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How much jail time would I get if I violated my probation for DUI because I couldn't pay the fines? (First offense)

Tampa, FL |

I was put on probation for 6 months in the beginning of December and the DUI was dropped down to reckless driving since I wasn't even driving. The judge ordered me to pay fines and go to DUI school which will cost me a little over $1000. I'm currently not working and I'm unable to afford to pay the fines, DUI school and the probation cost. If I tell the judge I cannot pay the fines will he put me in jail and how long would I be in jail?

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Attorney answers 3


The max you are facing is 90 days jail on a Reckless driving charge. Theoretically, you can't go to jail just because you can't afford financial conditions. It needs to be a willful violation and if you can't afford fines, etc., then they can't put you in jail because they don't have "debtors prison" in America. That said, you need to make sure you are doing everything possible to pay off and do the conditions. Since you are not working, ask your P.O. about doing community service in lieu of the fine. As far as the school, I strongly suggest you do what it takes to get that done. Since you are facing jail on the violation, you will be appointed a public defender so I would talk to them further about this. Good luck.


Try to make your probation officers life easy. Go to class, show up for appointments, be on time, pay the fines, but if you can't do all of this and your probation officer is not forgiving, then you may need an attorney private or public defender to help you. I like the idea of trying to community service instead of the fines like Mr. E said. If the probation officer goes for that, AND recommends that to the judge, then you won't have to worry about getting an attorney. Please click on our website. It does no cost anything. Thank you.


If your question is "can you be violated if court costs are still outstanding?", then the short answer is “yes.” However, the analysis does not end there because Florida case law is quite clear in that any violation of probation must be willful.

In other words, if you are unable to make payments due to conditions beyond your control, income, medical bills, loss of job, you are the sole bread winner in your family, etc., then it is not necessarily willful. Nevertheless, that is a factual issue that must be determined by a judge, quite possibly at a Violation Final hearing. Please understand that your probation officer is not your friend and he/she has a job to do and has duties and obligations like anybody else. His/her loyalties lie with the office of probation and not to you.
My advice would be to get in front of a judge on a motion to terminate probation early with the court costs assessed as a lien. However, be prepared to present evidence in your argument that due to your unique financial situation, you cannot meet your payment obligations to probation.

Good luck

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