GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Mark Stodola, American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) Fellow
If you have been convicted of a DWI and your sentence includes supervised probation, there are important things you need to know.
First of all, you are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of individuals who must be on some sort of community supervision as part of their DWI conviction, and probation orders can vary. They can be from a directive that simply orders you to complete certain conditions, to meeting with an officer monthly or even weekly, participating in intensive treatment and/or a DWI Court, or complying with the requirements of an Ignition Interlock Device.
The good news is the majority of sentenced individuals successfully complete their term of probation. For you to be successful, here are some things to consider.
Probation is Serious Business
The Court has placed you on community supervision in lieu of a sentence to jail or prison. This is an opportunity to address those behaviors that led to your arrest. The expectation is that you successfully fulfill your term of probation or the incarceration can still be imposed.
Probation is an Opportunity
Your supervising officer makes sure that you are accountable and fulfill your terms of probation. While protection of the community is of paramount importance, their job is to also provide you with the resources to help change your behaviors so that your last DWI conviction is your last DWI conviction. These resources may include drug, alcohol or mental health treatment, or classes that help you consider those behaviors that lead to your arrest. Your officer knows what resources are available in your community and can help determine which one is most appropriate for you. This is your opportunity to take advantage of these resources.
Probation Can Be Hard Work
The probation requirements that the court has placed on you may feel challenging, especially when you have work and family commitments. Make sure you completely understand your court requirements. Ask, don’t assume! Let your officer know if you are having issues with complying. They want you to be successful.
Perhaps the hardest part of probation will be for you to address those behaviors that led to your getting arrested for driving under the influence. An honest self- assessment takes courage and honesty, but the end result is that it can change your life and the lives of your loved ones. You can do it!
Mark Stodola, APPA Fellow
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