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My friend said I could just get a Deferred Sentence for my DUI. Can I?

Posted by Nathan Webb | Sep 04, 2014 | 0 Comments

Deferred Sentence v. Deferred Prosecution

A Deferred Prosecution is a treatment option for individuals charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense in Washington State.  Click to view the applicable statute RCW 10.05. This is different from a Deferred Sentence under RCW 3.66.067.

When a deferred sentence is imposed by the court, that is when an individual is either found guilty or enters a plea of guilty to a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor (other than DUI or Physical Control) and the judge defers the sentence, meaning there is a conviction for a period of no more than 2 years then it will be dismissed after the period of probation has run; however, you are subject to the conditions of the guilty finding in the interim (i.e., jail, fines, fees, probation, alcohol classes, etc.).

What a Deferred Prosecution involves is that the individual petitions the court to attend and complete a prescribed treatment program (2 year program for a Washington State DUI involving alcohol dependency) in lieu of challenging the allegation in a trial. The individual waives his or her right to challenge the evidence and instead opts to complete treatment for one of the following:

(1) alcoholism (2 year program),

(2) mental health (length of program depends upon treatment provider) or

(3) drug addiction (length of program depends upon treatment provider).

It is possible to combine treatment under two of the reasons above (i.e., the individual can elect to pursue a mental health deferred prosecution with some alcohol treatment if mental health is the underlying factor and reason for the offense).

If you were charged with an alcohol DUI you can utilize this treatment option in lieu of going to jail.  The same applies for other offenses as well.In the case of an alcohol dependent deferred prosecution for a DUI charge, if the individual successfully completes the two year program, then after three additional years (a total of 5 years from the date of entry by the court) of continued law abiding behavior, the charge will be dismissed.

There are numerous requirements and conditions to follow for those who elect to enter into a deferred prosecution.  For example, if you were arrested for DUI, you will be required to install an ignition interlock on any vehicle you drive for a minimum period of one year.  This requirements applies to all Deferred Prosecutions wherein the individual was arrested for DUI or Physical Control, regardless of the presence of alcohol (this is imposed by the DOL).

Additionally, in alcohol dependent cases, you will be required to pay probation costs, abstain completely from alcohol for the 5 year probationary period, attend two self-help meetings for the first two years (at a minimum), strictly comply with the treatment providers program and maintain law abiding behavior.

Now on the surface it may seem like a great opportunity to avoid any DUI conviction; however, this option is not recommended for everyone.

First, you must admit you have a problem with alcohol, drugs or have a mental health issue (i.e., you are an alcoholic, drug addict or suffer from mental illness) and that without treatment you are likely to re-offend.

Second, (at least in the case of an alcohol dependency program) the treatment program is an intensive outpatient program that lasts for two years.

Lastly, you will still have to be monitored by probation for 5 years and subject to random urinalysis tests. Additionally, you can only petition the court for a Deferred Prosecution once in your lifetime.

For drug cases and mental health cases, the treatment provider must outline a program and it must be accepted by the court.  Again, no matter which you choose, if you were arrested for a DUI or Physical Control charge you will be required to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive. See RCW 46.20.720.

Typically a Deferred Prosecution should only be considered when the subject truly has either an alcohol dependency problem, drug addiction problem or mental health issues which if not treated would lead to a likely re-offense AND the individual is facing significant jail time on this offense.

This means it is not normal to enter into a Deferred Prosecution on a first offense DUI charge.

Contact the Seattle DUI Pros today if you have been charged with a Washington State DUI and are considering a Deferred Prosecution. (425) 398-4323 or (844) DUI-GONE.

About the Author

Nathan Webb

Nathan "Nate" Webb has been repeatedly recognized by Washington Law and Politics Magazine as a Super Lawyer Rising Star, named one of Seattle's Top Attorneys by Seattle Met Magazine and is rated Superb (perfect 10 out of 10) by


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