What to Do if You’ve Violated Your DUI Probation

Ryan Robertson
By: Ryan Robertson
PublishedJan 7, 2024
6 minute read

Probation may seem tough, but violating it can bring even harsher penalties. This could mean extra fines or even jail time. Colorado courts are strict with probation violations, especially by those convicted of driving under the influence. If you’ve slipped up, it’s important to understand what the potential ramifications are and how to possibly limit them.

Bottom Line:

You could end up having an extended probation sentence, and potentially serve time in jail if you are found to have violated your probation. Make sure you have a criminal defense attorney who can straighten out a misunderstanding with your probation officer or fight to get you the best deal.

Colorado Probation 

Probation lets people avoid certain punishments, like jail time, as long as they follow the court’s specific rules. For instance, many individuals charged with their first, second, or third misdemeanor DUI-related offense receive probation.

Probation focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishing the offender, although the restrictions and penalties can certainly feel punitive.

The Consequences of Getting Your Probation Revoked 

Violating your DUI probation, including committing new crimes, means you’re in real trouble.

Judges can impose more probation sanctions or revoke it entirely. Additional penalties can include:

  • up to a year in jail
  • a longer probation term
  • larger fines
  • more oversight, therapy, or treatment
  • a longer driver’s license suspension

Did I Violate Probation?

Common DUI Probation Violations 

Here is a list of common DUI-related probation terms and the actions (or non-actions) that are probation violations:

  • Picking Up a New Charge: A requirement that will be in place for any probation sentence imposed is the requirement that you not commit a new violation of law.  Committing, and being convicted of, a new offense beyond that of a minor traffic infraction can be grounds for revocation.
  • Missing Probation Officer Meetings: Regular meetings with a designated probation officer are mandatory, along with paying a monthly supervision fee of about $50. The burden is on you to maintain communication with your probation officer, or ‘PO.’ Missing even one meeting without your PO’s permission is a violation. Showing up late to meetings and failing to pay the monthly fee can also be grounds for revocation.
  • Failing to Stay Sober: Expect routine, random chemical tests, such as blood, breathalyzer, or urine screenings, to ensure you’re not using drugs and alcohol. If you are a repeat or high-risk offender, you may be required to wear a 24/7 monitoring device. Obviously, if you fail a random chemical test, try to submit a false or diluted urine sample, or are caught tampering with a monitoring device, your probation can be revoked.
  • Ditching Community Service: You’re required to complete 24 to 96 hours of community service at a court-approved non-profit organization. Verify with your attorney or your PO that your community service time is counted. Failing to complete your required service, or even to show up for service, could violate the terms of your probation.
  • Ducking Financial Commitments: Pay all fines and court costs in full or set up a satisfactory payment plan. Do not assume the court will let you slide on this if you comply with all other terms. Making no attempt to cover fines and costs not only violates terms, but demonstrates a lack of accountability.
  • Missing Education Classes: You’re expected to attend required drug/alcohol education and therapy. If you are a first-time offender, you might get the 3-day Level I course. If you’re a repeat DUI offender, you’re sent to the more expansive Level II program. Level II education and therapy can take anywhere from 12 weeks to 10 months to complete. Failing to attend is an obvious breach of probation. However, showing up and refusing to engage with the program can also count against you.
  • Avoiding the Victim Impact Panel: Remember, the goal of probation is rehabilitation. You must attend a 3-hour Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) victim impact session before your probation ends. If you satisfy all other terms but forget the MADD panel, you’ll have to explain yourself to the judge. He or she could revoke or extend the term of your probation if they don’t believe your explanation.
  • Disregarding Lawful Compliance: You are expected to immediately report any contact between yourself and police to your probation officer. Comply with all court orders and additional probation conditions, which may include:
    • Travel restrictions,
    • Keeping the probation office updated on your address and employment,
    • Allowing probation to search your home, your person, or vehicle at any time without a warrant,
    • Not possessing firearms or other weapons during probation

Colorado Revised Statutes 18-1.3-204 outlines all the technical probation conditions in detail.

Unintended Violations are Still Violations 

It’s possible to unintentionally violate the technical terms of your probation if you’re not careful. After all, you wake up in your own bed each morning, go to work or school, and continue to see friends and family. It can be easy to forget the restrictions placed on you.

Specific terms can vary from case to case. So can what constitutes a technical violation. It’s important that you understand, and keep in mind, all the terms of your probation to avoid accidental violations.

