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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods pleads guilty to reckless driving and will enter programme for driving under the influence offenders

Former world number one golfer did not appear at the Palm Beach County courthouse for his arraignment following May’s arrest

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 August, 2017, 3:38am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 August, 2017, 10:14am

Tiger Woods has agreed to plead guilty to reckless driving and will enter a diversion programme that will allow him to have his record wiped clean, a prosecutor said on Wednesday.

Woods, 41, was charged with driving under the influence in May when he was found asleep in his Mercedes-Benz, apparently under the influence of a prescription painkiller and sleeping medication. No alcohol was found in his system.

Woods did not appear at the Palm Beach County courthouse for his arraignment, but prosecutor Adrienne Ellis said Woods agreed to plead guilty at an October 25 hearing and enter the county’s programme for first-time driving under the influence offenders.

“He is not being treated any different than anyone else,” Ellis said.

Lawyer, Douglas Duncan, entered a not guilty plea to the driving under the influence charge on Woods’ behalf and declined to comment as he left the courthouse.

Watch: Police video of Tiger Woods taking a field sobriety test in May

Under the plea deal, prosecutors would drop the driving under the influence charge, which is a more severe charge than reckless driving. If he completes the programme, he can ask a judge to expunge the reckless driving conviction.

In the diversion programme, Woods will spend a year on probation, pay a US$250 fine and court costs, attend driving under the influence school and perform 50 hours of community service.

He would also have to attend a workshop where victims of impaired drivers detail how their lives were damaged and face other conditions.

Tiger Woods finishes programme to manage medications and will continue treatment

Since the programme began four years ago, almost 2,400 defendants have enrolled, according to the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office.

If convicted of driving under the influence, Woods would have faced a fine of between US$500 and US$1,000, had his car impounded for 10 days and other conditions.

He also could have been jailed for up to six months, although that was unlikely, receive probation and lose his driving licence for six months to a year.

The driving under the influence arrest was the first time Woods had been in trouble since Thanksgiving weekend 2009, when he drove his car 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 was arrested at 2am on May 29 about 15 miles from his home in Jupiter, Florida, when officers found him unconscious in his Mercedes-Benz, which was parked awkwardly on the side of the road and had damage to the driver’s side. It’s not clear how he damaged the car. Officers checked the area but didn’t find that he had hit anything.

Tiger Woods tells police officers he was on strong anti-anxiety drug Xanax during DUI arrest

Woods didn’t know where he was when asked by officers, and he stumbled and swayed through a field sobriety test, police dashboard camera video showed.

Woods told officers he was taking the painkiller Vicodin and Xanax, which treats anxiety and insomnia, to cope with his fourth back surgery in April.

He announced last month he had completed treatment at an out-of-state clinic to deal with his use of prescription medications.

His 79 PGA Tour victories and 14 major titles both rank number two 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.