Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Tables
DUI Disposition and Sentencing Reports Background
During the past several years, there has been an increasing public and court demand for better information concerning Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Judges are frequently asked for statistics about how these cases are handled and the effectiveness of deferred prosecution or other court imposed sanctions. To respond to these requests and to provide information judges can use to manage their caseloads, the Judicial Information System Committee (JISC) designated a committee of judges to develop a set of DUI management reports.
The following statewide summary reports reflect DUI or Physical Control cases that reached disposition during the calendar year. Please note that this information is available only for courts which were on the DISCIS computer system (District and Municipal Court Information System), and only for cases disposed after January 1, 1995. The Administrative Office of the Courts will produce these statewide reports annually for cases that reached disposition during the preceding year. Future years' figures will increase as a consequence of additional courts being added to DISCIS.
For an individual court's reports, contact the local court's administrator. Variations among courts can be attributed to local court filing practices, clerical data entry procedures, prosecutor, or court practices. Please contact the court for more information or an explanation about how unique court data are affected by local practices.
A case is selected for the reports if it includes an original charge of DUI, physical control or an equivalent local ordinance, and the charge has been disposed during the date range specified for running the report. The row labels on each report are identical and describe three mutually exclusive sets of cases: (1) charges entering the system as a DUI and disposed as a DUI, (2) charges entering the system as a DUI and amended to a different charge, and (3) other charges written on the same ticket as the DUI charge.
The DUI Disposition and Sentencing Reports are composed of four statistical reports. The first report describes how DUI charges are disposed. The second report explains the effectiveness of deferred prosecution and other prosecutor deferral programs. The third report provides the common reasons for dismissal of charges. The final report furnishes information on the average amount of jail and fine/costs imposed on a convicted defendant. For assistance using these reports, contact the Administrative Office of the Courts, Court Services Unit, (360) 753-3365.
The function of the first report is to describe how DUI charges are being disposed. The report separates charges into two categories, charges with a disposition not adverse to the defendant and charges with a disposition adverse to the defendant. Charges with a disposition not adverse to the defendant appear on the left side of the report under the label "No Sentence Conditions Imposed." This category includes ONLY charges where the individual was acquitted or where the charge was dismissed without conditions (this can occur when there is insufficient evidence to sustain the charge, witnesses are not present, the defendant was found incompetent to stand trial, etc.).
Charges with adverse dispositions appear on the right side of the report in the section labeled "Sentence Conditions Imposed or Awaiting Sentence." According to RCW 10.97.030 a disposition adverse to the defendant includes convictions or dismissals entered after a period of probation, suspension, or deferral of sentence. The following dispositions appear on this part of the report: (1) guilty and bail forfeitures, (2) deferred prosecution programs, and (3) prosecutors deferral/diversion programs.
Defendants ordered to deferred prosecution programs or probation status must comply with specific court ordered conditions as if they were convicted. The types of conditions routinely ordered by the court include jail time, fines, court costs, probation fees, substance abuse treatment, attendance at victim impact panels, electronic home detention, or victim restitution.
The disposition of DUI cases is directly impacted by resources available to courts and criminal justice entities. When resources are very scarce, prosecutors typically screen DUI cases to determine which have the best chance for success (i.e., conviction). These are the cases which are likely to proceed to trial. Cases determined to have less chance for conviction on a DUI charge are frequently negotiated to convictions for lesser charges. Local jurisdictions have adopted various policies for screening DUI cases to determine how they will be prosecuted. For example, some prosecutors vigorously screen cases prior to filing with the court to determine the most appropriate charge; i.e., DUI vs. physical control vs. reckless driving. In other jurisdictions, law enforcement officers file tickets directly with the court without prior prosecutorial review. Unique practices such as these, often adopted because resources are limited, may affect the disposition of DUI cases from court to court.
This state utilizes two alternative processes for disposing DUI charges prior to convicting, acquitting or dismissing charges. These two programs are Deferred Prosecution (Def Pros) and Prosecutors Deferral/Diversion Program (Pros Defer). This report describes the number of charges referenced into or out of these programs during the reporting period.
Deferred Prosecution Program is authorized under Chapter 10.05 RCW, which allows defendants with a significant alcohol or drug addiction problem to petition the court to have the disposition of their charge deferred until they have completed an intensive substance abuse treatment and met other conditions required by the court. Three years after successful completion of the two-year program, the charge is dismissed; for those that fail, the deferred status is revoked and the defendant is prosecuted for the original DUI charge.
Prosecutors Deferral/Diversion Program is requested by the prosecutor and allowed by the court when the evidence is insufficient to result in a conviction at a trial. The defendant is required to successfully complete substance abuse treatment, and other requirements as if convicted; upon successful completion, the DUI charge may be reduced. The Prosecutors Deferral/Diversion Program allows the court to maintain supervision over defendants who are unlikely to be convicted, while giving the court the ability to impose conditions including treatment and victim restitution.
The report is a "snapshot" of the current status of the charges, which means that the charges referred out of the program are NOT the same charges entering the program during the reporting period. The report calculates the successful completion rate of charges referred out of the program during the reporting period.
The third report provides the common reasons for dismissing a charge. The report details the dispositions recorded under the section "No Sentence Conditions Imposed" found on the first report. Common reasons for dismissal include the unavailability of witnesses, death of the defendant, expiration of warrants, etc. For many courts, the percentage of "Other Charges" dismissed is significantly higher than the number of DUI or physical control charges dismissed. This is typically the result of a plea negotiation between the prosecutor and the defendant. The defendant agrees to plead guilty to the DUI or physical control charge in exchange for the prosecutor recommending the dismissal of other charges filed against the defendant on the same DUI ticket.
The fourth report describes the average jail and fine/cost conditions imposed on a defendant found guilty or allowed to forfeit bail as the final disposition for the charge. The amount imposed refers to the total number of jail days or fine/cost dollars sentenced. The amount ordered to serve or to pay reflects the amount the court did NOT suspend from the total imposed. Typically, a court will impose the maximum jail sentence allowed, while suspending a majority of the days to be served. The court does this so that it may automatically reimpose the suspended portion of the sentence if the defendant fails to comply with other conditions of sentence. Most defendants are required to serve some jail sentence and pay some fine/cost amount. Generally, there are two reasons why all DUI convictions would not have a jail sentence imposed: (1) if the court makes a special finding that the imposition of a jail sentence will pose a risk to the defendant's physical or mental well being, or (2) the court forfeits bail as the final disposition because it is unable to reach a defendant who lives outside the state. In some circumstances, the court has the authority to waive or suspend fines or costs if the defendant is found to be indigent. The average amounts imposed and ordered to be served or paid are aggregate totals, which means the average sentence for repeat offenders would probably be much higher than the aggregate average, and the average sentence for a first time offender would probably be lower.
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