D.R.O.P. DUI Diversion in Pinellas County

Did you know that the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County, FL, created the “DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program,” called “D.R.O.P.“? The diversion program allows for the rapid resolution of some first-time DUI offenses that occurred on or after June 1, 2021.

In Pinellas County, DUI cases are prosecuted at the Pinellas County Justice Center located at 14250 49th St N in Clearwater, FL. Prosecutors reserve the right to evaluate each case on an individual, fact-specific basis, even when the person otherwise meets all the eligibility criteria. 

To participate in the new DUI diversion program called “D.R.O.P.,” an application and a non-refundable $50 application fee must be submitted. The application must be received by the prosecution by the State Attorney’s Office before the second pretrial hearing.

The eligibility requirements to enter the D.R.O.P. program include performing the following three pre-plea conditions:

  • Complete twenty (20) community service hours;
  • Complete DUI School; and
  • Complete the M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel.

Any conditions completed before entering the plea will be credited toward the special conditions imposed by the court as part of probation.

In exchange for completing the pre-plea conditions and being accepted into D.R.O.P., the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office will agree to the following resolution of the criminal case:

  • in exchange for a “guilty” plea, the case will be reduced from DUI to Reckless Driving under Florida Statute Section 316.192(5);
    • with a “withhold of adjudication” for a Tier 1 offense;
    • with an “adjudication of guilt” for a Tier 2 offense; and
  • Twelve (12) months probation to complete the special conditions required for either Tier I or Tier II as discussed below.

The plea resolution must be entered before any demand for a speedy trial is filed or before any motions are filed in the case or before any depositions are taken.

Attorney on DROP DUI Diversion in Pinellas County, FL

If you were arrested for your first DUI offense in Pinellas County, FL, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who focuses in DUI defense. We can help you demand a formal review hearing within ten (10) days of your arrest, which is the only way to contest the administrative suspension of your driver’s license.

Because the attorneys at Sammis Law Firm focus on DUI defense in Pinellas County, FL, we are familiar with the new DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program (D.R.O.P.) requirement.

During a free consultation, we can discuss the pros and cons of entering the program, the eligibility requirements, and the best ways to complete all the conditions to resolve the case on the best possible terms.

Visit our office at Sammis Law Firm, 14010 Roosevelt Blvd Suite 701, Clearwater, FL 33762-3820, near the Clearwater Bureau of Administrative Reviews (BAR) office. The Criminal Justice Center (CJC) courthouse for the Sixth Judicial Circuit is nearby. 

Don’t face the judge alone. Contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Pinellas County, FL, for traffic crimes, including DUI, reckless driving, racing, or fleeing to elude.

Call 727-210-7004. 

DUI Cases Not Eligible for D.R.O.P. Diversion in Pinellas

Some types of cases will not be eligible for the new D.R.O.P. diversion program in Pinellas County, FL, including cases that involve:

  • a breath or blood sample reading over 0.150 B.A.C. (even if the defense attorney can show a lower B.A.C. at the time of driving through extrapolation);
  • a crash with bodily injury or significant property damage;
  • minor children in the Defendant’s vehicle at the time of the DUI offense;
  • not having a valid driver’s license at the time of the offense;
  • holding a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL);
  • having accompanying or pending felony charges;
  • being on any form of supervision (including probation or another diversion program);
  • having previously committed a similar offense; or
  • having previously participated in a prior traffic-related diversion program.

Remember that the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County, FL, reserves the ability to evaluate each case on an individual, fact-specific basis, even when the person otherwise meets all of the eligibility criteria. In other words, the defendant’s eligibility is determined at the sole discretion of the State Attorney.

In some cases, the State Attorney’s Office might request your out-of-state Driver’s License Record (some states call it a Driving Record Abstract) so that the State may confirm your client has no prior DUI-related incidents, does not have a CDL, and that the license was valid on the date of offense.

If you are found NOT to be eligible for some reason, your criminal defense attorney can contact the prosecutor to present any mitigation and ask for reconsideration. The State Attorney’s Office has wide latitude in accepting or rejecting cases in DROP.

Even if you are not eligible for DROP, your attorney might still be able to negotiate a similar resolution in court (even though the case is not formally part of the DROP program.

DROP Tier One for BAC of 0.120 or Below or Drug DUI

The tier one sanctions apply when the DUI involves a BAC of 0.120 or below or an accusation of drug impairment. The special conditions in those cases include:

  • six (6) months probation;
  • fines and fees;
  • fifty (50) community service hours;
  • ten (10) day vehicle immobilization;
  • no consumption of alcohol/illegal drugs/non-prescribed drugs;
  • no bars, clubs, or establishments where alcoholic beverages are primarily served while on probation; and
  • mandatory random alcohol/drug testing at the defendant’s expense.

