Many folks often wonder when they – or a loved one – are facing a first time DUI if there is a ‘get out of jail free/ one bite at the apple’ scenario available in Washington State. Unfortunately, the answer is a big fat ‘no’. The only thing that comes even close to such an option is called a ;deferred prosecution’. In short, a deferred prosecution (known by attorneys simply as ‘DP’) may be available to those folks who are charged with a Washington State DUI/DWI or physical control, and thereafter are diagnosed as alcohol or drug dependent or are suffering from a diagnosed mental health issue. A ‘DP’ is not available for those who simply ‘made a mistake’ but aren’t alcohol/ drug dependent or don’t have a mental health issue.
Deferred prosecutions require strict compliance with a number of conditions for a period of at least five years, and if you successfully comply with these terms over the course of the period the charge against you is dismissed. A deferred prosecution can help you avoid serving jail time, losing your driver’s license, and paying SR-22 insurance.
Beyond needing to be alcohol/ drug dependent and/or having a diagnosed mental health issue, to be eligible for a deferred prosecution you must meet certain other legal requirements. Currently, these legal requirements include:
•You cannot have ever been granted a deferred prosecution before in your life. RCW 10.05.010.
•You must enroll in the recommended drug, alcohol, or mental health treatment program and successfully comply with all treatment recommendations. RCW 10.05.020.
There are a number of factors to consider carefully and discuss with an experienced Seattle DUI attorney before you make a decision to enter into a deferred prosecution. These include, but may not be limited to:
•You must give up the opportunity to fight your case and waive all your rights associated with proceeding to trial. If found out of compliance with the terms of the deferred prosecution, the judge simply reads the police reports in your case and finds you guilty of the original DUI charge.
•Even if successfully completed and dismissed, a deferred prosecution will be considered a “prior offense” if you were to receive another Washington DUI. This in turn can increase punitive sanctions.
•By entering into a deferred prosecution you make a legal record that you are chemically dependent (alcoholic or drug addicted) or are suffering from mental health problems which can have long term consequences.
•You must remain abstinent from alcohol and non-prescribed, mood altering substances during the 5 year probation period. You would be subject to random urinalysis tests through both your treatment agency and probation to confirm your abstinence. This condition may last the entire 5 years.
•You are responsible for the costs of treatment and probation. Typically, probation costs are over $2000-$3000. Courts will generally allow any probation costs to be paid over time with a monthly payment.
•Regardless of type or basis of the DP, you will be required by the Washington State Department of Licensing to only drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device for 1, 5, or 10 years. The length of time will depend upon the number of times the DOL has required you to install an IID in the past.
Chemical dependence (alcohol or drug) based deferred prosecutions require compliance with a two year state certified treatment plan that follows a strict protocol defined by RCW 10.05.150. – Total abstinence from alcohol and all other non-prescribed, mind-altering drugs; attendance at a minimum of 2 self help recovery support group meetings per week; completion of a three phase treatment program (Phase 1: intensive outpatient treatment consisting of a minimum of seventy-two hours of treatment in a maximum of twelve weeks. Phase 2: not less than weekly approved outpatient counseling, group or individual, for a minimum of six months following the intensive phase of treatment. Phase 3: not less than monthly outpatient contact, group or individual, for the remainder of the two-year deferred prosecution period.)
If you or a loved one is accused of DUI, you should immediately consult with a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer before making any decisions about how to proceed on the case. A DP may best the best option, and then again it may not. Only a qualified and respected Seattle DUI lawyer can help make that decision. We have said it before and will say it again, Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart and consult with a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for an alcohol and/or drug related DUI in Washington State.