For most people who are arrested for Driving Under the Influence, or DUI as it is commonly referred, it is their first brush with the law. A high percentage of our DUI clients have never been in trouble before in their lives. This makes a lot of sense, in that DUI is not a crime that one goes out and “commits,” but rather is an offense that many times simply is a result of poor judgment.
Fortunately, in Monroe County there is a first time offender DUI Diversion program entitled the Back on Track Program. This program is designed to give first offenders a second chance without a permanent DUI conviction on their record.
Now in terms of diversion programs, diversion programs can be a great thing for many clients IF the State would likely be able to prove its case. Of course that ability of the State to prove its case is a big qualifier. So as you read further about Monroe County’s Back on Track Program, keep this in mind and note that diversion may or may not be a good option, depending on the facts and legal issues inherent in a specific case.
One of the biggest issues in being charged with DUI is that the Florida Legislature has enacted legislation that takes the sentencing out of the hands of local judges in DUI cases. What I mean by this is that the legislature has designated certain minimum penalties for Driving Under the Influence cases. Within those minimum penalties is the requirement that the court adjudicate you guilty of the offense. What this means, is that if you enter any sort of plea to a driving under the influence charge, the Court has no choice but adjudicate you guilty, which means that it is a permanent criminal conviction upon your record. The Florida Keys and Key West DUI Diversion program helps first time offenders avoid this criminal conviction.
The way the program works is as follows, your attorney requests that your case be reviewed for eligibility into the DUI Back On Track Diversion Program. If it is determined that you qualify, you then enter into a diversion contract with the State. This contract requires you to say out of trouble for a period of time. It also requires that you do accomplish certain requirements including attending DUI school, performing community service, completing an 8 hour driver improvement course, attending a victim impact panel as well as paying fines, court costs, and costs of supervision. There can be additional requirements for those individuals that either refused the breath test or took the breath test and tested higher than .15 (which is considered “enhanced”). The benefit of complying with the terms of the DUI diversion contract is that at the end of it, the State agrees to modify the charge from DUI to Reckless Driving.
The benefit of the lesser charge of Reckless Driving is not only that it is a lesser offense, but additionally that the legislature has not imposed a mandatory adjudication requirement. This means that the Court can withhold adjudication, which means that it is not a criminal conviction to reckless driving. This also means that one is eligible to seal his or her record after the case is concluded.
In summary, the DUI Diversion program in the Florida Keys and Key West is a good option for some of our clients because it allows them to keep their records clean even after a DUI charge. To learn more about the DUI Diversion program in the Florida Keys and Key West contact the attorneys at Robertson & Hunter.