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St. Louis residents may be interested in the outcome of DUI charges that had been filed against former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes. She was charged with drunk driving in June 2012 in connection to an April 2012 incident in which she allegedly sideswiped a police car in West Hollywood. She was also charged with hit-and-run and driving with a suspended license in the months following the incident.

On Feb. 24, prosecutors and Bynes reached a plea deal that allowed her to plead no-contest to reckless driving instead of DUI. According to the deal, she must serve three years probation and pay a fine, in addition to attending an alcohol education course.

The charges took so long to be resolved because the case was put on hold while Bynes dealt with mental health issues. A series of strange behaviors, including an unusual incident in a neighbor's driveway, led to Bynes spending four months in a residential psychiatric care facility. A judge also granted her parents' request to place her in an involuntary hold so that she could be further treated for mental instability. In November 2013, she was declared competent to stand trial, and the DUI charges moved forward.

Individuals who are charged with DUI may be facing jail time, fines, license suspension and a period of probation. However, this case illustrates how charges may be dismissed or dropped in exchange for a plea bargain. In some cases, an attorney may be able to argue that those who are dealing with mental health issues may require alternative treatment rather than time in jail or traditional alcohol counseling.

Source: CNN, "Amanda Bynes gets probation in DUI plea deal", Alan Duke, February 25, 2014

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