What is a Deferred Prosecution?
Persons charged with a DUI in Washington State do have the option of resolving their case by way of what is called a Deferred Prosecution (RCW 10.05 et al). A Deferred Prosecution (DP) is a program for those seeking treatment for one (or a combination) of three ailments (1) Alcoholism (2) Mental Health or (3) Drug Addiction. Essentially, a person may petition the court for a Deferred Prosecution and complete 2 years of either an alcohol, mental health, drug program (or combination of these) followed by 3 years of continued sobriety and no criminal law violations. The person must admit they have a problem (i.e., they are an alcoholic, suffer from drug addiction or have a diagnosed mental health issue) for which they need treatment and without treatment they are likely to re-offend. Some reasons which would qualify an individual to enter into a mental health deferred prosecution include: social anxiety disorder, social adjustment disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, etc.
Do I Have to Install an Ignition Interlock Device on a Deferred Prosecution?
A person who is granted a Deferred Prosecution for alcoholism must install an IID on any vehicle they drive for a minimum of 1 year and attend a minimum of 2 AAs per week for a minimum of 2 years (in addition to the 2 year intensive outpatient treatment program). Additionally, the petitioner must pay the court probation costs and the cost of treatment. It is a program that is expensive and available to an individual once in a lifetime. It is also strictly monitored by the court and probation for the entire 5 year period. If successful, the individual's case is dismissed after five years and no jail is imposed. A DP is a prior offense (RCW 46.61.5055) for sentencing purposes for any individual subsequently charged and convicted of a DUI within 7 years from the date of entry of the DP.
Even if an individual petitions the court for a Deferred Prosecution based upon Mental Health or Drug issues, they will be required to install an ignition interlock on any vehicle they drive if the original violation was due to an arrest for DUI (RCW 46.61.502) or Physical Control (RCW 46.61.504) pursuant to the Department of Licensing. This restriction is typically not imposed by the court on these types of DPs; however, the DOL considers these cases (originally charged as a DUI under 46.61.502 or Physcial Control under 46.61.504) to fall within the purview of 46.20.720 requiring an ignition interlock.
Is a Deferred Prosecution right for me and my case?
A DP is not for everyone, it is a tough road through treatment and any relapse may result in revocation of the underlying offense, meaning conviction on the underlying offense without a trial. A person admits they have committed the offense and have elected treatment instead of litigation when they petition the court for a DP.
If you are considering a DP on your DUI case, it is essential to speak with an experienced DUI attorney before petitioning the court as there are many circumstances which must be evaluated. Typically a DP is entered in a case wherein a person is facing significant jail time and, admittedly, has a problem with Alcoholism, Mental Health or Drug for which they require treatment, evidenced by a subsequent DUI arrest.
Call Nate Webb, your Seattle DUI Attorney, if you have questions about a Deferred Prosecution on a DUI charge. (425) 522-4200.