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Tiger Woods likely to enter first-time DUI offender program in Florida

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Reuters) - Golfer Tiger Woods is expected to enter a program for first-time DUI offenders to resolve charges filed against him after police found him asleep at the wheel of his parked car alongside a Florida road, a prosecutor said on Wednesday.

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The former world No. 1 golfer was not in court as his lawyer entered a not-guilty plea to a charge of driving under the influence stemming from Woods’ arrest in May.

But Woods, 41, is expected to appear at the Palm Beach Gardens courthouse for an Oct. 25 hearing to plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving, according Adrienne Ellis, a chief assistant state attorney for Palm Beach County.

The reckless driving plea would allow Woods to take part in a 12-month probation program that would involve community service, DUI school, a substance abuse evaluation, possible treatment and other conditions.

Woods would avoid a DUI conviction if he completes the program.

His attorney, Douglas Duncan, declined to discuss the case with reporters at the courthouse on Wednesday.

Police found Woods stopped on the side of a Palm Beach-area road in his Mercedes-Benz at about 3 a.m. on May 29. He had “extremely slow and slurred speech” after being awakened by a Jupiter police officer but was cooperative and told officers he takes several prescriptions, including Xanax, according to a police report.

Woods, who had been heading away from his home on the exclusive Jupiter Island, could not remember where he was going and told police he was returning from Los Angeles.

A blood test showed he had the painkiller Vicodin and the antidepressant Xanax in his system but no alcohol. He was charged with driving under the influence and improperly stopping his vehicle.

In a statement after his arrest, Woods apologized to fans and blamed the incident on prescription medication he was taking to manage pain from a recent back surgery.

In mid-June, Woods said he was receiving professional help to manage his use of pain medications and a sleep disorder. The following month he announced he had completed an out-of-state program.

Woods has won 14 major golf championships, second only to Jack Nicklaus, but has competed little during the past two years after undergoing multiple back surgeries. He currently is not ranked on the PGA’s list of top 1,000 players.

Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott