Tiger Woods Avoids DUI Charge

By Paul Gaita 08/11/17

Woods reached a plea deal via his lawyer for his Memorial Day weekend DUI arrest. 

Tiger Woods

Golfing legend Tiger Woods will enter a diversion program for first-time DUI offenders that will allow him to avoid the charges stemming from a May 29, 2017 incident in which he was arrested after being found incapacitated from taking a combination of prescription painkiller and insomnia medication while behind the wheel of his vehicle in Jupiter, Florida.

Woods agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving and participate in the Palm Beach County-based diversion program. By agreeing to the plea, prosecutors will drop the DUI charge filed against him by police, and upon completion of the program, Woods will be allowed to request a judge to expunge the reckless driving conviction from his record.

Woods himself was not present at the time of his arraignment on August 9 at the Palm Beach County courthouse. Instead, his attorney, Douglas Duncan, entered a not guilty plea to the DUI charge in order to participate in the program. Upon entering a guilty plea to the reckless driving charge at his arraignment on October 25, Woods will remain on probation for one year, attend a DUI school and perform 50 hours of community service.

He will also have to pay a $250 fine and court costs, and will be required to attend a workshop in which victims of DUI offenders will detail the impact of such actions on their lives. By participating in the program, Woods will avoid a possible jail sentence of up to six months, a more substantial fine—between $500 and $1,000—the loss of his driver's license and other more severe conditions. 

Woods was arrested during Memorial Day weekend after Palm Beach County police found his 2015 Mercedes-Benz parked by the side of the road with its engine running and brake lights illuminated. Police roused Woods, who appeared unsteady and speaking in slurred tones on dashcam videos. He informed officers that he had not been drinking—which was confirmed by Breathalyzer and urine tests—and was instead under the influence of pain and sleep medications, which he had been taking to cope with a back surgery he had undergone in April 2017.

Following the arrest, he issued a statement in which he apologized to his family and fans for the incident, which he described as an "unexpected reaction to prescribed medications." He subsequently completed inpatient treatment at an "out-of-state" facility to contend with his dependency issues. Woods has remained out of competitive play since February 2017, and is not expected to return to the sport for the remainder of the year.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.