Not every motorist who drives while intoxicated is careless and selfish for placing the safety of others in serious peril. Some drivers may have an addiction to alcohol or drugs that requires immediate treatment. California law recognizes that there are circumstances where a motorist guilty of DUI may be able to enter a rehabilitation program and receive treatment instead of going to jail for DUI.

More than 8,000 adult DUI arrests are made in Riverside County a year. Of these, approximately 7,000 of those arrested are male and about 1,000 are female. Annually, the California Highway Patrol makes about 4,500 DUI arrests in Riverside County, and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department makes about 1,600 DUI arrests. While the great majority of those accused of DUI plead guilty, there are alternatives to receiving jail time as punishment for a DUI offense.

DUI diversion programs are a type of specialized rehab that serves as an alternative to jail time for drivers whose actions can be at least partially attributed to serious substance addiction. Organized DUI rehabilitation and treatment programs allow drivers to receive professional treatment for addiction from trained specialists where the focus is on providing help instead of punishment for addiction.

The goal is to help those with addiction problems get back on course while protecting both the defendant and the public from the dangers of driving while intoxicated. This translates to providing addicted persons with the necessary and proper care to return to their lives as healthy, substance-free members of society.

While every DUI diversion program is different, most conduct certain core procedures while diverting drivers from jail to treatment under a structured program. Participants must typically pay a fine, perform community service, attend DUI and/or substance abuse classes, and submit to randomly administered urine tests.

A “pretrial diversion” program is defined under § 1001.90 of the California Penal Code as temporarily or permanently suspending the prosecution of the accused. A pretrial diversion program is a form of probation or deferred adjudication.  The court postpones the court proceedings pending the defendant’s successful completion of the program.  If the defendant completes the program, the defendant is no longer subject to any penalties for the criminal offense.

These pretrial diversion programs may be used to treat military veterans suffering conditions that have resulted from their military service. They include substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, or mental health problems.

California does not allow first-time offenders with alcohol DUIs to avoid conviction by enrolling in a diversion program. However, first-time offenders with substance abuse issues other than alcohol may still be eligible. Anyone charged with an alcohol-related DUI charge or drug possession charge may be eligible to enter a diversion program for the possession charge but not the DUI charge.

John Patrick Dolan is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, the highest achievement awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys in the field of criminal law. Call today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.

DUI And Diversion