In 1975, the Washington State Legislature established a deferred prosecution option for offenders arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or impairing drugs (DUI). This option was intended to encourage individuals to seek appropriate treatment. Under this option, defendants with a significant alcohol or drug dependence problem may petition the court to defer disposition of their charge until they have completed intensive substance dependence treatment and met other conditions required by the court.
Another option invoked to encourage treatment is prosecutor diversion, which allows the court to maintain supervision over defendants and impose conditions, including treatment and victim restitution.
In 2005, the legislature authorized the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to use federal funds to contract with the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Institute) to evaluate the impact on recidivism of deferred prosecution, including prosecutor diversion, for DUI cases. In addition, this report examines whether DUI recidivism rates changed after 1998, when legislation was passed limiting eligibility and lengthening the supervision period for the deferred prosecution program.