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Pretrial Diversion Program For DUI Offenses In Florida


Many of us have made mistakes that we wish we could go back and undo. But when it comes to criminal offenses, this is rarely possible. However, if a defendant has been arrested for DUI and their prior criminal record is clean, they may be able to benefit from Florida’s pretrial diversion program for DUI defendants. This option could save a defendant jail time, fines, and other penalties issued when convicted of DUI in Florida. There are several requirements for Florida’s pretrial diversion program, both for eligibility and completion. Read on to learn more about what DUI pretrial diversion can do and how to go about the process. If you're seeking defense representation against Florida DUI charges, don't hesitate to contact The Watson Firm, PLLC, at 850-607-2929. We can help set your expectations about what's to come and begin working on the best possible legal strategy, given the facts of your case. There is no risk in scheduling your initial consultation- learn more about your rights and what's at stake today.

What Are The Benefits of Pretrial Diversion?

There is no denying that a DUI conviction in Florida, whether a misdemeanor or felony, can damage someone’s prospects in life. A defendant convicted of DUI can be punished by time in jail (or prison,) fines, community service, drug and alcohol screening and counseling, probation, and more. Additionally, without expungement, this conviction will remain on the defendant’s record for life. Someone convicted of a DUI could have a harder time getting a job, finding housing, and even being approved for adoption and other applications. A DUI conviction can also cause a driver’s auto insurance rates to skyrocket. This is because the driver will need to use SR-22, or high-risk, auto insurance, which can often be double or more the price of a standard auto insurance policy. While someone who completes pretrial diversion for a Florida DUI will still face penalties like fines, community service, and DUI school, the benefit is that the conviction will not remain on that person’s record.

What Are The Eligibility Requirements For DUI Pretrial Diversion In Florida?

If a DUI defendant has never previously been arrested and charged with a crime, they will qualify for Florida’s DUI pretrial diversion program. However, a previous arrest won’t necessarily disqualify someone from Florida’s pretrial diversion option for DUI defendants. A defendant can qualify for pretrial diversion for DUI in Florida if they have no more than 2 misdemeanor convictions. A felony conviction will disqualify a defendant from DUI pretrial diversion. Additionally, a defendant will only qualify for pretrial diversion if they have completed no more than one previous deferred prosecution program for criminal charges. If you’ve been arrested for DUI and you’re unsure if you qualify for Florida's pretrial diversion program, the best way to find out is by speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Pretrial Diversion Costs And Requirements

There are two tiers of DUI pretrial diversion in Florida. Higher BAL DUIs will be required to complete Tier II pretrial diversion.

Tier I

  • Price: $500
  • DUI School
  • Victim Impact Class
  • 10-day vehicle impoundment
  • Law enforcement investigative costs
  • Random urine screens

Tier II

  • Price: $1,000
  • DUI School
  • 6-month mandatory ignition interlock device
  • Law enforcement investigative costs
  • Random urine screens

Pretrial Diversion Versus Fighting The Charges

Depending on a defendant’s circumstances, pretrial diversion could sound like a great deal to avoid having a conviction on their record. Others may be hesitant to accept any penalties for an arrest or charge they find unfair. If someone has strong evidence in their defense, submitting to pretrial diversion may not be an ideal situation.

There are a variety of things a defendant can look for in the evidence of their case when checking for defenses that may be preferable to pretrial diversion. Defendants are afforded several constitutional rights that, when violated, may provide a defense against DUI charges in every state, including Florida. There could have been issues with how field sobriety testing was conducted or how breath or chemical testing was conducted, stored, transferred, etc. While pretrial diversion is highly beneficial to many first-time DUI offenders in Florida, it could be a downgrade to fighting the charges in some circumstances. For example, some medical conditions can cause a false reading on a breathalyzer test. Someone arrested for DUI based on inaccurate breathalyzer testing may be better off fighting the DUI charges rather than accepting the pretrial diversion program. These charges may be little more than a misunderstanding, and scientific evidence can prove that the defendant wasn’t intoxicated at the time of the arrest. With a solid defense like this available, a defendant may want to consider turning down the pretrial diversion program option. If you are facing DUI charges in Florida and need to make this type of decision, call for your free consultation at 850-607-2929.

Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers To Handle DUI Charges With Confidence And Efficiency

Ideally, a defense against DUI charges will get your charges reduced or dropped expediently. But the justice system doesn’t always work this way. Public defenders are known for being overstressed and overworked, as well as underpaid. Additionally, DUIs are usually the first assignment for brand new public defender hires. They simply may not have the time or experience offered by other defense options. In the Pensacola area, there are countless options in who to hire as a private defense attorney against Florida DUI charges. We hope you’ll consider us as one of your top options because of the high level of legal service we provide.

Even someone who qualifies for pretrial diversion can benefit from experienced legal representation when facing DUI charges. Confidence in your DUI lawyer means more confidence- and less stress- throughout the entire process. This can also give you more clarity when making important decisions that can affect your case’s outcome. Don’t hesitate after a Florida DUI arrest to start making your legal plan. Call The Watson Firm, PLLC, to schedule your free consultation at 850-607-2929 or contact us online.