Should I do Deferred Prosecution on my DUI?

Hi, I’m Roger Priest and I’m a local DUI attorney with Van Wa Legal PLLC in Vancouver, Washington and today I’m going to answer a question that I often receive from potential and current DUI clients of mine: what is deferred prosecution and should I do deferred prosecution? deferred prosecution is a program in Washington state that can allow you to get a DUI charge ultimately dismissed. However the program is not without its own trials and can take a lot of time energy and money before you achieve the ultimate benefit of having the charge dismissed.

Deferred prosecution is a program designed for people with a serious alcohol problem and in some instances mental health problem and it is designed to get people the treatment they need. The benefit for the person is that they ultimately have the potential reward of getting the charge dismissed. The benefit for the state is that it takes clients who may have and may be committing multiple DUIs or crimes and gets that person into the treatment that they so desperately need to help break the cycle of criminal behavior. Deferred prosecution requires for an alcohol or substance abuse problem two years of intensive treatment. That typically means that in the very beginning stages of that two years of treatment you will be going to treatment at least three times a week. Plus you may be required to do self-help groups like community service or alcoholics anonymous or some other type of program. So in the early stages of the program, all of your free time (most of it at least) will be consumed by the program. However the program is not as intensive as it goes on. As you successfully complete the early intensive stages of the program, your amount of treatment tends to scale back and such that by the second half of the program, the second year you’re going to treatment far, far less. If you are succeeding in that program at the end of the two-year treatment program you ultimately don’t have to do anything else for deferred prosecution except successfully complete a three-year waiting period in which you do not pick up any new charges.

Now ultimately deferred prosecution can kick you off. You can be kicked off of deferred prosecution I should say, for picking up any new criminal charge. But you are required to be kicked off of deferred prosecution if you pick up another DUI while on the program. Many times the courts tend to try to give a little bit of wiggle room for a mistake here or there in the program so that if you begin your recovery and your treatment but you get off to a rocky start and you have perhaps a single relapse, most judicial officers will allow you to stay on the program if you get re-engaged in treatment and keep working at it. However the program doesn’t give a thousand chances, so ultimately if you continue to mess up, you cannot expect to stay on the program and you will ultimately be kicked off of the program. Now what does that mean if you get kicked off of a deferred prosecution program? to get on the program you ultimately have to waive your right to go to trial, to call witnesses, to mount a defense, to essentially fight the charge. So if you don’t successfully complete the program and you get kicked out of the program, oftentimes you proceed basically directly to a conviction because at that point all the judge has to do is read the police reports and determine whether there’s a sufficient amount of evidence to convict you. And you’re not allowed to put forth a defense in that trial so ultimately you’ve tied your own hands behind your back. In addition to the treatment, deferred prosecution requires that you communicate with a probation officer and be monitored by a probation department and also have an ignition interlock device installed in your car. All of those things may sound like too much and in all many instances it can be deferred prosecution is not necessarily designed for the first time DUI offender. Because in the end a first time DUI conviction often carries far less treatment than the deferred prosecution program and in that instance some people may decide that simply taking the conviction doing their time doing the smaller amount of treatment and moving on with their life is what makes the most sense for them.

A deferred prosecution is not just for first-time offenders. It can be used on a second lifetime offense, a third lifetime offense, or even a fourth lifetime misdemeanor DUI charge gross misdemeanor DUI charge. So if you’re facing a case of DUI in which the mandatory minimum sentences are not days but months or where you may be looking at as much as a half a year sentence or nine month sentence, deferred prosecution is still available if you’ve never used the program before. So it can often be a godsend to someone with a serious alcohol problem who is looking at their third DUI case and losing their job. I have lots of clients who insist on using it on a first offense. Not always recommended but people can choose when to use it on a first offense, second offense, or third offense.

If you are facing a DUI and are interested in learning more about the deferred prosecution program or if you have other questions about your DUI, give us a call at Van Wa Legal. I’d be happy to discuss your case with you and see if there’s something I can do to help you out. Have a great day.