Probation (by DaytonDUI)
Most OVI (drunk driving) cases in Ohio are misdemeanor offenses which are litigated in a Municipal Court. Given the multiplicity of Municipal Courts in the state, your probation experience may differ, but this article will address the generalities of probation (now called ‘community control’). As always, please consult your OVI attorney about the court your case will be heard. You attorney will give you information specific to your case. This is an example of where your attorney’s experience with the court is important.
What is probation?
The Municipal Court’s Probation Department oversees all persons placed on probation as the result of a traffic or criminal conviction. It is the goal of probation to monitor compliance with the sentence imposed by the judge, thereby reducing involvement of further criminal activity. Probation officers assess the needs of the defendant and monitor the compliance of their terms of probation, as determined by the court. Conditions of probation can include paying restitution, alcohol and mental health assessments, counseling and community service. Defendants are assigned to a probation officer who will supervise the conditions of their probation and provide assistance in complying with those conditions.
I was placed on probation, now what?
The first and most important obligation is keeping your appointment with your probation officer. Some courts will require you to meet with a probation officer before you leave court following your disposition. Other courts may make an appointment for you, or require you to contact the Probation Department to schedule an appointment. Getting off on the right foot with your probation officer will establish your credibility and may save you multiple problems down the road. If you should miss your appointment, contact the probation department immediately explaining the reason for your absence and request a new reporting date. It may also help to have your attorney contact the probation department on your behalf to explain your absence and reassure the probation officer of your cooperation. If you missed your appointment or need to reschedule your upcoming appointment, you must speak directly with your probation officer during regular business hours for a new appointment. Leaving a message is unacceptable.
What should I tell my P.O.?
You must provide the probation officer with your address and telephone number. If any of this information changes you must contact your probation officer and (in most cases) fill out forms attesting to your change of circumstances. You must proactively inform your probation officer of any complications that may arise due to your particular case. Inform you P.O. about your job, typical hours, driving requirements, child care arrangements, regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments, travel/vacation plans and/or treatment plans. Let common sense be your guide. The probation officer has a job to do and the easier you make his or her job, the more credibility you build. Your probation officer is not your enemy and is not someone you want to make into an enemy. If you have questions or problems, please notify your attorney immediately.
What are the rules?
Municipal Court have adopted “General Rules” for probation. You must pay close attention to these requirements! Failure to follow the rules of probation may result in incarceration. In addition to the “General Rules” some judges will tell you of a specific expectation that applies to your case. House Arrest, SCRAM monitoring and Ignition Interlock Devices are employed as terms of probation in some DUI/OVI cases. Here is a SAMPLE of the standard rules of probation. These are provided for your convenience, but you are urged to remember that these are the standard conditions and the judge may impose additional conditions.
- Probationer shall not violate any federal, state or local law which carries a possible jail sentence upon conviction.
- Probationer must notify the clerk of court and the probation officer of any change in probationer’s place of residence.
- Probationer must follow all of the probation officer’s instructions and rules, including attending all conferences on the date, time and place as set by the probation officer.
- Probationer must sign all necessary release of information forms in order to permit the counseling agencies involved with probationer’s terms of probation/sentence to provide proof of counseling to the court.
- Probationer agrees to submit to urinalysis, breathalyzer or blood test when requested to do so by the Municipal Court probation officer.
- Probationer may not operate a motor vehicle unless he/she has a valid operator’s license and current proof of financial responsibility.
- Probationer may not possess, use, distribute or have under his/her control any illegal drugs, narcotics, or other controlled substances or instruments for administering them except on the prescription of a licensed physician.
- Probationer may not own, carry or keep any firearm or any dangerous weapon while on probation.
- Probationer must pay his/her fines and costs as ordered by the court.
- Probationer must pay restitution to the victim as ordered by the court.
- Probationer must pay the costs of counseling as ordered by the court.
- Probationer must report to the appropriate jail to serve his/her sentence on the date and time as ordered by the court.
What is the worst that could happen?
If you violate the rules of probation you may be placed in jail. You may also receive a notice telling you that a probation violation has been filed against you. You must report for the hearing on the date and time stated on the notice. You are entitled to be represented by an attorney at the hearing and may request the appointment of counsel if you are unable to afford an attorney. You can challenge the reason(s) for the violation or admit at a hearing before the judge of the Municipal Court. If you are found to have violated your probation, you may be placed in jail for any jail time that was suspended at the time of your disposition.
How does house arrest work?
If you are placed on house arrest, you must remain in your residence, but may be released to attend work. This is often a very favorable alternative to incarceration. Most judges who place you on house arrest will require you to wear an electronic monitor to insure compliance with the restriction. In many jurisdiction in the Miami Valley, the monitoring requires a “landline” service and cannot work if the only phone you have is a cell phone. The costs and rules for house arrest vary from court to court but always require an installation fee and a per day cost. Most courts will require payment of these fees in advance of letting you take advantage of the house arrest program.
What is the SCRAM unit?
The SCRAM unit is an alcohol monitor worn on the your ankle which measures alcohol intake transdermally through your pores. You will be forbidden to drink while wearing the monitor under direct supervision of the court. The initial cost of the program can be expensive. Costs include equipment rental, hookup and first week’s service, and a daily or weekly charge thereafter throughout the duration of the program. The equipment rental fee is refundable when the equipment is returned in the same condition as when it was obtained.
How does ignition interlock work?
The ignition interlock device is about the size of a typical cell phone which includes two main components that are hard-wired to your car’s ignition together; the programmed base unit and the breath sampler. The programmed base unit is most often mounted inside your glove box and out of view. The breath sampler component is mounted atop your car’s dashboard or conveniently integrated with your steering column. Before starting your car, you will be required to provide a 1.5 liter of breath sample. If the car breathalyzer detects a level within its programmed range, you can immediately start your vehicle and go about your business. If your blood-alcohol level is over the programmed reading, you will not be able to start your vehicle but you can do another test within approximately 15 minutes. You will also be subjected to “rolling tests” to prevent consumption of alcohol subsequent to getting the car started. Be aware; if you pull over to conduct the breath test and fail, you may be stranded at the location. It is also important to understand that your car will not automatically shut down upon a failed test.
The device is not mandatory on a first offense OVI in Ohio. Judges have discretion to require the ignition interlock device on first offenses, but on subsequent offenses the IID is mandatory. It is important to speak with an experienced DUI attorney who is familiar with the Court/judge presiding over your case to get an idea of whether or not you will likely receive an ignition interlock device on a first offense. Be sure to talk with your attorney about aggravating factors in your case. Be aware that MADD is pushing for the requirement that all first-time DUI offenders must use an ignition interlock device in order to get the car to start. MADD is seeking to implement this mandate in the same way it coerced the states’ into adoption of a .08 alcohol standard, which is to tie the ignition interlock to receiving highway funds. The language stipulates that if states want about 5 percent of their regularly allocated safety money, they must enact a law that requires first-time DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device if they want to continue driving. By seeking implementation in this way, MADD can avoid fights in more driver-friendly state legislatures. Given the long history of pandering to MADD, this commentator is not hopeful of a pro-driver outcome.
DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in Fairborn, Dayton, Springfield, Kettering, Vandalia, Xenia, Miamisburg, Springboro, Huber Heights, Oakwood, Beavercreek, Centerville and throughout Ohio. He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself the Miami Valley’s choice for DUI defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671. For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500. Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter@DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube. You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324. “All I do is DUI”