Tiger Woods expected to undergo course for intoxicated drivers

The diversion programme for intoxicated drivers that Tiger Woods is expected to enter on Friday is one of several across the US aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders and backlogs of court cases.

The 41-year-old superstar golfer is scheduled to plead guilty at a court hearing to reckless driving, a less severe charge than driving under the influence, as part of a Palm Beach County, Florida, programme that has graduated almost 2,500 first-time offenders since it began four years ago.

Deputy State Attorney Richard Clausi, who oversees the county's misdemeanour prosecutions, said less than 1% of the programme's participants have re-offended.

He said the key has been getting offenders to take responsibility for their actions without requiring a trial and making sure they complete the programme.

"It's still early, but we think it has been a success," he said.

In the diversion programme, Mr Woods will spend a year on probation and pay a 250 dollar fine and court costs.

He also must attend DUI school, perform 20 hours of community service and attend a workshop where victims of impaired drivers detail how their lives were damaged.

Since he was intoxicated with prescription drugs and marijuana, according to court records, he will also be required to undergo regular drug tests.

To qualify, offenders must show a judge that they have already begun complying with these requirements.

If Woods completes the programme, he can ask a judge to expunge the reckless driving conviction, but if he is charged again, he could be treated like a second-time DUI offender.

He would not be eligible again for diversion and he could face a possible prison term, a mandatory licence suspension and stiffer fines.

Woods was arrested about 2am on May 29 when officers found him unconscious in his Mercedes-Benz, which was parked awkwardly on the roadside and had damage to the driver's side.

It was not clear how he damaged the car.

He was about 15 miles from his home.

Woods had the active ingredient for marijuana, two painkillers, Vicodin and Dilaudid, the sleep drug Ambien and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system but no alcohol, according to a toxicology report released in August.

Woods issued a statement in August saying he had been self-medicating for pain caused by his fourth back surgery and insomnia.

He did not specifically address the marijuana issue.

None was found in his possession.

"I realise now it was a mistake to do this without medical assistance," Woods said then.

He completed a drug treatment programme in July.

The DUI arrest was the first time Woods had been in trouble since Thanksgiving weekend 2009, when he ploughed his SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant outside his then-Windermere, Florida, home.

That led to revelations that he had multiple extramarital affairs, and a divorce from his wife Elin Nordegren, the mother of his two children.

He spent 45 days in a Mississippi clinic where he was treated for sex addiction.

Woods' 79 PGA Tour victories and 14 major titles both rank second all-time.

He has not competed since February because of his back injury and is not expected to return this year.

His last win was in August 2013.

Woods has said his back is improving.

AP


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