Can You Drink While On Probation For DUI?

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Answer: Maybe. It depends upon the state you live in, the terms of your probation, and your treatment provider.

Let us explain.

Can You Drink While On Probation For DUI?

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Introduction To DUI Probation

The offense of DUI (driving under the influence) varies dramatically from state to state.

In some cases, DUIs are treated vary seriously, and there are no second chance opportunities (like DUI versions which can result in a 100% dismissal of the case).

In other states, DUIs are treated like a traffic ticket, and do not even rise to the level of a misdemeanor criminal offense.

When it comes to consuming alcohol while on probation, the terms of the probation will control.

Generally, the term are listed on the order of probation.

Common requirements while on probation for DUI include:

  • complete a prescribed amount of jail, or in the alternative a prescribed amount of road crew, or in the alternative a prescribed amount of community service
  • complete a certain number of months of probation (formal or informal), from 12 to 26 months depending
  • pay a fine (may be thousands of dollars)
  • complete a substance and alcohol evaluation
  • successfully complete any treatment recommended in the evaluation
  • installation of an ignition interlock device (blow and go)
  • complete a VIP class (victim impact panel presentation by people who have been impacted by impaired driving)
  • only drive with a valid license
  • not driving under the influence of intoxicants
  • obey all laws
  • report any address or contact information changes

There may or may not be orders in the actual probation terms that prohibit the consumption of alcohol.

Outside of the probation, and as another punishment for the conviction, the defendant may lose his driver’s license for a set amount of time.

If The Probation Says Nothing About Consuming Alcohol, Is It Okay?

At this point, we hope that its obvious that consuming intoxicating substances and driving while under the influence is not okay.

It’ll be against the law and against the terms of probation.

Secondary to that, even though the judgment might not say the words “no consumption of alcohol” there can be reasons why you can’t.

In our experience, every person convicted of DUI who is required to obtain an evaluation for substance abuse treatment gets referred to treatment.

The “treatment” usually requires the attendance of a series of group meetings, where the other attendees are also convicted of DUI.

The treatment providers also generally require that the people who are being treated submit to and pass a certain number of UAs (urinalysis).

Failure to pass a certain number of UAs (or failing to get them done) means that the defendant will not successfully complete the recommended treatment that is part of probation.

We have seen many defendants follow all the court’s demands during probation but struggle with the treatment, because the treatment:

  • requires the defendant to show up to meetings for 15-20 weeks in a row
  • puts defendants on the hotline for random UAs, so consuming alcohol is a bit like rolling the dice
  • demands that the defendant take the treatment seriously (and many do not think that they have a problem)

For this reason, even though the terms of probation might not saw anything about consuming alcohol, defendants can still fail to complete probation due to the consumption of alcohol.

But then again, defendants who do not have to complete treatment won’t have to worry about this at all.

Other Alcohol Related Offenses

Keep in mind that the terms of probation will include a “violate no laws” command.

If a defendant were to consume alcohol and that consumption of alcohol were to lead to additional criminal charges, the defendant would be in violation of his DUI probation.

If the defendant is not yet 21 years old (in the United States) then the defendant could not consume alcohol without violating a law (which he is ordered not to do).

Check Probation Terms

In every case, it is best practices to check the actual written terms of the probation ordered.

Accepting what other people tell you or assume is a recipe for failing probation.

If you don’t understand what the terms of probation are or mean, ask the judge during sentencing, or seek out the advice of an attorney after the fact.

What If The Judge Says “Don’t Drink” But The Order Doesn’t Say That?

This is a great time to get some clarification from your attorney to ask about the verbal order.

Wrap Up

Want to learn more about your criminal justice system?

Browse our free legal library guides for more information.

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Can You Drink While On Probation For DUI