DROP Tier Two for BAC of .120 -0.150 or Refusal

The Tier two sanctions apply when the DUI involves a BAC Between 0.120 and 0.150 and a breath test refusal to submit to testing. The special conditions in those cases include:

  • nine (9) months probation;
  • fines and fees; 
  • fifty (50) community service hours;
  • ten (10) day vehicle immobilization;
  • no consumption of alcohol/illegal drugs/non-prescribed drugs;
  • no bars, clubs, or establishments where alcoholic beverages are primarily served; and
  • mandatory random alcohol/drug testing at the defendant’s expense.

What is a DUI Diversion Program?

What is a diversion program? A diversion program involves “diverting” a case from the court system in exchange for a person completing certain tasks like counseling or community service.

After the special conditions are completed, the case is closed, the charges are dropped completely, or the charges are reduced to a less serious offense.

In March of 2018, the State Attorney’s Office in Hillsborough County created a diversion program for the first DUI case called RIDR. Completing RIDR does not result in the charges being dismissed, but it does result in the DUI being reduced to reckless driving with a withhold of adjudication.

The withhold means that the case might be eligible to be sealed. Click here to learn more about the DUI RIDR Diversion program in Hillsborough County, FL.

Although Pinellas County doesn’t have a formal diversion program for any DUI arrest before June 1, 2021, the prosecutors often drop DUI charges to reckless driving if they are worried about getting a “not guilty” verdict at trial.

In some cases, the prosecutor might drop the DUI charges entirely, especially if the criminal defense attorney has filed a viable motion to dismiss or a motion to suppress or exclude evidence.

Other Types of Diversion Programs in Pinellas County, FL

Depending on the program, diversion might be offered on a pre-arrest or post-arrest basis. Other diversion programs in Pinellas County, FL, include:

  • Misdemeanor Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) Program –
    • After an arrest or “notice to appear” in court, a person might be eligible to enter a diversion program to get the charges dismissed.
    • The program allows low-level offenses to voluntarily complete sanctions, such as community service, treatment, and fines, in exchange for having charges dropped.
    • The types of misdemeanor charges that might be eligible for PTI include:
      • Obstructing or Resisting Arrest or Obstructing an Officer without Violence
      • Disorderly Conduct
      • Solicitation for Prostitution
      • Exposure of Sexual Organs
      • Lewd or Lascivious Conduct
      • Worthless Checks,
      • Theft of Utilities
      • Unlicensed Contracting
  • Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) –
    • DVIP must pay a fee and complete classes for anger management or batterer’s intervention.
  • Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion (APAD) –
    • Many types of misdemeanor offenses are eligible for the APAD diversion program, which helps the person avoid being arrested at all for charges that might include possession of marijuana, petit theft, criminal mischief, or battery.
  • Bad Check Checks Diversion Program (BCDP) –
    • Available for cases involving passing a bad or worthless check or a check on an account closed or with insufficient funds.
  • Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) Program –
    • Many third-degree felonies that are not traffic-related are eligible for Felony PTI, which results in the dismissal of the charges, although felony DUI cases such as a third or four DUI, DUI with serious bodily injury, or DUI manslaughter would not be eligible.
  • Felony Drug Court Program –
    • After an arrest for a drug charge, felony drug court allows a person to seek drug treatment to drop the charges.
  • Juvenile Diversion –
    • The Sixth Judicial Circuit’s Juvenile Diversion programs provide second chances for at-risk youths who have not previously been in the criminal justice system, including Teen Court, Juvenile Drug Court, STOP (Service & Treatment for Offender Prevention), Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program (JAAP), and Juvenile Arbitration.

Additional Resources

D.R.O.P. Pinellas First DUI Diversion Program Flyer—Visit the Sixth Judicial Circuit’s website of State Attorney Bruce Bartlett to learn more about diversion programs in Pinellas County, FL, including the DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program (D.R.O.P.).

Drop Program in Pinellas County, FL – Visit the Sixth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office website to learn more about the voluntary DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program called “D.R.O.P.” and find DROP community service partners. The diversion program requires the completion of the statutory minimum mandatory DUI sanctions. The article discusses the eligibility criteria and explains how to apply to either of the two tiers of the program. The article also links to downloadable forms, including the DROP Application, the Statement of Prior Record, the Written Plea of Not Guilty, and the Waiver of Speedy Trial. Directions for DROP in Pinellas County can be directed to Ben Kanoski at 727.464.6786 or Amelia Hummel at 727.464.6786 or by emailing DiversionPinellas@flsa6.gov.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.