DUI stands for “driving under the influence” (commonly called “drunk driving”), which is a crime in every state. It occurs when someone is pulled over by a police officer and is found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over the legal limit. Some states statutes vary on the legal limit of alcohol content in one’s blood, but it generally ranges from .08% to .10%.

What is DUI Diversion?

In some jurisdictions, first-time DUI offenders or less serious DUI offenses can be eligible for a DUI diversion program. DUI Diversion requires DUI offenders to complete DUI classes, undergo alcohol treatment, submit to random urine tests, and complete mandated community service.

In exchange, the DUI charges are dropped. This means that the DUI offender avoids criminal charges. DUI diversion programs are offered under the rationale that “everyone makes mistakes”, and less serious offenders can have the DUI expunged from their record.

How Do DUI Diversion Programs Work?

DUI diversions may differ based on your jurisdiction. Generally, diversion programs require the court impose a suspended sentence on the defendant, which requires the following:

  • Defendant Must Plead Guilty: The defendant must plead guilty in order to take advantage of a diversion program. However, the sentence is suspended for a specific period of time to allow the defendant to complete the program.
  • Defendant Agrees to Diversion Program: After a guilty plea is entered, the prosecutor and defendant can enter an agreement for the defendant to comply with the diversion program. This typically includes mandatory community service, paying fines, a commitment not to drink and drive, or any combination of the above.

In the event that the defendant complies with the requirements, his DUI charges are dropped and they do not go on his criminal record. If the defendant fails to meet the standards to drop his DUI charges, the court can impose the original sentence on the defendant.

Who is Eligible for DUI Diversion?

The eligibility varies by state. As mentioned above, typically defendants who are first-time offenders or those who commit less serious offenses are eligible for DUI diversion. Nevertheless, eligibility requirements for the diversion program usually require the following of the defendant:

  • You do not have any current DUI charges (besides the present charge).
  • You don’t have any previous DUI convictions within a specified period of time. This can be anywhere from 10 – 15 years depending on the requirements of the state where you reside.
  • You have not participated in a similar drug or alcohol court-ordered treatment program within a specific period of time (anywhere from 10-15 years depending on your state).
  • You have not been convicted or have any pending charges of serious crimes such as murder, manslaughter, vehicular assault, etc.
  • You did not cause death or serious bodily injury to a victim while driving under the influence.

Some jurisdictions disqualify a defendant from participating in a diversion program if they have previously participated in a DUI diversion program as a juvenile.

Do I Need an Attorney to Assist Me 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/DWI 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.