For many people, probation genuinely is a second chance.
For first offenders, with no drug dependency issues, who simply committed a minor violation of the law, it can be a good thing.
If you are addicted to pills, meth, heroin, or are a lifetime user of weed, it can be a trap, a slippery slope that will lead you back into the jail. If you have an addiction, drug Court is a far better option. All the good intentions in the world will not save you if you have an addiction to Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Percocet or some other Opiate, you need professional help.
If you got a DUI, probation is almost a certainty. Unless you win the case, you are going to get probation and sometimes jail. If you have a suspended license, and you are on probation, do not drive until you get that situation straightened out. If you get caught driving on a suspended license while you are on probation for DUI, you have a huge problem. Our office handles a lot of probation violation hearings.
A violation has to be willful and substantial, not just a minor technical accident. How your violation is handled depends a lot on your probation officer. Some are real hard cases and will violate you for almost anything. Some have a heart and compassion and will let it slide. It is critical to have a good relationship with your probation officer. Your life, and your fate, are in their hands. They can recommend reinstatement or recommend jail and staying on their good side is important. If you have a probation violation coming, I strongly recommend hiring a private lawyer to get on the front end of the problem. Do not wait until you are picked up and sitting in the County Jail.