Deferred Prosecution

Deferred prosecution is an alternative to fighting a DUI charge. It can help you get treatment for alcohol issues and avoid criminal prosecution for drunk driving.

The deferred prosecution law (RCW 10.05) allows persons charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor (DUI is a gross misdemeanor) to enter treatment for alcoholism, drug addiction or mental problems instead of being prosecuted for the underlying charge. While deferred prosecutions are not limited to DUI and other alcohol-related charges, they are used most frequently for these offenses.

To learn more about deferred prosecution and your options after a DUI arrest, contact attorney John F. Segelbaum, who has extensive DUI defense experience. He provides skilled and aggressive representation to clients throughout King County and Snohomish County, including the communities of Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Bothell, among others.

Is Deferred Prosecution Right for You?

With a deferred prosecution, there is no trial. There is no conviction, so you don't go to jail and you don't lose your license (unless you refused the breath test). There is no fine, but you do have to pay probation fees, since the probation department will monitor your progress. You have to have an ignition interlock device installed in vehicles you drive for at least two years (excluding employer-owned vehicles). In addition to the alcohol treatment, you must attend at least two AA meetings each week, during the two-year treatment phase of your deferred prosecution.

When you enter a deferred prosecution, you give up your right to a jury trial and your right to contest the evidence against you in the event that the deferred prosecution is revoked. If you commit a similar offense while on a deferred prosecution, the deferred prosecution is revoked. If you violate the other terms of the deferred prosecution, it will probably be revoked. If the deferred prosecution is revoked, the judge will simply read the police reports and find you guilty of the underlying charge(s). You will then be sentenced.

The Department of Licensing will not suspend or revoke your license if you are granted a deferred prosecution, unless you refused the breath test. You can ask the department to not suspend your license under the implied consent law while you are preparing to present the court with your petition for a deferred prosecution, unless you refused the test.

Deferred Prosecution: The Process

Here's how deferred prosecution works in the state of Washington:

  1. You plead not guilty at the arraignment, and you maintain your plea of not guilty throughout the deferred prosecution. Prior to trial, you must obtain an evaluation from a state-approved alcoholism treatment provider, and the evaluation must conclude that you have a problem with alcoholism, that you need treatment and that you are a suitable candidate for treatment.
  2. You then file a deferred prosecution petition with the court, requesting that you be allowed to complete treatment instead of being prosecuted for the DUI charge. You must admit that you are an alcoholic, and you must agree that there is sufficient evidence to convict you of DUI.
  3. If that court approves your request for a deferred prosecution, the case is continued for five years. You must successfully complete two years of treatment, followed by three years of staying out of trouble. At the end of five years, the DUI charge will be dismissed.

Washington Deferred Prosecution Limits

You can only have one deferred prosecution in a lifetime on a charge of DUI. If you successfully complete a deferred prosecution, the charge is not erased from your record — your driving record will show you were charged with DUI, entered a deferred prosecution, and the charge was dismissed. While a deferred prosecution does not result in a conviction, it is considered a prior offense, which will increase penalties on a subsequent DUI, even after the charge is dismissed.

Speak With a Lawyer About Your DUI Options

There are things you need to do early on in the process to protect your license, even if you do petition for a deferred prosecution. Call John F. Segelbaum, Attorney at Law, to learn if deferred prosecution is a viable option for you: 425-361-0865.