Those arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) often wish they could just forget the whole thing ever happened. Many would like to go back and make better decisions if given the choice. Unfortunately, the penalties for DUI can be extremely tough, even if it's your first offense. If you are lucky and have a good DUI defense lawyer, however, there is a chance you can make the DUI disappear. Read on to find out more about pretrial diversion programs and what's in it for you.

What Is Being Diverted?

Diversion programs aim to keep the jails and prisons empty and probation offices and the courts less burdened. With a DUI diversion program, successful participants may not only experience lesser punishment but may also qualify to have their charges dropped. You must, however, successfully complete every aspect of the prescribed program or you will end up back where you started: facing harsh punishment and a permanent record of that bad choice you made when you drove drunk.

Nipping Problems in the Bud

The word diversion here has a double meaning since many of the DUI diversion programs also aim to help those who have a drinking problem to divert from that path and make better decisions in the future. Not everyone that gets charged with DUI is a problem drinker, but most programs seek to identify and treat those who exhibit the characteristics of alcohol dependency before things get any worse.

Pretrial Diversion Programs

Each state and area may have its own pretrial diversion programs and there are few national guidelines. Most programs require that the offender comply with a long list of rules while they are undergoing the program, and they all require the offender to complete certain actions. Some of those rules and actions commonly are:

  • Counseling sessions
  • Classes to educate offenders about alcohol abuse
  • Impact training that often involves lectures from victims of drunk drivers
  • Fees charged for each component of the program
  • Inpatient drug treatment or attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings on a regular basis
  • Random drug and alcohol tests
  • Community service hours

Being Accepted

Not everyone can be accepted into diversion programs, as there is often only so much space available. In addition, the offender has to be interested and motivated to perform the considerable list of tasks. When programs are offered, offenders may need to take assertive actions to be considered for inclusion. Speak to your criminal defense lawyer about diversion programs in your area and do so before you agree to a plea bargain that has you pleading guilty to DUI.