In Washington State, deferred prosecution is a way to avoid criminal penalties and DOL license suspension for people whose addiction problems caused their DUI arrest. It is the state’s view that even though people are responsible for their own actions, addiction will cause addicts to consistently make the wrong choices. Through a deferred prosecution, an addict can treat their addiction, and in exchange avoid a DUI conviction. Successful completion of the deferred prosecution program gives someone many benefits that are not available, to a person found guilty of DUI. There is no jail sentence, and the Department of Licensing will not suspend your license. Additionally, a DUI conviction cannot be removed from your record and can prevent you from entering Canada. Financially, you can avoid the cost of court ordered high risk insurance.
The requirements for a deferred prosecution are straightforward but rigorous. You must have a significant addiction to alcohol or drugs and the DUI arrest had to have occurred as a result of the addiction. This is proved by having an evaluation done by a state certified substance abuse diagnosis and treatment provider. In order to enter the deferred prosecution program, you must agree that if you violate any of the program’s conditions, then the judge may make a finding of guilt or innocence on the DUI charge by reading the police reports. This means that you waive the right to trial, including the rights to call witnesses or contest the prosecution’s evidence. You must commit to the 2 year treatment program set up according to state guidelines. You must be able to show that you are complying with the treatment program. You are also required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous – or another substance abuse group’s – meetings for at least two years; although, the court can extend that requirement to up to five years.
Finally, you must commit to a 5 year probation period. Probation means that you are supervised by the local jurisdiction’s probation office, including regular meetings with your probation officer. Depending on the court, the probation restrictions can be reduced after you complete the treatment program. You must install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. You must bear all costs of the deferred prosecution including the costs of treatment and the cost of probation. Some treatment providers bill on a sliding scale, based on your income. Although the requirements are numerous, but a DUI deferred prosecution is a chance for an addict to turn their life around and avoid a conviction record.