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DUI Diversion

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What Is DUI Diversion?

DUI Diversion is a specific type of diversionary program available for some person charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence of drugs or alcohol). In general, a pre-trial diversionary program allows the offender to avoid criminal charges and a criminal record. Instead of the normal penalties for DUI, the offender will be allowed to complete a rehabilitative program, often lasting up to two years.

Most DUI diversion programs involve rehabilitation or educational programs focusing on alcohol abuse awareness. DUI diversion can also involve other requirements like community service, letters of apology to victims, blood alcohol monitoring, and the payment of fees.  The aim of a DUI diversion program is to correct the defendant’s criminal conduct so that they will not repeat the DUI offense in the future.

Who Is Eligible for DUI Diversion Programs?

Only certain DUI offenders are eligible for DUI diversion (usually first-time offenders). The eligibility requirements for DUI diversion programs will of course vary by state, since each state has different DUI laws. 

In general, eligibility requirements for DUI diversion will usually require that the defendant:

  • Doesn’t have any current DUI charges besides the present charges
  • Did not have any DUI convictions prior to the present charge (sometimes up to 10 years before the present case)
  • Was not enrolled in a DUI diversion program at the time of the arrest, (and sometimes, not enrolled up to 10 years before)
  • Doesn’t have any previous convictions for felonies or vehicular assault
  • Did not cause death or serious bodily injury to the plaintiff

Also, some jurisdictions don’t allow the defendant to participate in DUI diversion if they had previously been adjudicated as a youthful offender in the past five years. If the DUI occurred while the defendant’s license was expired or suspended, it may also disqualify them from diversion.

DUI Diversion programs usually involve an enrollment fee, though this can sometimes be waived with proof of hardship.

What If I Don’t Complete the DUI Diversion Program?

DUI diversion programs usually last up to two years.  If at any point during those two years the person doesn’t comply with program requirements, they may be removed from the program. This can result in the re-imposition of the original sentence that was avoided through the diversion program (i.e., criminal fines, jail time, payments to victims, etc.).

For example, if the offender refuses to attend rehabilitation classes, or refuses to submit to blood alcohol monitoring, they will likely be disqualified from the diversion program. 

Thus, diversion is much like probation in a criminal case- the DUI offender must complete the entire diversion program in order to avoid a jail sentence and keep the charges off their record. The person participating in the diversion program may often be required to check in with a probationary officer who will oversee their progress.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with DUI Diversion?

Facing DUI charges can sometimes be intimidating.  If you need assistance with a DUI charge, you may wish to speak with a DUI lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can represent you in court and help determine if you are eligible for a DUI diversion program. A qualified attorney will also be able to assist you during the program to ensure that you complete all the program requirements.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 11-04-2013 04:46 PM PST

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