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DUI Diversion – RIDR

The State Attorney’s Office in the Thirteenth (13th) Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, FL, announced the creation of a new DUI initiative called Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR). The new program becomes effective on March 1, 2018, for anyone arrested after that date.

The recently created diversion program, Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR), is intended to enhance public safety. By requiring enhanced sanctions, the program is expected to reduce the number of repeat offenses for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Some criticize DUI diversion programs because they cause changes in the way law enforcement agencies allocate resources and decrease the number of arrests being made. People in favor of the programs show that in other counties where DUI diversion programs are being used, the number of fatal car accidents involving drugs or alcohol have continued to decrease.

In the end, the success of the program will come down to the benefits it provides the first-time offender, how it impacts recidivism rates, and how it impacts the numbers of fatal accidents caused by alcohol or drug impairment in Hillsborough County.

History of the RIDR DUI Diversion Program in Tampa, FL

The new State Attorney in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, Andrew Warren, was elected in November of 2016. He ran on a platform of being more progressive when implementing programs that reduce recidivism and keep the community safe.

Prior to March 1, 2018, Hillsborough County did not have a diversion program for individuals arrested for DUI. The Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion (APAD) program in Hillsborough County that took effect on July 1, 2017, specifically excluded anyone arrested for DUI or other criminal traffic offenses from participating. The misdemeanor intervention program (MIP) also excludes people arrested for DUI from participating in that program.

On February 19, 2018, Rena J. Frazier, the Chief of Policy and Communication for the State Attorney’s Office in the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, FL, announced the creation of the new DUI initiative called “Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism” or “RIDR.” The program became effective on March 1, 2018.

On February 26, 2018, the State Attorney’s Office invited criminal defense attorneys in both the private sector and at the Public Defender’s Office to attend an informational meeting about the new RIDR program on at the Edgecomb Courthouse, located at 800 E. Twiggs Street in downtown Tampa, FL.

More than 100 attorneys attended the meeting where the eligibility conditions and process were explained. After the presentation, criminal defense attorneys had an opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns about the initiative.

Based in part on the innovative RIDR Program, the State Attorney’s Office in Hillsborough County received the 2018 Outstanding Prosecution Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Florida.

Who is Eligible for the DUI Diversion RIDR Initiative?

The State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, FL, has imposed the following eligibility requirements to enter the DUI diversion program:

  1. The defendant was not arrested for DUI with property damage or personal injury
  2. At the time of the stop, no minor passenger under 18 years old was in the vehicle
  3. The defendant has no pending charges for:
    • Driving While License Suspended with serious bodily injury or death
    • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
    • Leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death
    • Vehicular homicide
  4. The defendant is not currently participating in any Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program
  5. The defendant is not currently on probation
  6. The defendant does not have a prior record for:
    • any prior DUI offense
    • any alcohol-related reckless driving
    • leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death
    • vehicular homicide
    • any DUI diversion program or more than one non-DUI diversion program as an adult
    • any adjudication or withhold of adjudication to any felony within the last five years prior to the date of this offense

The State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, FL, will evaluate all cases on an individual, fact-specific basis. As the offender’s eligibility is determined at the SAO’s sole discretion, it may be based on relevant factors not mentioned above.

The State Attorney’s Office has indicated that it might be flexible on these conditions under the right circumstances, so even if you think you might not be eligible, it is a good idea to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about how these eligibility requirements might impact your case.

Process for Completing the RIDR Initiative

For each case in the program, the State Attorney’s Office assigns a level that depends on the facts of the case:

  • Level 1 sanctions apply when the BAC is at .15 or below.
  • Level 2 sanctions apply when the BAC is above .15 or when no breath sample was provided (or in a BAC refusal case)
  • Level 3 sanctions apply for drug-related DUI

At the arraignment, the defendant must waive speedy trial and agree to set the case for disposition approximately sixty (60) days out. During that 60 day period, the defendant must provide proof of completion of the Pre-Plea Sanctions to the SAO.

