By WILLIAM FRANCIS
Diversion is a government-sponsored behavior modification program. It is administered by the probation department in cooperation with the court and private treatment providers.
If a person is charged with DUI as a first offense, and other conditions are met, the court and the district attorney generally will allow entry into a program known as "diversion." If the diversion program is completed successfully, the charge of DUI is dismissed.
Diversion is a last resort, not a first resort
A person charged with DUI should consider diversion as a last resort, not a first resort.
Diversion is an option that should be considered carefully. Anybody who is thinking about entering diversion should have the clear understanding that diversion is an option to be considered only when all other options have been exhausted.
When you go to court for the first time, remember: You have 30 days from the date of your first court appearance to decide if you want to enter diversion.
To get into diversion, first plead guilty or no contest to a crime
Oregon DUI law is more strict than other states, in many respects. For example, first-time DUI charges in California and Washington may be negotiated and settled with a plea to a lesser offense. In Oregon, the law does not permit a person charged with DUI to plead to a lesser charge. The only break available in Oregon for a first-time DUI is a program known as "diversion."
Diversion is a government-sponsored behavior modification program. It is administered by the probation department in cooperation with the courts and private treatment providers.
The worst problem with diversion is that, to take advantage of the opportunity to enter this program, a person has to plead guilty or no contest to a crime.
There are lots of conditions
Diversion is offered only if a defendant has had no prior DUIs in the past 15 years.
Diversion isn't easy. It's not cheap, either. And, what you do in diversion is very similar to what you have to do if you are convicted of DUI and sentenced to probation.
However, there are advantages to diversion that make it attractive to a lot of people:
(1) There is no possibility of jail (as long as the program requirements are completed), and
(2) There is no license suspension. (This does not affect any implied-consent suspension ordered by the DMV.)
A person won't lose the chance to enter diversion by asking a judge for time to talk with an attorney about the diversion option.
Judges are always be willing to schedule a second court appearance so that a person charged with DUI will have time to meet with an attorney and consider alternatives before accepting an offer to enter diversion.
Completing diversion will not remove a DUI from your criminal record
Completion of the diversion program will result in a dismissal of a DUI charge. However, diversion does not remove a DUI from a person's criminal record.
Many agencies of the federal government treat diversion like a conviction for a crime. So do other countries. If you enter diversion, you may not be allowed to enter other countries, including Canada.
There may be employment consequences if you have a professional license. Professional licensing agencies may initiate inquiries and investigations regarding DUIs that were resolved in a diversion agreement.
If a person entering diversion doesn't abide by the diversion agreement (for example, by drinking or getting arrested again for DUI), or doesn't complete the requirements of the diversion program, the court proceeds to sentencing on the guilty or no contest plea that is already entered.
If the diversion agreement is revoked, penalties are imposed, including jail, fines, and suspension of driving privileges.
Know What You're Getting Into
If you decide to take the deal and get into diversion, these are the requirements to enter and complete the diversion program:
(1) Plead to DUI.
(2) Pay the program fee ($490).
(3) Report to the Jackson County Community Justice office for an alcohol and drug evaluation.
(4) Pay $150 for the drug and alcohol evaluation.
(5) Enroll in a treatment program.
(6) Abstain completely from alcohol and all non-prescription drugs for the diversion period (one year).
(7) Install an ignition-interlock device.
DUI diversion is a one-year program. If all of the program requirements are successfully completed, the criminal charge is dismissed (although it remains a part of a life-long criminal record).
In a diversion, a person's criminal record will always show the arrest, plea, entry into diversion and, finally, the dismissal of the case. It is a public record.
Your best course of action is to see an attorney
Keep in mind that many lawyers who are not specialists in this area of the law (and many judges, too) will automatically tell you that you should enter diversion before they know the first thing about your case.
Before pleading guilty or no contest to DUI or any other crime, it's best to review the police reports and talk to a lawyer. You definitely should speak with an experienced DUI specialist before you agree to enter the diversion program.
You should plead NOT GUILTY at your first court appearance on a DUI.
At your first court appearance, the judge will set a new court date, about a month out.
You can use that time to get all of the discovery in your case, review it with an attorney, and make the decisions that are right for you.