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Deferred Prosecution (DP)

What you need to know

What is a DP?

A deferred prosecution is a court-approved treatment program that, if successfully completed, results in the dismissal of the underlying DUI charge.
You may only have one deferred prosecution in your lifetime. For this reason, a deferred prosecution is generally not the best way to handle a first offense DUI, which carries minimal jail time compared to a second or subsequent DUI.

Entry into a deferred prosecution keeps you out of jail; therefore, it is best “saved,” or to be used, when facing significant jail time on second or third DUI offense.

It also prevents the court from imposing a fine for the offense, allowing the court to impose only court costs and specific assessments required by law.

Deferred prosecution facts

How long is my license suspended?

Linda M. Callahan

If you took the breath test

If you took the breath test and are not accused of “refusing” the breath or blood test, your license suspension or revocation will be “stayed,” or put on hold.

Upon completion of the 5-year deferred prosecution, it will be rescinded. In the meantime, you will be granted a probationary license, provided you are otherwise not prohibited from driving for some other reason.

Ignition interlock

A deferred prosecution for DUI (whether alcohol or drug-related) does not avoid a requirement that the person drive only vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device.

How to qualify for a deferred prosecution
DUI Penalties in Washington State


You have not previously been placed on a deferred prosecution for a Title 46 or similar municipal ordinance violation.


You will have to obtain a specific type of assessment from a state-certified substance abuse disorder professional.


Your attorney will draft a petition for a deferred prosecution and review it with you before filed with the court along with your assessment.


You must waive your right to a jury trial for the DUI as well as other trial rights. Admitting that the written police reports are admissible and sufficient to support a finding of guilty if the court finds reason to “revoke” the deferred prosecution

What you can expect during the program
Linda M. Callahan

Required Treatment

  • A deferred prosecution consists of two years of treatment in a court-approved and state-accredited treatment program, followed by three years of sobriety and law-abiding behavior.
  • Proof of attendance and compliance (or non-compliance) with the treatment program must be sent to the court by the treating agency on schedule as the court requires.
  • You must complete a course of intensive out-patient (IOP) treatment as recommended by the treatment agency. You may be required to attend as many as three treatment sessions per week in the first year of the program.
    In the alternative, the person may undergo inpatient treatment at a state-approved facility.
  • The remainder of the first year consists of weekly attendance at treatment.
    In the second year, this requirement is reduced to once a month. 
    Throughout, the person must also attend two alcoholics anonymous (or equivalent) meetings per week.

When is the DUI Dismissed?

A hearing is held at the end of the two-year treatment program to ensure that all requirements were completed.

Three years after the two-year treatment program has been completed, the court will dismiss the underlying DUI (or other charge) provided that the person has committed no “similar offenses,” has maintained sobriety, and has complied with any additional requirements imposed by the court when granting the deferred prosecution.

For example, some courts require AA (or equivalent) attendance for the entire five-year period.

For a second offense, there is a greater likelihood that a chemical dependency evaluation will result in a recommendation for intensive treatment for alcohol or drug dependency.

plan of action

Is a DP right for me?

After reviewing the prosecution’s evidence and considering any defenses that may overcome that evidence, a seasoned DUI lawyer may determine that the case may best be resolved without the use of a deferred prosecution. 

Because the opportunity for a deferred prosecution is a once-in-a-lifetime event, it should only be used when the person has no viable alternative resolution, or when the person feels sure that without the supervision of the court and probation, they will continue to use alcohol or other substances to their detriment, thereby increasing the likelihood of committing a new offense.

If you are considering a deferred prosecution, we can help you decide whether that course of action is right for you and if so, navigate you through the process. Call us now for a free consultation.

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