Drug Diversion and DUI

Drug diversion is available to defendants who have been charged with drug possession when it can be shown that they have no prior drug possession convictions, no prior convictions for violence, no prior drug diversion within five years and no evidence of other non qualifying drug charges committed at the same time as the present offense.

Drug diversion allows the defendant to complete an educational program to have the charges dismissed, normally after eighteen months, so long as no further offenses are committed.

Drug diversion is not available for DUI charges. In addition, many prosecutors oppose drug diversion for minor possession charges where a DUI is charged at the same time, because a DUI is a non qualifying drug charge. However, this should not be a problem where the DUI is based on alcohol only, and there is no evidence of driving under the influence of drugs.

As a matter of public policy, I do not understand the logic of denying diversion for first time DUI offenders so long as there is no aggravating factor such as an accident with personal injuries. Alcohol is no different from other drugs in terms of the need for treatment and education for those who may have a problem. Diversion gives an incentive to first offenders to overcome the problem in order to earn a dismissal. This would divert a number of people from the criminal justice system who probably shouldn't be treated as criminals. Ofcourse, if any politician advocated this, it would be political suicide, so don't hold your breath. On the contrary, all politicians advocate stiffer penalties for DUI charges, not more lenient ones.

If you have been arrested for DUI and the police have also found drugs in your possession, please contact  Los Angeles and Orange County DUI defense lawyers, Gold & Witham for a free case evaluation.

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