According to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, first-time offenders who are convicted of driving while under the influence are just as likely to repeat their offense as are those who are second or third offenders. In other words, all DUI offenders are at risk of recidivism. However, there is good news for Washington residents; Washingtonians have a lower overall DUI recidivism rate than the overall national average. Better yet, deferred prosecution programs have lessened the rate of repeat offenses as well. This underscores the need for skilled legal representation in order to help offenders obtain the help they need rather than life-altering convictions.
How Does Washington Compare to the Rest of the Country?
Nationally, one in three drivers who are convicted of a DUI will do it again. That is 33.3%. Yet, in Washington, the overall recidivism rate for DUI offenders is roughly 27.9% for those who are simply convicted of their crimes. This puts Washington about 5% lower than the national average.
What is Deferred Prosecution?
In Washington, DUI defendants have the unique opportunity to participate in court diversion programs, including deferred prosecution for alcohol-related offenders. These diversion programs, also known as “treatment courts,” permit offenders with alcoholism, drug addiction, or those with mental health issues to receive treatment instead of incarceration. Under Washington law, offenders who are approved for the program must meet very strict guidelines. The program allows offenders to avoid jail, save money on insurance, and avoid the long-term effects of a conviction. However, they must abstain from alcohol for two years while in the program.
What are the Benefits of Deferred Prosecution?
Among the benefits of the program, offenders avoid jail and save money on insurance. However, the benefits are far greater than just that. Consider these incentives:
- No jail time
- Your fine is waived
- Your offense is removed from your record upon completion
- You get to keep your license*
- You do not have to purchase high-risk insurance (SR-22)
* It is important to note that under Washington law, you will still lose your license if you refuse to submit to a BAC test (breathalyzer).
What is Required While in Deferred Prosecution?
Sounds great, right? Well, be prepared for a tough test of will power. The program can last up to five years. During that time, you must meet twice per week in a support group setting, such as AA. This must continue for at least two years, but can be longer. Second, you will be on probation and have to meet with a probation officer, continue paying court ordered fees, and must submit to an ignition interlock device for at least one year.
How Does one Qualify for Deferred Prosecution?
First, you must be determined to suffer from alcohol addiction. This decision is made by a state-approved agency. It is up to the agency to decide if your crime was a direct result of your addiction. There is, however, one final catch. You can only use this option once in your lifetime. However, recidivism rates are significantly lower for those who participate in these types of programs. DUI offenders who fully participate and complete the program repeat their offenses only about 22% of the time – nearly 7% less often than those who do not participate. Therefore, this is an option all first-time DUI offenders ought to strongly consider.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI in Spokane or the surrounding areas of eastern Washington, remember that the court may not readily offer such deferred prosecution programs. Without an attorney, you could very easily suffer a DUI conviction that affects the rest of your life. Contact attorney Russell West for a free consultation today, and find out if you qualify for deferred prosecution.