Many states, including Maryland, have introduced DUI diversion programs that are available to first-time offenders. Proponents of such programs point to reduced recidivism among people who have completed the requirements. Many believe that it provides offenders with more motivation to avoid drinking and driving in the future.
What is a DUI diversion program?
DUI diversion programs, also known as first-time DUI programs and alcohol diversion programs, vary from state to state and even from county to county, but all share some core principles. An offender agrees to complete a program that often involves counseling, alcohol-related education and community service. Upon completion of the program, the DUI charges are dropped, and in many cases, the first-time offender can even have the DUI arrest expunged.
Who is eligible for DUI diversion?
Offenders must be age 18 or older; DUI cases involving juveniles are handled differently. Generally, eligibility is up to the judge hearing the cases. Counties often have set criteria, such as living in the county where the arrest occurred and having no prior criminal record. Although it’s not required, hiring an attorney with experience in DUI may be an asset in being viewed as eligible for a diversion program.
DUI diversion has proven good for communities because people who successfully complete these programs are far less likely to be a repeat offender than the general population. On an individual level, this option is beneficial because it keeps a conviction off your record and avoids fines and jail time.
There is often a substantial time commitment associated with participating in a DUI diversion program. For most offenders, this time investment is well worth it. However, if your attorney believes that there is another avenue to having your name cleared, then that may be a better option.
The right decision for you
If you have been arrested for a DUI, a diversion program is an appealing alternative to traditional penalties. However, it is still important to consult with a criminal law attorney and explore all of your options.