California’s Proposition 36 allows nonviolent drug offenders to participate in treatment programs rather than go to jail. Eligible defendants plead guilty to the underlying drug charge, and are then placed on probation and ordered to complete an outpatient program. If they do so, and comply with the terms of probation, the drug case is ultimately dismissed. But eligibility for Prop. 36 is laced with restrictions, one of which pertains to DUI charges. A person charged in the same complaint with both a nonviolent drug offense and a DUI offense does not qualify.

The restriction stems from language in Prop. 36 itself that excludes “any defendant convicted, in the same case, of any misdemeanor not related to drugs or any other felony that is not a nonviolent drug possession offense.” The California Supreme Court has found “misdemeanor not related to drugs” charges to include DUI charges.

Suppose, for example, that a potential defendant gets pulled over for weaving (a typical reason for a DUI stop) and the cop finds a small amount of cocaine in his car. Normally, he would qualify for Prop. 36, but if he’s also charged with DUI he will not qualify for Prop. 36. This will be the case unless the prosecuting attorney drops the DUI, or the defendant goes to trial and wins on the DUI charge.

This “DUI exclusion” is unfortunate. DUI suspects, who also possess or are under the influence of drugs, probably need treatment as much as anyone, if not more so. Denying them the benefit of Prop. 36 defeats the policy goals and ultimately hurts everyone.

If you, or a loved one, are charged with a DUI, or a DUI and possession of drugs, it is important that you contact an experienced California DUI defense attorney who can provide assistance in protecting your rights. The experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can provide such assistance in your time of need. Please call us at (877) 466-5245.

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