Some Judges Require Probation Before a DUI Conviction

Believe it or not, Judges are ordering citizens who are charged with DUI into “probation” before there is even a conviction. Most people find this puzzling, since probation should come AFTER a conviction, not before. Traditionally, probation is a period of time after a criminal conviction where a citizen is ordered by a Judge to do certain things, but more often, to NOT do certain things. Because a convicted person loses some rights and privileges, probation conditions after a conviction are not surprising and are even expected. However, the cart has been put before the horse in DUI cases. In Skagit County and Whatcom County, it is not unusual for the judges to impose “pre-trial probation” upon those arrested and charged with DUI. This pre-conviction “probation,” is called Pre-Trial Monitoring or Pre-Trial Supervision, and is imposed the very first time a citizen appears before a judge (arraignment). It is not uncommon for a citizens in Skagit and Whatcom Counties who are charged with DUI and have not been convicted of anything to be required to immediately report to the probation office for the assignment of a probation officer, submit to random urinalysis at the discretion of your probation officer, report as they see fit, and then pay fee for this! For most first time DUI arrestees in other courts the “standard,” DUI conditions usually require a person to drive only with a valid license and insurance; not to possess or consume alcohol; to appear in court when ordered to do so; and to have no criminal law violations while the case is pending. In Whatcom and Skagit Counties, however, these conditions are increased to include the more restrictive pre-trial release conditions described above when a person is facing their second DUI charge or (on a first offense) if it is alleged that the accused blew an abnormally high breath test reading. If you are facing a DUI charge in one of these counties it is imperative that you have an experienced DUI lawyer to ensure that your rights are preserved from the first moment you appear in court. DUI is a serious charge and has serious consequences, which is why the Constitution affords every citizen, even those who are accused of DUI, the presumption of innocence.