Have you or someone you loved been charged with a DUI? If so, it’s important to know your options before heading into court. In fact, depending on your specific situation, you may be able to move your case from criminal court to mediation. However, not everyone is eligible for this step. Here’s a look at the three primary factors that determine if a criminal case can go to mediation or not.

All Parties Are Amenable

In order for your DUI charge to go to mediation, all parties must be in agreement. This means that not just the defendant and the prosecutor must agree to mediation, but the judge overseeing the case must also agree.

Remember that when it comes to DUI cases, the goal of the court is not only to punish the defendant but to also minimize the risk that the defendant will re-offend. The courts typically look more favorably on defendants that are willing to take steps to reduce the risk of another DUI, such as extensive rehabilitation, than those that are unwilling to undergo this type of treatment.

State Laws Where the Incident Occurred

Another factor determining whether a case will go to mediation are the state laws governing the jurisdiction where the DUI took place. The reality is that DUI laws vary widely from state to state, with some having a minimum jail stay for a first offense, while others having no minimum sentence for an initial offense.

In addition, some states don’t allow mediation for any criminal case, while other states limit which types of offenses can qualify for mediation. It’s important to talk to your attorney to find out if your state and local laws allow for mediation in a first offense DUI case.

Severity of DUI Offense

The severity of your DUI charge will also play a big factor in whether your case will be eligible for mediation or not. For example, if someone’s personal property was damaged or another party was injured due to the DUI charge, you may not be eligible for mediation. Even if you were still eligible in this situation, all parties involved, including the injured party or the person whose personal property was damaged, would have to agree to mediation.

The judge or prosecutor may also take your previous driving history and your blood alcohol level at the time of your DUI charge under consideration when determining whether to accept mediation or not. It will likely be more difficult to go to mediation if you have prior DUI charges, despite how long ago they might have been.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, talk to your attorney immediately. Ask your attorney or public defender if mediation is right for your specific situation. The more you know about how mediation works in the jurisdiction where you were arrested, the better chance you have of having your case moved from court to mediation.