Golf legend Tiger Woods appears to be on the verge of settling his drunk driving case via plea bargain, although no deal is in place as of yet. The prosecutor in the case told reporters that Woods is expected to enter a first-time drunk driver diversion program in which defendants can plead their cases down to a lesser charge of reckless driving. To avoid a drunk driving conviction, they must meet several conditions including probation, community service and attendance at a victim impact panel.
Woods was arrested early on May 29 when an officer discovered him asleep in his vehicle, which was damaged and parked on the side of the road with flat tires. Police say they found the golfer disoriented and with slurred speech. They had him perform field sobriety tests, which he failed. However, a Breathalyzer test found no alcohol in his system.
The police report also noted that Woods had been taking anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers. His website indicated that he had undergone surgery for a damaged spinal disc and was being treated for severe leg and back pain, according to the Courthouse News Service.
“I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said in a statement shortly after the event. “I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.”
In Ohio, Florida and other states, police can arrest you for driving while intoxicated even if you’re not drunk, as long as they can show your driving was impaired by another substance. That intoxicating substance could be an illegal drug or a medication you have been legally prescribed.
Woods qualifies for a first-time offender diversion program despite a 2009 accident that was widely publicized. In that incident, he was apparently headed home when he crashed his car into a fire hydrant in his neighborhood. He was not charged with drunk driving in that case.
The 14-time PGA majors champion was originally scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 9, but the hearing has now been rescheduled for Oct. 25.