BOISE — First-time drunk driving offenders could have their charges dismissed if they complete a diversion program, if a bill that was heard Tuesday becomes law.
The House Judiciary committee voted to send the bill, which is being proposed to Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, to the House’s amending order to make some changes to the wording. The bill would create an optional program where first-time offenders could have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicles for a year, work at least 32 hours either on the county sheriff’s labor detail or other approved community service and get at least 24 hours of drug and alcohol counseling.
The program would be both voluntary for the offender and for the prosecutor — prosecutors who don’t want to offer it as an option wouldn’t have to. Kerby said the bill would do more to reduce recidivism than the current approach since it would help offenders deal with their problems.
“We’re trying to give people a hand up,” Kerby said. “We’re trying to give people a chance to change their behavior.”
If someone completes the diversion program and gets a second DUI, it would be prosecuted the same as a first one. However, a third DUI would be prosecuted as a felony, as a third DUI is now.
Representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Idaho Sheriffs Association and the Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers all testified in favor of the bill. The Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association opposed it. Rep. Gary Marshall, R-Idaho Falls, cast the only vote against the bill as a result.
“I’m not sure if it would bode well for us to vote against all our prosecutors across the state of Idaho,” Marshall said. “They’re concerned about the way this would be handled and who’s going to enforce the provisions of it, which we don’t really have covered in the bill.”