Although community service is a common form of punishment for a DUI conviction, it has not been found to be successful in deterring drunk drivers. Usually, a lawyer uses community service as a means of negotiation in order to mitigate a jail sentence, penalties, or fines. This gives offenders the chance to give back to the community and pay for their crime by doing something beneficial for society.
Common ways for offenders to fulfill their community service hours include:
- Speaking in front of groups about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving
- Helping anti-drunk driving associations
- Cleaning up highways
- Volunteering at charities
Sometimes, offenders are given the chance to choose the charity where they spend time volunteering, particularly if it is the offender’s first DUI offense. In many cases, however, the judge orders the offender to complete his or her community service by volunteering at victims’ rights groups, particularly for victims of drunk driving.
No matter how a person spends his or her community service time, the service is done under the supervision of a probation officer, and all of the hours must be recorded. Offenders must be able to prove to the court that they have completed the total specified number of hours.
The total number of hours of community service that a person can be ordered to perform varies from state to state and also depends on the conditions of the arrest. Some states require a minimum sentence of at least 50 community service hours for a first-time conviction. In other states, the sentence for a first-time conviction can be as little as 24 hours or as much as 100 hours.
Repeat offenders receive harsher penalties. For third time offenders, it is possible to be ordered to serve anywhere from 150 to 600 hours. This, of course, is in addition to other fines, penalties, and jail time.
If an offender prefers not to do community service, it is sometimes possible for him or her to buy community service hours. In special cases where the offender pleads guilty, a lawyer may be able to negotiate a buyout at a rate of $10 per hour. That is to say, if an offender is ordered to serve 50 hours, he or she can pay $500 instead.