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Diversion program could erase TV host's drunk driving charges

Viewers in Pennsylvania may be familiar with TV talk show host Steve Wilkos' brash and confrontational style with his guests that dates from his time as fellow television host Jerry Springer's head of security. In the courtroom, however, Wilkos has been open to a more rehabilitative vision of criminal justice for the drunk driving charges he faced after a January one-car collision.

On April 23, 2018, Wilkos admitted to drunk driving on the January morning when his vehicle flipped over in Darien, Connecticut. In a hearing in Stamford Superior Court, he requested admission to the state's alcohol education program. Consisting of 15 weeks of courses as well as a panel with victims of drunk driving, the program allows participants to erase their DUI charges from their criminal record upon successful completion. Wilkos also said that he had entered a rehab program in order to address his issues with alcohol.

The crash itself took place as Wilkos drove down the street alone; he initially claimed that he had difficulty seeing as he was not wearing his glasses and that he ran into poles and objects on the side of the road as he reached around the car for his glasses. However, police disputed this account and he was charged with drunk driving after the crash. During this time, he took a break from his television program in order to recover from his injuries. Wilkos was the only person injured in the one-car accident.

People who are facing DWI charges could also deal with long-term consequences if convicted, including loss of one's driver's license, hefty fines, a criminal record and even jail time in some cases. In addition, insurance rates can climb dramatically. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to help people accused of drunk driving to mount a defense and avoid conviction before trial or in the courtroom.

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