What is a DUI Deferred Prosecution?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 February 2020
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DUI deferred prosecution is an alternative to jail time or other penalties for someone who has been caught driving under the influence of alcohol. The details of a deferred DUI prosecution may vary, depending on the jurisdiction, but typically involve an extended period of probation and an agreement to meet the requirements set by the court, such as taking alcoholism classes and having a device installed on one’s car that prevents drunk driving. If a person meets all of the requirements the court sets for DUI deferred prosecution, he may avoid the license suspension, fines, and jail time a judge might normally impose. If he breaks the terms of the DUI deferred prosecution, however, a judge may apply the typical penalties allowed for the DUI offense.

In many jurisdictions, a DUI deferred prosecution is an option for individuals who have been charged with a DUI. Instead of accepting whatever sentence and penalties a judge decides to set, a defendant may agree to a DUI deferred prosecution. This usually means that the defendant won’t face any of the typical penalties, such as jail time and the suspension of his driver’s license. Instead, he may have to submit to a few years of probation, alcoholism classes, workshops through which a defendant learns about victims of drunk driving accidents, and other jurisdiction-specific requirements.


Some jurisdictions reserve the DUI deferred prosecution option for individuals who are alcoholics. This means a person who drives while drunk, even multiple times, may not be eligible unless he is an alcoholic. Such jurisdictions also require defendants to be evaluated by professionals who are skilled at identifying alcoholism. Once the defendant is identified as an alcoholic, he may be required to take alcoholism classes, at his own expense, for a significant period of time. For example, a defendant is required to take them for two years in some jurisdictions.

Ignition interlock device requirements are often included as part of DUI deferred prosecution as well. When this device is installed on a car, the driver has to breathe into it before he can start his car. If the defendant’s blood alcohol levels are too high for safe driving, the car will not start. Most DUI deferred prosecution orders require defendants to have these devices installed on any car they will drive, typically at their own expense.

A deferred DUI usually provides a person with a second chance. If he meets the requirements of the court and stays out of trouble, he does not have to face the usual penalties for driving under the influence. If he does not meet the requirements set by the order, however, he may lose this second chance and face the full penalties allowed by law.


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