The California state law the took effect last year created a misdemeanor pretrial diversion program on a county by county basis to speed up the justice process. Not every misdemeanor is including in this program. One that was questionable was Driving Under the Influence. DUI offenses are not specifically included or excluded so it seemed to be a matter for the individual judge on the day to determine.
The Court of Appeals has now made a definitive statement on the matter in Grassi v. The Superior Court of Orange County, The Court in it’s decision is following the California Supreme court’s instructions to avoid the repealing of existing laws by implication. Vehicle Code section 23640 specifically prohibits granting diversion to DUI defendants, but because Penal Code 1001.95 (the law creating misdemeanor diversion) is newer it should in theory supplant old laws. This is not the case and it will be up to the legislature to pass a specific law if they wish to include DUI offenses.