Not all first-time drunk drivers are eligible for first-offender programs; eligibility varies by state and county and is subject to agreement from the prosecution, explains Nolo. Persons facing criminal offenses are advised to speak with an experienced attorney to determine whether such programs are available to them.
First-offender programs enable the offender to avoid the full consequences of criminal prosecution, if the person does not have a prior criminal record. In jurisdictions offering first-offender programs, participants typically sign a contract requiring them to attend classes, abstain from alcohol use, make restitution and receive appropriate counseling or treatment, explains Nolo.
The first-time offender must abide by certain provisions for a specific amount of time; commonly six months or one year. If the offender successfully completes the program, the District Attorney can reduce or dismiss the charge. If the first-time offender fails to complete the program, official court proceedings can resume based on the initial charge.