Pre-Plea Sanctions to Be Completed Before the Disposition

During the first 60 days after the arraignment, the State Attorney’s Office expects the defendant to complete certain pre-pre sanctions for Level 1, 2, or 3, including:

  • completing at least (10) ten community service hours
  • attending the MADD victim impact panel
  • completing DUI school and recommended treatment
  • remaining crime-free

For the Level 1 and Level 2 program, the defendant must:

  • provide proof of installation of an ignition interlock alcohol monitoring device or continuous alcohol monitoring device, e.g. SCRAM

For the Level 3 program, the defendant must also:

  • not possess or consume alcohol, illegal drugs, or non-prescribed drugs
  • use PharmCheck Drugs of Abuse Patch with results provided to the SAO

Enhanced Sanctions for the RIDR Plea

After the satisfactory completion of the Pre-Plea Sanctions, the offender will be offered a plea of reckless driving with a withhold of adjudication. The negotiated plea also requires twelve (12) months probation to complete the following terms and special conditions:

  • pay the standard court costs
  • immobilize the vehicle for ten (10) days
  • do not possess any illegal drugs or non-prescription drugs or consume alcohol while on probation
  • completion of DUI school and any recommended treatment.

For Level I, the defendant must further complete:

  • fifty (50) hours of community service
  • install the ignition interlock alcohol monitoring device or any continuous alcohol monitoring device for three (3) months

For Level 2, the defendant must further complete:

  • Seventy-five (75) hours of community service
  • Install the ignition interlock alcohol monitoring device or any continuous alcohol monitoring device for six (6) months

For Level 3, the defendant must further complete:

  • fifty (50) hours of community service
  • wear a PharmCheck Drug of Abuse Patch (PharmChek® Drugs of Abuse Sweat Patch) for three (3) months with results provided to HCSO probation

The State Attorney’s Office will credit the defendant for the completion of sanctions already completed after the arrest but before the time of sentencing.

The Pros and Cons of Entering a DUI Diversion Program

Diversion programs have many pros and cons that must be carefully considered. The pros and cons depend on the facts of the case and the conditions of the program. The benefits of entering the program include having more predictable results and allowing first-time offenders an opportunity for a better resolution.

The participant in the diversion program avoids the stigma and collateral consequences that come along with a DUI conviction. The courts, prosecutors, and public defenders spend less time in complicated DUI motion hearings and trials and have more time to resolve other types of cases.

DUI Diversion Programs throughout Florida

These type of DUI diversion programs have worked in other parts of the state including:

  • Miami-Dade’s “Back on Track” Program
  • Orlando DUI Diversion Program
  • Palm Beach Pre-trial DUI Diversion Program

Like the diversion programs in those counties, it is expected that the diversion program in Hillsborough County will have strict eligibility requirements.

Many of the DUI diversion programs in Florida have extra requirements for a person arrested with a BAC of .08 or above. In some of these programs, a person with a particularly high BAC would be ineligible. Some diversion programs also make a person ineligible if they have an open container in the vehicle.

Additional Resources

Hillsborough considers diversion program for some DUI drivers – Read an article recently published in a Tampa newspaper on March 13, 2017, explaining the new plan by the new State Attorney, Andrew Warren, to help first-time offenders arrested for drunk driving.

DUI Attorney for Diversion Programs in Hillsborough County, FL

Call an experienced DUI defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm, P.A., to learn more about the creation of a DUI diversion program in Hillsborough County, FL, called Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR). Find out more about that program might impact the way your case can be resolved.

Find out more about the differences between diversion programs in Hillsborough County for the pre-trial misdemeanor intervention program (MIP) and the adult pre-arrest diversion (APAD) program for cases resolved at the courthouse in Tampa and Plant City, FL.

The success of the program will come down to the benefits it provides a participant who is considering just fighting the case in court. The length of time required to complete the program and the cost of the program will be two of the most important factors.

Call (813) 250-0500.

This article was last updated on Monday, February 26, 2018.

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