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Does Kansas City, Kansas, offer a DUI drug diversion program?

A pretrial diversion program is available to first-time DUI offenders in Kansas City, Kansas, and other parts of Wyandotte County. Defendants must be qualified to enter the program. The district attorney's office has the last word on whether a defendant is accepted into diversion.

Defendants with earlier DUI convictions or whose offenses include a crash involving a serious injury or fatality are excluded from the program. Diversion also is prohibited for former participants. Acceptance may hinge upon the defendant's blood alcohol level, a driver's license status or even as something as simple as the timing of an application.

Participation in the diversion program requires a long-term commitment -- between one and two years. Program costs, fees, fines and any restitution payments are a defendant's responsibility and must be paid in a timely manner, according to an agreement. The benefits of graduating from the DUI program can be numerous, personally and legally, but the diversion program is not without responsibilities or risks.

Participants are provided evaluations and treatment for substance abuse, given random drug and alcohol tests and must attend all scheduled court appearances. DUI charges are suspended when a defendant enters the program. Charges are dropped entirely with successful completion, but reinstated when a defendant fails to complete diversion.

The diversion program is beneficial to the legal system as well as defendants. A person who successfully completes diversion spares the court's efforts put into prosecution and costs for incarceration. Diversion "graduates" are also less likely to re-offend than defendants who do not participate in the program.

Although it is not mandatory to retain a criminal defense attorney to request diversion, it is highly recommended to seek a legal counselor's advice when applying for the drunk driving treatment program. A lawyer will be able to tell you whether acceptance is likely, outline program expectations and answer specific questions according to the circumstances of your case.

Source: Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office, "Policy for Diversion of 1st Time DUI Charges," accessed May. 14, 2015

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