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Is it Worth it to Defer Your DUI Prosecution?

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Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime in Washington. Alcohol and drugs can impair several functions that are needed to drive safely. People who get behind the wheel while intoxicated can face serious consequences, including jail time, fines, and administrative penalties.

If you are facing a DUI charge in Washington state, you may have heard about deferred prosecution. This option can help you avoid trial as long as you comply with certain requirements. There are numerous advantages and disadvantages associated with deferred prosecution, so it is important to consult with a lawyer about your options.

What Is Deferred Prosecution in Washington State?

Deferred prosecution is a legally binding contract between the defendant and the prosecution bringing the charges. When you accept a deferred prosecution, the state will dismiss the charges against you as long as you comply with certain legal requirements. 

For example, if you accept a deferred prosecution for a DUI, you will need to attend mental health or substance abuse treatment for two years. For the next two years, you will need to attend at least two Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous sessions per week for at least two years. If you fail to comply with these requirements, the court will find you guilty of the original crime.

Advantages of Deferred Prosecution for a DUI

There are several advantages of choosing deferred prosecution for a DUI charge. For example, you can avoid jail time or a potentially longer sentence if your case goes to trial. You can save the time and money associated with a trial. The court will dismiss your case after five years, as long as you meet the requirements, and you will not be convicted of the crime.

Disadvantages of Washington State’s Deferred Prosecution

Despite the advantages of deferred prosecution, it is not right for everyone. There are some disadvantages when requesting this contract, such as the following:

  • By accepting a deferred prosecution, you waive your right to a trial where the jury may have found you innocent.
  • You are only allowed to use a deferred prosecution once in your lifetime for a DUI case.
  • When you petition for deferred prosecution, you legally admit that you have an alcohol or drug addiction or a mental health disorder.
  • You will need to pay for the cost of probation and the treatment programs that the court requires you to attend.
  • You will not be allowed to drink alcohol or take non-prescribed drugs for five years and need to take random drug tests.
  • If you receive another DUI, the court will consider the deferred prosecution a prior offense and you could face more severe penalties.

Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney After a DUI Arrest

Being arrested for a DUI can be a scary experience. The consequences can have a significant impact on your life and navigating the criminal justice process can be confusing. If you are facing DUI charges, you need a Tacoma criminal defense attorney on your side who can protect your rights and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

After your arrest, do not say anything to the police. Anything that you say could be used against you in court. Comply with their orders and request to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Your Tacoma DUI lawyer will then meet with you to evaluate your case and strategize your next steps.

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