Back in June, legendary golfer Tiger Woods was arrested for operating under the influence (OUI) in Florida. As we detailed in our blog back then, he'd been found asleep in his car on the side of the road, was disoriented when police apprehended him, and seemed impaired, despite blowing a 0.00% on a breathalyzer. He was arrested and charged for OUI as it came out that he was taking several medications for his back pain, which led to an unexpected reaction.
Now, Woods has entered into a diversion program in Florida as a part of a plea deal.
OUI Diversion Programs
A diversion program is a way for OUI offenders – often first time offenders who otherwise have a clean criminal record – to avoid the penalties that come with an OUI conviction that often decimate their driving privileges. Instead, OUI defendants plead to a lesser charge, typically reckless driving, and agree to complete the numerous requirements of the diversion program, which often include alcohol or drug classes, community service, and paying fines. Typically, if an OUI defendant takes a diversion program but then fails to complete the requirements, the lower charge disappears, the OUI charge comes back, and the defendant has to plead guilty to it.
However, not all states have a diversion program, and each state's program is slightly different.
The diversion program that Woods entered into in Florida involves:
- A guilty plea to one charge of reckless driving,
- One year of probation,
- 50 hours of community service,
- A $250 fine, plus court costs, and
- Classes at an OUI school, as well as a workshop where OUI victims share their stories.
Maine's Diversion Program
Maine does not have an OUI diversion program that is remotely similar to Florida's. Instead, Maine only has a pretrial service program, run by a nonprofit organization that aims to supervise OUI suspects between their release on bail and their trial.
This organization offers a contract, which is often used as a condition of your bail after an OUI arrest, that requires you to attend regular meetings and comply with mandatory and random drug testing. Unlike in Florida, it's not a part of a guilty plea, so successfully completing the pretrial program only makes you look good, which can help in trial or in the sentencing process.
There is, however, Maine occasionally employs a deferred disposition program that, while not reserved exclusively for OUI cases, are used at the prosecutor's discretion in certain types of cases. A deferred disposition requires the client to plead guilty to the crime as charged. However, the client is not convicted of the crime unless the judge also imposes a sentence for that crime. In the case of a deferred disposition, the sentencing is deferred or continued for a period of time. If the client meets the requirements of the agreement, the charge(s) will be dismissed or reduced, based upon the terms of the agreement. If the client is unsuccessful, the client will be sentenced on the charge for which he or she pled guilty to previously.
Pros and Cons of Diversion Programs
In states that have them, diversion programs are a mixed bag for OUI suspects. They give you the chance to avoid an OUI conviction by accepting a lower charge and jumping through lots of administrative hoops, saving your ability to drive for years into the future. However, if you make a single slip up in the diversion program, you could find all of the work you've put into it thrown out. Worse, the OUI charge comes back and you will have already agreed to plead guilty to it.
Maine OUI-Defense Attorney William T. Bly
Getting arrested and charged for OUI is not a trivial matter. Having the best OUI-defense attorney you can find can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case. Call the law office of William T. Bly at (207) 571-8146 or contact him online.