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Tiger Woods likely to enter diversion program, prosecutor says

On May 29, a police officer from Jupiter, Florida, allegedly encountered golfing legend Tiger Woods asleep in his Mercedes, which was parked along the road in the early morning. The car was damaged and had flat tires.

Upon awakening Woods, the police officer reported that he seemed disoriented with slow, slurred speech. The police said he failed field sobriety tests such as the "walk and turn" test and the "one-leg stand" test. He was also administered a Breathalyzer test, however, which found no alcohol in his system.

In most states, including both Florida and California, it is entirely possible to be charged with drunk driving even when there is no alcohol in your system. Other substances, including legally prescribed medication, can impair your ability to drive, as can illegal drugs. If officers determine your ability is impaired and you have any intoxicating drug in your system, you can be charged with DUI.

Woods, in fact, cites prescription medication as the reason for his apparent intoxication. The police report indicates he was on anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers. In April, Woods's website said he had undergone surgery for a damaged spinal disc, and that he had been going through severe leg and back pain, according to the Courthouse News Service.

Woods said that he understood the seriousness of his actions and is cooperating in the case. 

Woods to plead guilty to reckless driving, complete probation

It now appears that Woods will be entering a first-offender diversion program as the result of a plea bargain. Although the Florida state's attorney's office for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit said no plea deal is yet in place, at a hearing last week, the prosecutor confirmed that he is expected to enter a DUI diversion program in Palm Beach County.

Under the terms of the diversion program, Woods will plead guilty to reckless driving, which carries far fewer long-term consequences than a DUI conviction. He will be required to serve probation and community service, and to participate in a victim impact panel, among other requirements.

In California, first-time drunk-driving offenders are also eligible for a diversion program -- and not only first offenders. Those who are convicted of "wet reckless driving" and even multiple offenders can enter into state-sponsored DUI programs to help them learn how to overcome their alcohol and drug problems so they can get back on the road.

California's first-offender program and other DUI programs are required for people who wish to drive after a DUI conviction. In some other states, including Florida, first-time offenders who enter the diversion program are given the opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser charge. In some cases, successful completion of these programs can result in the charges being dropped.

You may be wondering if Tiger Woods even qualifies for a first-offender diversion program since he has previously been in a suspicious accident. In 2009, around the time his extramarital affairs were discovered by the media, Woods crashed his car into a fire hydrant near his Windermere, Florida, home. In that case, however, he was not charged with DUI.

A drunk driving arrest can be the result of poor judgment or of long-term problems with alcohol or drugs. Whatever the reason, the consequences can be severe and long-lasting. If you have been arrested for DUI in Southern California, do not wait to contact an attorney. If you don't act quickly to protect them at the administrative hearing, you could lose your driving privileges entirely.

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