Tiger Woods pleads not guilty to DUI charges, will enter diversion program

The superstar golfer will have community service and more, officials said.

ByABC News
August 9, 2017, 12:42 PM

— -- Tiger Woods did not attend his arraignment in Florida on Wednesday for a driving under the influence charge, leaving his defense attorney to sign a not guilty plea in court.

The defendant's attendance is required for any plea other than not guilty. Woods' attorney, Douglas Duncan, declined to comment Wednesday.

Woods will enter a one-year diversion program for DUI offenders in Palm Beach County, Adrienne Ellis, the Palm Beach County chief assistant state attorney, told ABC News. Community service and a “Victim Impact Panel,” in which classes discuss real-life drinking and drug related crashes, are part of the program requirements.

Although there is no plea deal, entering the program allows Woods to knock the charge down to a reckless driving count, Ellis said. Because Woods is a first-time offender, she added, the charge could be expunged.

"He wasn't treated differently than anybody else," Ellis told ABC News.

Woods' arraignment date was reset for Oct. 25 at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The 41-year-old superstar golfer was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in the early morning hours of May 29. Police officers found him asleep at the wheel of his running car, which was stopped partially in the right lane and partially in the bike lane, about 15 miles from his home in Jupiter, Florida, according to an incident report. They also noted "fresh damage" to the vehicle.

"Both driver's side tires were flat along with minor damage to both respective rims," the incident report said. "There was also minor damage to the front driver's side bumper and rear bumper and the passenger rear tail light appeared to be out."

Woods, who allegedly had extremely slow and slurred speech, "stated that he did not know where he was," according to the incident report.

"Woods had changed his story of where he was going and where he was coming from. Woods asked how far from his house he was," the report continued.

When Woods got out of the car, police said he was swaying and using his arms to balance. During the field sobriety test, police said the golfer's eyes were droopy, his pupils were dilated and he was often swaying and losing his balance.

He was administered two Breathalyzer tests and his alcohol level was recorded at 0 on both, police said.

Woods told police he takes several prescription medications, the incident report said. He was released on his own recognizance by 10:50 a.m. ET.

Woods, who had back surgery in April, released a statement at the time of his arrest in which he blamed the incident on prescription medication he was taking. He apologized to his family, friends and fans, saying he let himself down, as well.

"I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions," Woods said in a statement later May 29. "I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly."

"I would like to apologize with all my heart to my family, friends and the fans," he added. "I expect more from myself too."

On June 19, weeks after his arrest, Woods released a statement on Twitter saying he is seeking "professional help" for his use of prescription drugs.

"I'm currently receiving professional help to manage my medications and ways that I deal with back pain and a sleep disorder," he said in the statement. "I want to thank everyone for the amazing outpouring of support and understanding, especially the fans and players on tour."

ABC News' Karen D'Uva, Tara Fowler, Michael Edison Hayden, Julia Jacobo, Lesley Messer, Dean Schabner, Emily Shapiro and Jason Volack contributed to this report.

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