You’ve Violated Probation. What now? 

If you’ve stepped outside the line of your probation rules, your probation officer must decide what happens next. This often depends on the nature and severity of your violation. The PO can:

  • overlook the violation or let you off with a warning,
  • increase your fines and/or community service time,
  • issue a complaint and summons for you to appear in court, or
  • issue a warrant for your arrest.

If you’re arrested and/or summoned back to court, you’ll attend a probation revocation hearing.

The Probation Revocation Process

Your probation officer must file a report and complaint if there’s a suspected violation. This is called a Complaint and Report of Probation Officer, or a C+R.  This document will list the reason(s) why your probation officer believes you have violated your probation.

When issuing this complaint to you, the probation officer will usually make a recommendation to the Court that is listed in your C+R.  Sometimes the sanctions are minor, other times they are harsh.

No matter the severity, at this point, you’re going to need a criminal defense attorney.

The Revocation Hearing 

The revocation hearing is a hearing in which the prosecution must prove that you violated the terms of your probation sentence.  If the prosecution is able to prove this, then your sentence will be reassessed by the Court.

The burden for proving a technical violation is merely ‘a preponderance of the evidence.’ — Colorado Revised Statutes 16-11-205. The prosecution only needs to show that you most likely violated the terms of your probation.

This is a difficult standard to defend against. Plus, the district attorney and your probation officer generally have the court’s trust.

Two other factors that make revocation hearings difficult to defend against are:

  1. ‘Hearsay’ rules are more relaxed than in criminal trials, and
  2. The outcome is decided by a judge, not a jury.
Challenging the Violation Claims 

You have a right to present any witnesses or evidence at this hearing. The court must also grant you the opportunity to challenge or cross-examine any evidence used against you.

Additionally, you can also request a later hearing so your attorney can prepare your defense. The judge can release you on bail or bond until the hearing.

After the revocation hearing, the court will decide within seven days to revoke or continue your probation. Either way, there could be a variety of possible outcomes, which I’ll discuss later.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help at a Probation Revocation Hearing 

Your Sixth Amendment right to a defense attorney still applies in probation revocation matters. In fact, this is where having good counsel can be extremely beneficial.

A minor technical violation can amount to a simple misunderstanding. A proactive defense lawyer can prevent a violation complaint by negotiating with your probation officer. For example, if you:

  • missed a mandatory drug/alcohol education class,
  • failed to show up for community service,
  • fell behind on paying off fines or court costs, or
  • skipped a mandatory meeting with your PO,

… your criminal defense attorney can step in and clarify the issue and help you avoid an arrest or court summons.

If a complaint has been filed, your attorney can still negotiate with the probation officer for less severe consequences.

The Revocation Process After a New Crime 

If the only violation asserted against you is that you committed a new crime, then your revocation hearing cannot take place until the new charge has been adjudicated. However, if you are accused of both technical violations and having committed a new offense, then the court can still address any technical violations alleged.

For example: You’re charged with vehicular assault because you seriously injured someone while driving after consuming alcohol. You are entitled to a full criminal trial for the vehicular assault charge. However, consuming alcohol is a violation of your current probation terms.

Potential Outcomes of a Revocation Hearing 

The best possible outcome is for the judge to find no violation. Your probation continues unchanged as if no complaint was ever filed. This outcome is rare.

The next-best outcome is for the judge to find a violation, but still give you another chance. In this case, your probation terms could be tightened or adjusted, with measures like:

  • GPS monitoring to keep closer tabs on you,
  • Extra hours of community service,
  • Increased fines,
  • House arrest,
  • A longer suspension of your driver’s license,
  • Enrollment in a mandatory work release program (if one is available), or
  • Jail time, which can be limited to weekends.

These outcomes are also possible through a negotiated plea agreement either at or before your revocation hearing.

The worst outcome, of course, is for the judge to completely revoke your probation. If this occurs, then the ‘suspended’ punishments come into play. The judge can even order you to complete the rest of your sentence in jail. Even for a first-time DUI offense, that sentence can be up to a year.

Don’t Face a Probation Revocation Alone 

Many times, a probation violation is a simple misunderstanding. In fact, the complaint against you could even be unfair or baseless. Whatever your situation is, you need a seasoned, aggressive criminal defense attorney advocating on your behalf. We’re experienced at handling probation revocation cases. We will work to restore your probation and keep you out of jail. Call 303-688-0944 for a review of your case.

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