You can find many volunteer opportunities on the Internet at VolunteerMatch, Greater DC Cares, Network for Good, Idealist, Single Volunteers, United Way, and Hands on Network. In Montgomery County, an excellent source is the volunteer link on the menu for Montgomery County Government. Medical based community service is very helpful in showing the court that you already have repaid your debt to society, because judges respect the effort it takes to perform those hours where you or a possible victim may have ended up as a result of your behavior. Check hospitals, hospices, old age homes and similar organizations.

When you have selected a program, speak to the community service director, explain your circumstances, and make sure they know you’ll need a letter on official letterhead for your court date. The letter must state what your duties were, how many hours you performed and any other positive information they can provide. The letter should be addressed to me.

Generally, 20-30 hours of service begins to show the court that you are the type of person who helps, rather than harms, people. The goal is to make it difficult for the court to jump to the conclusion that you are a “taker” rather than a “giver.” Once the court sees you as a “giver,” the court begins to see you as less of a risk, and therefore less likely to need a harsher sentence to prevent a future episode of driving under the influence.

Please note that volunteer organizations may only be able to give you 2-3 hours per week. Therefore, an early start as a volunteer makes it more likely that you will have 20-30 or more hours at the time of sentencing.