Alternatives to a DUI Conviction

The offense of driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime in Washington. It can lead to license suspension, court-ordered alcohol intervention, fines and penalties, and even jail time. The state has established several alternatives to convictions for DUI offenses, allowing defendants to avoid a criminal history that includes DUI. If the defendant meets certain conditions, the DUI charge may be dismissed. These options may involve a substantial commitment of a defendant’s time, as well as fees for court-ordered services, but they are without a doubt preferable to spending time in jail. With the help of an experienced Washington criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to take advantage of these programs in your case.

Deferred Prosecution

Washington’s Legislature created the deferred prosecution program in order to encourage people to seek treatment for drug or alcohol abuse and addiction. Deferred prosecution is only available to a defendant one time. Defendants who believe that their DUI arrest resulted from drug addiction, alcoholism, or mental health issues may petition the court to defer the prosecution of their case. If the court grants the petition, it will order the defendant to complete a course of intensive alcohol or drug dependence treatment, or a similar program appropriate to the defendant’s needs. The court may set other requirements, such as additional substance abuse programs, counseling, or payment of restitution to victims. A deferred prosecution plan lasts a minimum of five years, but a defendant is not eligible for dismissal of charges until three years after completion of the court-ordered treatment program. If the defendant fails to complete the court’s plan, it may revoke the deferral and commence formal prosecution for DUI.

Prosecutors’ Deferral/Diversion Program and Deferred Disposition

In cases where the state’s evidence might not support a conviction, but the defendant does not want to risk a trial, the prosecutor and court may ask the defendant to complete a substance abuse treatment program and other services in lieu of prosecuting the case. The court maintains supervision over the defendant while the defendant is completing services. If the defendant completes the required services, the court may reduce or dismiss the DUI charge.

DUI defendants in the juvenile court system may qualify for deferred disposition, which also allows dismissal of the DUI charge after completion of services and other conditions ordered by the court.

Dismissal of Charges

Upon successful completion of services and other requirements under a deferred prosecution or diversion plan, the court is authorized to dismiss the DUI charge. With a dismissal, the DUI will not appear in criminal background checks, although the arrest record may still be available. Washington law generally does not allow expungement of non-conviction records, such as arrests, in DUI cases.

If you have been charged with an alleged DUI offense, you need the assistance of an attorney with knowledge of Washington’s criminal legal system. Washington criminal defense attorney Timothy L. Healy has represented defendants charged with alleged DUI in Bellevue, King County, and elsewhere in Washington state for more than fifteen years, and has helped many of them avoid convictions through deferred prosecution, diversion, or even dismissal of charges. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact us today online or at (888) 312-3093.