What You Need to Know about Deferred Prosecution Programs for your Tacoma DUI

You’re in what is probably the most stressful period of your life. You’ve been charged with DUI. This is perhaps not the first time. You know you’re facing potential jail time, steep fines, license suspension, high cost insurance and an ignition interlock device. You know any or all of these may happen and that’s not counting the damage this does to your job, your family and future applications for employment or loans. This is devastating.

You may be thinking, “Can’t I just make this DUI go away? Didn’t I hear that Washington has a way I can just get this DUI dismissed?” Or, you may be thinking, “I have a problem. That’s why the DUI happened. I need treatment not jail.” If you’re asking the first questions you’re thinking of the deferred prosecution program. But, it sounds like you may need more information – a deferred prosecution has a lot to it and is not to be entered lightly. If you’re having the thoughts in the second example it is possible that deferred prosecution may be right for you because that’s what it was designed for. In both cases, you will want to talk to a DUI defense attorney to discuss deferred prosecution with you and compassionately counsel you as to your best course of action.

Deferred prosecution was set in place to help the truly alcoholic, drug addicted or mentally ill who are also truly seeking treatment for their problem. Deferred prosecution is a program that, when applied for and granted, does allow a person to keep their license, not go to jail, not pay fines (though you will still need to pay the costs of probation) and avoid administrative suspension of their license. Plus, after the program is finished the DUI is dismissed on your record.  Caveat, it is seen as a prior conviction in the case of any later DUI charges. You may be thinking, “This is a no brainer! What do I need the advice of DUI defense attorney for? Where do I sign up?” Yes, the advantages are clear but please be aware that signing up for a deferred prosecution is a huge commitment with many responsibilities and consequences.

First, remember that deferred prosecution is designed with the idea to treat those with alcoholism, drug addiction or mental illness. So, to be approved for the program you would need to be assessed by a treatment agency who would then declare you either an alcoholic, a drug addict or mentally ill.  You would need to be willing to have that on record. You would also need to give up your right to trial, your right to testify and your right to have the evidence examined and witnesses cross examined. You would sign a waiver that states that the police report is sufficient to convict you beyond a reasonable doubt. What this potentially means to you is that if, for any reason, you fail to meet the deferred prosecution program’s requirements a judge will summarily sentence you and you may be facing a year or more in jail without even the benefit of a trial. That’s one reason you need the counsel of a Seattle Tacoma DUI defense attorney to make sure this is the right move for you. You will also need to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for at least a year. The cost of that installation will be your responsibility. Plus, you will be required to stay alcohol and drug free for the entire duration of the program which is five years. You also need to be aware that any associated court and treatment costs will be your responsibility. This can be several thousands of dollars – though many insurances cover the treatment costs.

Those are the immediate responsibilities. There are also long term responsibilities. Remember that the deferred prosecution lasts for five years.  The first two years require treatment.  It comes in three phases. First is the intensive phase which is exactly what it sounds like. This is either hospitalization or outpatient treatment of 3-4 hours a day 3-5 times a week for 4-6 weeks – it will include counseling, AA meetings (or another support group), and learning about lifestyle changes. Next is the follow-up phase which lasts about 2 years. During this period you will be required to attend 2 AA meetings a week and have weekly meetings with a counselor. Plus, you will be required to submit to random urinalysis or breath tests. Lastly is the monitoring phase. During this phase you will still attend the 2 weekly AA meetings but your counselor sessions are reduced to monthly.

So, yes, there are advantages. But as you can see it is a major commitment. If you truly believe you have a problem and want help this may be the right choice for you. You will want to discuss this option with your Seattle Tacoma DUI defense attorney. Please call Smith & White, PLLC – the first consultation is free.

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