The penalties that come with a DUI conviction can be harsh, even for first-time offenders.
With a conviction for DUI, a person could spend up to one year in jail, lose his or her driving privileges, and be ordered to pay fines that could amount to thousands of dollars.
However, many states show leniency toward first-time offenders, especially those who are only facing misdemeanor DUI charges. In Wisconsin, for example, first-time DWI offenders do not face jail time unless they were caught driving with a minor passenger or get involved in an accident that causes injury or death. In Oklahoma, many first time DUI offenders that are successful in completing a treatment program or progress towards sobriety prior to court will receive positive outcomes in their DUI case.
For many states, including Oklahoma, special programs that emphasize DUI online classes, DUI education and rehabilitation are the more common consequence for first offenders. Oklahoma has an emphasis on Drug and Alcohol Evaluations and following the recommendations of these evaluations in DUI offenses.
In effect, these programs give first-time offenders an opportunity to be spared of the consequences of their drunk driving.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these programs and see how they work.
DUI Diversion Programs
With the help of an experienced DUI attorney, a person accused of driving under the influence can work out a deal with the prosecutor.
The deal usually has the offender admit to the DUI charge and sign up for what is called a DUI diversion program. Upon the offender’s completion of all of the program’s requirements, the prosecutor will then work to have the court dismiss the charge.
Completing a diversion program is in the offender’s best interest because failure to do so means the DUI charge’s reinstatement, which will be based on the admission of guilt he or she made earlier to qualify for the diversion program.
Who Are Eligible for DUI Diversion Programs?
An admission of guilt is a prerequisite for entry into a DUI diversion program, but it’s not enough. To be eligible for one, the DUI must also have no:
- Prior DUI convictions
- Previous diversion program participation
- Pending criminal charges
- Extensive criminal history
Pros & Cons of Diversion Programs
The most distinct advantage of completing a DUI diversion program is the second chance it offers offenders through the resulting dismissal of their DUI charge.
Because the DUI charge has been dropped, the offender won’t have a criminal record, which is an enormous relief as it would have haunted them as they seek education and employment opportunities.
The cost of diversion programs may be a disadvantage for offenders. After all, diversion programs require offenders to pay fines and fees that could amount to a thousand dollars.
Offenders will also have to complete not only the required alcohol and drug evaluation but also any recommended DUI treatment. If they don’t, they have to be ready to face the court again and be meted jail time, fines, and license revocation this time around.
Not all states have DUI diversion programs, though. Some states, like Wisconsin, offer diversion but only to third or fourth offenders.
DUI First-Offender Programs
Some states that do not offer diversion do have something similar called first-offender programs.
As its name indicates, only first-time drunk drivers are eligible for the program. If your DUI case has aggravating circumstances such as extremely high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels, injuries, property damage, and the presence of minors in the car, you cannot be admitted into a first-offender program.
What to Expect from DUI First-Offender Programs
A DUI first-offender program focuses on preventing repeat offenses through alcohol abuse treatment and imposing certain restrictions on offenders.
Other things that you may expect to follow within a DUI first-offender program include:
- Completion of substance abuse education courses, also known as DUI school
- Alcohol and drug testing
- Abstention from alcohol and drugs
- Group & individual counseling sessions
- Installation of ignition interlock device (IID) if issued a restricted driver’s license
The One Big Downside of First-Offender Programs
As with a diversion program, completing a first-offender program will help you avoid jail time and other penalties. Conversely, failure to complete also means the imposition of standard DUI penalties by the court.
It’s one big downside, however, is that completion doesn’t mean expungement of the conviction. Your DUI offense will still be on record, which could make finding a job or getting admitted into certain educational institutions more challenging.
For all their benefits and downsides, these programs remain a viable opportunity for first-time DUI offenders to address any alcohol issues they might have and learn enough about the dangers of drunk driving so they won’t do it again.
Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma DUI Defense Attorneys
Experience matters when you are arrested for driving under the influence or while intoxicated. Many consequences can come from a poor outcome in a DUI or APC case. It is important to know the Oklahoma defense lawyer you hire is dedicated to your cause and versed in all aspects of DUI and DWI law in Oklahoma. Cannon & Associates is dedicated to FIERCE ADVOCACY for DUI defendants and will fight for you. Contact Cannon & Associates for answers to your questions in your DUI defense in Oklahoma. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.