember, your sentence begins to run on the day you enter your plea.

If your case is a crime other that DUI, you can be placed on probation for the maximum amount of jail or prison time you could receive for the crime. Some common maximum times are:

  • 12 months on all misdemeanors (but remember, charges can be stacked, or made to run consecutive to each other, totaling a longer probation period)
  • 3 years on many felony possession charges
  • 25 years aggravated assault and battery charges
  • 10 years false imprisonment
  • 10 years aggravated stalking
  • 25 years burglary
  • 1-25 years theft by taking

Q: What will I need to do for probation?

What you are required to do for probation depends on the judge's order in your file. If you plead guilty or nolo, or are found guilty, it is up to the judge to hand down your sentence. The judge's sentence is recorded and put in your case file and a copy is sent to probation. Probation will review your sentence with you and make sure you know what must be done. First DUI s in Georgia usually carry community service, alcohol screens, alcohol dependency testing and other constraints. If you have compelted these requirements before your plea, which I often recommend, then the judge will usually give you credit for these beforehand.

Q: Will I really be tested for alcohol and drugs on probation?

The frequency and probability of testing depend on your particular probation officer and the court's order. Often, judges will order increased screens if the judge foresees they will be helpful. I have some past clients who report they were never tested on probation, while others are tested almost monthly. However, a very common condition of probation is to consume no alcohol or unapproved drugs and have random screens done. If this is the case, you are endangering your case if you do drink. Most probation companies now use ETG testing, which will boast a 3-4 day lookback window.

Q: How can probation test for alcohol?

Most probation offices are now using ETG testing to test for alcohol use. ETG testing looks for a metabolite of alcohol in your urine and boasts detection times of up to 80 hours after your last drink. Other test include traditional urine, blood and breath testing, which can only detect ethanol while it is actually still in your body to some extent.

If you come up positive on a drug or alcohol screen, it is usually best to ask your probation officer to send the test off to confirm its accuracy. Often the first screening tests being used are simple one-use tests that need to be confirmed by a lab.

Q: Where do I find places to do community service for probation?

Start by asking your probation officer if they have a list of approved community service facilities. Some courts do require you to do community service at rather specific locations, so its better to check in advance and not risk being denied your hours. If you are in the Forsyth County or North Fulton area, email me at: and I will send you a list of places in the area.

Q: What is a revocation hearing?

A probation revocation hearing is a hearing where your probation officer is asking to revoke your probation. This occurs when you have failed to stay on track with probation and the officer believes you're in violation of your probation sentence. Common revocation issues are getting arrested again, failing a drug or alcohol screen, failing to report to probation and failing to do all or some of the special terms and conditions of probation. If you are at the point where your probation is being revoked, call our office today to discuss your rights and options at a hearing. You are entitled to an attorney and it is must for probation revocation hearings. Frequently, we are able to negotiate with the PO and achieve a better result. Caution: probation officers do have the power to arrest you on-the-spot, so do not assume you will be able to leave their office or negotiate a turn in date in advance.

Q: How do I end my probation early?

If you have completed all of the requirements of probation and the judge ordered probation to terminate or become non reporting, then you need to speak to your PO and ask them about the process. If the judge did not specifically allow non reporting or early termination in your sentence, then you will need to hire a lawyer to petition the judge. Call our office if you are in this situation, as we handle many early termination hearings annually.

Q: Does the fact I was on probation go on my record?

The fact that you are on probation sometimes appears as part of your sentence on criminal history reports. Technically, it should be on your background along with all of the terms of your sentence, but I do see this information sometimes omitted. The easiest way to find out what your record looks like in Georgia is to pull it at your local police agency.

If you have a probation violation, this information will be transmitted and kept on your criminal record. Prosecutors and the public alike would have access to revocations.

Zeliff | Watson Knows Probation Issues in Georgia

If you have other questions about probation in Georgia, or are facing a probation revocation hearing call our office today at (770) 676-1340 and schedule an appointment to speak with Mr. Watson or Mr. Zeliff about your specific situation. We handle hundreds of cases a year involving probation and will walk you through the process and defend you if necessary. Having your own defense attorney to negotiate with the probation officer and court can mean the difference in serving jail time and being allowed to continue on probation.

We often find that by the time a probation officer is seeking to revoke your probation, it is time for you to have an advocate step in on your behalf. Probation officers carry heavy case loads and calls and attempts to explain yourself or your situation can often go unreturned.

Give us a call today at (770) 676-1340 to begin your probation defense.

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