Over the past 10 years, Florida has joined a lot of other states in creating first-offender diversion programs. It began with a pretrial diversion program in Orange County, followed by the RIDR program in Hillsborough County. Dade County and Monroe County have a program called Back on Track, and the 12th Circuit (which comprises Sarasota, Manatee, and Desoto counties) has a program called DETER. All of these programs are designed to allow a first offender in a non-aggravated DUI situation to resolve their case without a DUI conviction by completing basic educational and community service activities, as well as paying fines and court costs.
Many diversion programs might also require the person to attend DUI School, get an ignition interlock device installed in their motor vehicle, waive the speedy trial, and participate in the offender work program at the local sheriff's office. Compliance with all requirements will allow for a DUI charge to be reduced to a reckless driving charge, and an agreement to withhold adjudication. As previously mentioned, it is illegal to withhold adjudication on a DUI charge, but it is not illegal to withhold adjudication on a reckless driving charge, which means a person could have their records sealed. In the age of the internet, having records sealed from the public is important.
Are Diversion Programs A Good Idea For Everyone Convicted Of DUI Charges?
Many people who have serious issues with alcohol benefit significantly from diversion programs. If a client is willing to admit that they are tired of living a certain way and want to change, as opposed to continue being periodically arrested and thrown in jail, then a diversion program can help them. Diversion programs are also good for people who just had one bad night or error in judgment and do not want a permanent black mark on their record. With that said, some cases should be fought. For example, if the breath machine malfunctioned or there was a problem with the initial arrest and a client is not actually guilty, then it may be worth fighting. For the vast majority of drivers who are first-offense DUI defendants, it is wise to take advantage of a diversion program, but on occasion, it is a better idea to turn down the diversion program and fight the case.
How Common Are DUI Arrests For Individuals Who Are Under The Age Of 21 In Florida?
Every year, I see several clients who are under the age of 21 and facing a DUI charge. In Florida, there is not a separate DUI charge for someone who is under the age of 21, but there are administrative consequences for a person who is under the age of 21 and blows over 0.02 on a breath test. While the standards for driving under the influence are exactly the same for everyone—regardless of age—there are separate criminal offenses applied to cases in which an underage person is found to be in possession of alcohol.
For more information on Alternative Programs For 1st Time DUI Offenders, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (941) 219-5553 today.