FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Update 9:15 a.m.: A Florida prosecutor says Tiger Woods has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence and will enter a diversion program later this year. Palm Beach County Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis said Woods entered the plea Wednesday. The 41-year-old golf superstar will enter a diversion program on Oct. 25. Woods’ attorney Douglas Duncan had no comment. Woods was not in the courtroom on Wednesday. Under the plea deal, prosecutors will drop the DUI charge from his arrest in May when he was found asleep in his Mercedes-Benz, apparently under the influence of a prescription painkiller and an anti-insomnia drug. No alcohol was found in his system. Such plea deals are offered to many first-time DUI offenders in Palm Beach County.
Tiger Woods will not attend his arraignment Wednesday on a driving under the influence charge, his attorney said, meaning under court rules the superstar golfer will be pleading not guilty.
Attorney Douglas Duncan said in an email Tuesday to The Associated Press that Woods will not be attending the hearing in Florida, but he didn’t elaborate. Any plea other than not guilty requires the defendant’s attendance.
The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office declined comment.
Woods could have agreed Wednesday to enter a program for first-time DUI defendants. He would have to plead guilty to reckless driving and receive a year’s probation.
He would also have to pay a $250 fine and court costs, attend DUI school, perform 50 hours of community service and attend a workshop where victims of impaired drivers detail how their lives were damaged. He also would have also been subject to random drug and alcohol testing and other conditions.
David S. Weinstein, a Miami defense attorney and former federal and state prosecutor not involved in the case, said prosecutors will likely keep the offer to let Woods enter the deferment program open, at least for a while.
Still, the decision for now keeps Woods’ troubles in the headlines.
Woods was arrested at 2 a.m. 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.
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. Tests showed he had no alcohol in his system.
Woods 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 No. 2 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.
His public image suffered severe damage on Thanksgiving weekend 2009 when he plowed his SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant outside his home at the time in Windermere, Florida. That led to revelations that he had multiple extramarital affairs and a divorce from his wife Elin Nordegren, the mother of his two children.