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Underage Consumption Diversion

The Vermillion Police Department, in partnership with the Clay County Sheriff's Department, understands the potential consequences of underage consumption arrests. Like most arrests, these violations can have potentially long-term effects on a young person's educational and professional career. Our pilot program offers an alternative approach.

Program Description:

The Underage Alcohol Diversion program is intended as an alternative to prosecution for 1st time offenders charged with Underage Consumption (SDCL 35-9-2). Participants will complete an educational and/or an alcohol screening program and demonstrate abstinence for the duration of the program. Successful participants will not have the charge of Underage Consumption filed on their criminal record. The program is not intended to mitigate the penalty of the offense but to provide alternatives to the standard fine and loss of Driver's License associated with this offense. Candidates for diversion will pay any costs associated with the participation in the program and submit to an alcohol evaluation. Further, the candidate will comply with the recommendation of the evaluation. In its pilot years, 2014/2015, the program is intended to serve participants charged in Clay County by the Vermillion Police Department and the Clay County Sheriff's Office. Participation in the program is voluntary.

Criteria:

To be accepted to the program the candidate must:

  • Have a charge pending for a first violation of Underage Consumption (SDCL 35-9-2).
  • That offense must be the only offense involved in the incident (ex. DWI, vandalism, assault, etc). If other offenses are associated, all charges will be forwarded to the States Attorney for prosecution.

  • The offender must have been charged by an officer of the Vermillion Police Department or the Clay County Sheriff's Office. Those charged by other agencies with jurisdiction in Clay County such as the SD Highway Patrol or the USD Police Department must be referred to the program by the Clay County States Attorney.
  • The candidate will be notified of eligibility by the Diversion Program Officers (Vermillion Police Chief & Clay County Sheriff). A meeting will be scheduled and the candidate must attend.
  • The candidate must be willing to comply with all requirements of the program as follows:

Requirements:

A successful candidate will:

  • Agree to all conditions of the program, provided in writing;
  • Demonstrate abstinence for the duration of the program (60 days) by appearing at the Clay County Sheriff's Office each morning between 5:30 and 7:30 AM and again each evening between 5:30 and 7:30 PM. The participant will blow into a PBT device to measure the amount of alcohol in the breath sample; Pay the costs ($120.00) in advance for the PBT testing;
  • Submit to an alcohol screening at an accredited alcohol counseling center, at the participant's expense, if any, and comply with any recommendations. The participant must also authorize release of all reports and recommendations from the screener to the Diversion Committee;
  • The participant will be removed from the program if charged with any non-traffic criminal offenses including additional alcohol violations while participating in the diversion program;
  • The participant must notify a member of the diversion committee of any contact with law enforcement during the period of participation;
  • The participant must agree to remain in Clay County for the duration of the program period for the purposes of alcohol testing. Candidates with obligations outside of Clay County which will prohibit twice daily testing will not be considered as candidates for diversion. Testing at other locations is not considered an alternative to participation in this program.

Disqualifications:

  • Any person who does not meet the criteria for participation as stated above or fails to meet or agree to any of the requirements for participation will be disqualified from participation;
  • Participants who violate any of the agreed upon requirements of the program as stated above during the period of participation will be removed from the program. A participant who voluntarily discontinues participation will be considered disqualified. All payments for costs of participation will be forfeited and the original charging documents will be forwarded for prosecution;
  • Late attendance for breath testing and/or unfavorable contact with law enforcement will result in a requirement to meet with the Diversion Committee to re-evaluate the participant's likelihood for successful completion of the program. Repeated violations will result in disqualification from the program;
  • Additional alcohol offenses committed by participants under the age of 21 may result in a new charge of Underage Consumption as well as prosecution for the original offense.

Graduation:

Participants who successfully comply with the agreed upon conditions of the program will receive a letter from the Diversion Committee noting the successful completion and stating that charges related to the original offense will not be filed. The case disposition on the citing officer's report will indicate that no charges were filed.

Notification:

The Clay County State's Attorney will receive notification of participants accepted to, or rejected from admission to the program. The State's Attorney will also be informed of those participants who successfully complete the diversion program and those who are removed from the program so that prosecution for the original offense can proceed.

Summary:

The Clay County Alcohol Diversion Program is intended to be completely voluntary on the part of the participant. For many reasons, a potential participant may choose not to participate and may either contest their charge in the court system or proceed with a plea and accept the court's sentence. This Program is not intended to encourage or deter that avenue or limit a potential participant's rights. Those who desire to participate in order to protect his/her criminal record will do so voluntarily and at any time may opt out of this program and may exercise those same rights and protections as any other person so charged.