When someone is charged with a DUI in Washington State a Deferred Prosecution is one of several potential resolutions. After a complete investigation of the evidence and after negotiations with the prosecuting attorney your attorney should present all options for resolving your DUI charge. Any DUI that doesn’t get dismissed through suppression motions will eventually come down to one of three options: accepting a negotiated resolution, going to trial or asking the judge to grant a Deferred Prosecution.
A Deferred Prosecution is a once in a lifetime resolution on a DUI charge. It requires five years of probation including two years of alcohol, drug or mental health treatment followed by three more years of probation. In addition to formal alcohol/drug treatment there is also a requirement for two “self-help” or AA classes per week for the first two years. A mental health Deferred Prosecution is more flexible so treatment can be customized to the specific needs of the individual. During the entire five years you must remain free from alcohol and non-prescribed drugs.
Entering a Deferred Prosecution in court avoids a DUI conviction during the 5 year probation period so the judge will not impose the mandatory minimum jail or electronic home monitoring sanctions that are required after a DUI conviction. A Deferred Prosecution may avoid a suspension/revocation of your driver’s license depending on the facts of the case. Also the Ignition Interlock Device is required on Deferred Prosecution for at least one year.
The DUI Deferred Prosecution program is a lot like betting on yourself. If you complete all the requirements and make it the full 5 years, then the judge will dismiss the DUI charge. That’s the benefit to you. The benefit to the prosecutor is that if you fail to complete the Deferred Prosecution, then the judge will simply read the police report to see if there’s enough evidence to find you guilty. You waive your right to a trial by jury and to confront the investigating officers.
A Deferred Prosecution can be a great benefit to someone accused of DUI by helping them overcome alcohol or drug addiction or getting someone with mental health problems the resources they need. One study found those who resolved their charge with a Deferred Prosecution were less likely to commit a new DUI in the future. In order to determine whether asking the judge for a Deferred Prosecution on your Washington DUI charge is the right option, it is essential you consult with an experienced DUI attorney.