Is DWI Probation Worse than Prison?

DWI Probation Supervision can be Very Difficult. Get to Know the Truth about New York DWI Probation.

My job is to protect my clients. Avoiding a term of probation supervision is part of that protection. I do recognize the value of the probation department, and when it is appropriate, their services can be invaluable.

For younger people whose parents can not control them (the out of control teens) NYS has a PINS Program (Person In Need of Supervision) and pre-PINS probation program. These forms of probation are where the child reports to a probation officer who provides the child with resources, supervision, and direction (psychological counseling, drug counseling, job counseling, school counseling). I do feel that probation is a good thing for some adults as well. As an alternative to incarceration, probation supervision allows them to remain gainfully employed and get counseling for their drug/alcohol issues. Tompkins County also has a Felony Drug Court Program which is probation based, and more intense in it's rehabilitative goals.

Where I have an issue with probation is where it is recommended or the prosecution wishes to apply it to those adults who do not have drug and/or alcohol dependence issues. Some of these people would not benefit from Court Ordered Probation Supervision. I feel in some respects it is a punishment worse than a short jail sentence.

Recently I was in Court, and was watching an attorney and his client go through a plea and sentencing for a DWI. I observed the judge tell the attorney that because of Probation his client could not now get a condtional license at the DMV. The attorney had a look of shock. What he did not know, and what he failed to tell his surprised client was that once the probation department is involved (You are ON Probation or IN Probation) they decide when and if you get your license back. Not the Court and Not the DMV.

Some of the "terms and conditions" of a three year or five year probation:

1. Report to a Probation Officer or have the Probation Officer make surprise (unannounced)visits to your home or elsewhere (perhaps your job).

2. Remain within the Jurisdiction of the Court unless granted permission to leave (No random visits to relatives or friends or potential job opportunities in other states).

3. Be available for questions from your probation officer.

4. You must receive permission (prior consent) from your Probation Officer before you move, change your job, or remain away from home past 12:00am.

5. Refrain from disreputable people or places.

6. Abstain from the use of all drugs (except by prescription), as well as the use of any intoxicating beverages (alcohol).

7. Stay away from all places where alcoholic drinks (intoxicating beverages) are sold or served for on-premises consumption.

8. You must submit at any time without notice and without a search warrant to a search of your person, residence, vehicle, or other personal property, leased and/or owned that is not your residence and any area under your immediate control and permit seizure of any contraband.

9. You must be granted permission to obtain any type of driving privilege or license whether conditional or unconditional.

10. You may have to place an ignition interlock device on your car, and at your expense as required by the Probation department.

11. You have to submit upon request with or without prior notice to any appropriate test including breath, blood, urine or saliva for the purpose of determining the alcohol and/or drug content.

12. You must undergo an evaluation for alcohol and/or substance abuse and follow through with any treatment and/or counseling recommended, including inpatient and/or aftercare treatment, and shall undergo said treatment for as long as required, all at your expense.

13. You must attend and actively participate in and successfully complete counseling/treatment/educational programming/self help group as designated by Probation.

14. You may not drive a car without permission of Probation. Must inform Probation of all cars owned or operated and their plate numbers.

15. You must work faithfully at a suitable employment or pursue a course of study or vocational training that can lead to suitable employment. You can not quit or change employment without permission by Probation.

16. You are not allowed to own, use, or possess any guns, rifles, shotguns, stun guns, taiser, swords, ballistic knives, gravity knives, weapons, etc.

As to true understanding of the application of the Probation Department's terms. I have had clients forced to decline better employment in neighboring states. I have had client's have to submit to liver enzyme blood screens with Probation seeking to discover weekend drug use.

In some counties, it is well known that their Probation Departments do not give permission to have a driver's license for years. So some things can truly be worse than three or four months in prison.