I Have to Do Community Service for my DUI. What Does That Mean?

Building houses for the needy is one type of community service

We all know the phrase “community service” from news reports of trials. Last year Dina Lohan, mother of Lindsay, was sentenced to 100 hours of community service for her New York DWI in 2013. Other celebrities have been given that punishment, usually for serious offenses. But in many states, it is regular non-famous citizens who are likely to be sentenced to perform community service after a drunk driving conviction.

What does that mean, exactly? The answer to that varies by states. Some tasks you might be assigned are:

  • Graffiti removal
  • Working for DUI victims’ support group
  • Cleaning highways or parks
  • Working for charities or non-profits (e.g. food banks)
  • Helping at non-profit thrift stores (Salvation Army, etc.)
  • Building and remodeling homes for the poor
  • Assisting disaster relief with the American Red Cross
  • Helping deliver Meals on Wheels
  • Working at an animal shelter
Community service can include work at animal shelters

There are many more options, depending on the state you were convicted in. What’s important to remember is that, like any court-ordered obligation, the service is mandatory. You will be monitored and your supervisor will report your performance to the authorities.

In many states, community service is considered a constructive alternative to imprisonment, for many reasons. One can emerge from it without the stigma of a prison record. It costs less to the taxpayer, and gives the offender a chance to help society.

If you have the chance to do community service instead of prison, consider it a lucky break. Impaired driving is a serious offense, one that can often have a lethal effect. Spending some hours helping the community is a small price to pay for a new start.