Most DUI-DWI Convictions Require Community Service
Most DUI-DWI statutes require some community service work as a part of their mandatory punishment scheme. Most of these statutes require a "minimum" number of hours, depending on whether your offense is a first, second or subsequent offense within your state's "lookback" period. For example, in Georgia, the lookback period is five years, from the date of arrest to the next date of arrest. In South Carolina, the lookback period is ten years, creating a longer time frame within which to trigger mandatory, harsher punishment for repeat offenders. Nearly a dozen states have eliminated "lookback" periods and will review your entire driving history. This trend of reviewing your lifetime driving history will likely spread to other states in the next decade.
If your DUI-DWI attorney recommends community service, THEN DO IT!
If your DUI-DWI attorney recommends that you begin doing community service hours, follow his or her advice. Getting these hours done at a charitable or non-profit organization may provide your attorney with a bargaining tool with which to approach your prosecutor.
Doing community service BEFORE trial can help you during sentencing if you're convicted.
An additional reason that your attorney may tell you to start community service hours is that your prompt and early commitment to do public service may be beneficial to you if you are required to go to trial and (unfortunately) lose the case. By showing the trial judge that you "took the bull by the horns" and got involved in a DUI-DWI school, alcohol assessment and treatment and performed community service hours, such actions can help mitigate your punishment at sentencing. In some courts, the judge may be inclined to permit you to serve all or most of the detention period on home confinement or "work release" (allowing you to go to work to protect your job).
Doing community service before trial might mean the TYPE you have do is better than what the judge might order during sentencing.
Another benefit to performing community service in advance might be that the TYPE of service you are permitted to perform on your own might be far better than the work the judge may order you to perform after sentencing. Many jurisdictions have very unpleasant jobs for their "county" programs, including cleaning out the dog pound, collecting garbage or cleaning public toilets. Make sure you have chosen a knowledgeable DUI-DWI specialist who advises you regarding when, how and where to perform these hours in order to get full credit from your judge when you later appear in court to resolve your case (hopefully with a reduced or deferred plea of some type). Most courts require detailed records of all community service hours.
Doing community service before your case is resolved at trial or through a plea might mean you won't have to pay "probation supervision fees."
Yet another benefit to having all of the "conditions" required by that court completed in your case before the case is disposed of by a negotiated plea reduction or a trial is that you may be able to avoid "probation supervision fees." These are monthly costs for a probation officer to oversee and check up on your progress in completing any court-ordered punishment such as DUI-DWI school or community service. By having 100% of all conditions completed, your attorney can request the judge allow your probation to become "non-reporting," thereby possibly saving you from $15 to $60 per month, depending on the costs of this oversight in your state.
If community service and other penalities are satisfied, some state may terminate or "suspend" your probation.
Although rare in DUI-DWI prosecutions, some states may terminate probation or "suspend" probation if you have performed all of the required "penalties" ordered by the judge. If your probation is terminated or suspended, you would no longer be "on probation" and subject to being re-arrested for a probation violation, if you fail to complete all ordered tasks. Even where your probation cannot be terminated or suspended (due to mandatory probation being part of your state's laws), your legal counsel may be able to negotiate with your court to allow your probation to become "non-reporting." This means that you may not need to travel to see your probation officer on a periodic basis and (possibly) not have to pay the monthly "supervision" fee.
Doing community service before sentencing shows remorese and acceptance of responsibility for your actions, which may help you during sentencing.
If you have been proactive, having accomplished a large number of hours of community service at the time of your sentencing, this can be used by you and your attorney to show your remorse and your acceptance of responsibility for your actions. The sentence you are given by the judge might then be substantially reduced over what you would have received as a punishment if you had done nothing in advance. This is true for "reduced" pleas as well as when the case is resolved as a DUI-DWI.
Community service can be good for the soul!
Many people who get involved in community service find that they ENJOY it. If given an option, always try to choose a type of service that fits your personal "criteria." If you enjoy working with animals, look for a charity that protects or places pets. If you like working with children, find a project that taps into this preference. You may find that even when your term of service is over, you continue to provide volunteer hours for the same non-profit organization in the future.
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