July 6, 2022 By Matthew Wallin

What Are Drug Diversion Programs? 

In criminal law, a diversion is an alternative to criminal prosecution and incarceration, allowing first-time, low-level offenders a chance to participate in a rehabilitation program and subsequently have their charges dismissed. Drug diversion, specifically, offers non-violent drug offenders to get addiction treatment and education instead of jail time. California Penal Code Section 1000 details the requirements that one must meet in order to qualify for drug diversion: 

  • Within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense, the defendant has not been convicted for any offense involving controlled substances other than those listed in PC Section 1000. In general, this section covers charges for simple possession of drugs. 
  • The offense charged did not involve violence or threatened violence. 
  • There is no evidence of a contemporaneous violation relating to narcotics or restricted dangerous drugs. 
  • The defendant has no prior felony conviction within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense. 

Do DUIs Qualify for Drug Diversion? 

Under California law, most misdemeanors are eligible for diversion. This generally includes first-time DUIs, but this is at the discretion of the judge assigned to your case. Even for first-time offenders, the judge will still consider the specific circumstances of your case before deciding whether diversion is appropriate for you. Each judge may handle DUI cases differently, with some being more strict about offenses involving drugs or alcohol. 

If the judge determines that you qualify for a drug diversion program, you must sign away your right to a speedy trial, as your case will continue for the time it takes for you to complete the program. The program will impose certain terms and conditions determined by the judge and can last up to two years. Essentially, it provides offenders a chance at rehabilitation, treatment, education, and support in order to prevent them from re-offending. Some common requirements include drug or alcohol treatment, counseling, or meeting participation. You may also be ordered to pay restitution to a victim if you damaged property while driving under the influence. 

If you fail to complete the requirements for diversion, the prosecutor will then reinstate the DUI charge based on your previous admission of guilt. In addition, although drug diversion is usually an option for first-time DUIs, diversion may not be available for a second or subsequent DUI. As such, it is important to complete your diversion program the first time around and avoid making the same mistake. 

Benefits of Drug Diversion Programs 

While most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, they can still carry serious repercussions. A DUI conviction can result in hefty fines, jail time, and loss of your driving privileges. Furthermore, any criminal record can potentially affect your insurance, employment, and relationships. The prime benefit of completing a DUI diversion program is that you can keep a misdemeanor DUI conviction off your record altogether. Once you successfully complete all the requirements set by the court, your DUI charges will be dismissed and your file will be sealed, as if the arrest never happened. Moreover, if you are ever arrested for another DUI, it will be treated as your first DUI rather than a second. The prior DUI that was dismissed under the diversion program may not be considered a priorable offense. This greatly reduces the penalties you may face for re-offending. All in all, if you are granted the opportunity to participate in a drug diversion program as an alternative to criminal prosecution, it would greatly benefit you to do so. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

Are you eligible for drug diversion for a DUI? For more information or help with your case, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in a wide range of DUI cases, and we have the skills and resources to secure the best outcome for you. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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