Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR)
If you were arrested for a first-time charge of DUI after March 1, 2018, you might be eligible for the new DUI diversion initiative in Hillsborough County called the “Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism” or “RIDR.” The RIDR program allows you to complete the typical sanctions for a first-time DUI plus it requires the installation of an ignition interlock device, SCRAM monitor, or PharmCheck Drugs of Abuse Patch.
In exchange for agreeing to complete these enhanced sanctions, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office will reduce the charge to “reckless driving.” The State Attorney’s Office will also agree to a “withhold of adjudication” so that you might be eligible to seal the criminal record after completing probation.
If you fail to complete the conditions, on the other hand, your probation officer can request a no-bond warrant for your arrest and a violation of probation (VOP) hearing. During the VOP hearing, the court can adjudicate you guilty of the underlying offense and impose any sentence it could have originally imposed for the reduced charge including up to 90 days in the Hillsborough County jail.
Keep in mind that you still need to DEMAND a Formal Review Hearing within 10 days of your arrest. Otherwise, the DUI suspension will remain on your driving record for the next seventy-five (75) years, even if complete RIDR and are eligible to seal the criminal history record.
If you fail to demand a Formal Review Hearing within 10 days of your arrest, then you have no chance of getting that administrative finding that you were DUI removed from your driving record, even if you successfully complete RIDR. Call us to find out why we ALWAYS recommend a formal review hearing to protect your driving record, especially after a first DUI that is eligible for RIDR.
Lawyers for RIDR DUI Diversion in Hillsborough County, FL
After an arrest for a first-time and non-aggravated DUI offense, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm to find out how the new diversion program might impact your case. For a first-time offender, this diversion program might provide a good way to avoid a DUI conviction.
Not everyone will be eligible for the DUI diversion program. Factors that make a person not eligible for the DUI diversion program include:
- a prior conviction;
- a BAC of .20 or above;
- a crash with property damage;
- a child passenger.
Even people who meet the initial screening criteria might be deemed ineligible because the State Attorney’s Office reserves the right to use other factors to exclude a person from participating. For example, if you were found in possession of an open container of alcohol, had a pet in the vehicle, or used abusive language with the arresting officer, then you might not be allowed to participate.
If you are eligible and allowed to participate, it is important to consider the pros and cons of entering the program based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Call us to find out why you still need an attorney to demand the DHSMV formal review hearing within 10 days of the arrest, get you a 42-day permit, and appear on your behalf for the hearing.
Contact a DUI defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, to learn more about the benefits of entering the RIDR DUI diversion program in Hillsborough County and important reasons why you might decide to opt-out.
How Does RIDR Work During the COVID-19 Crisis?
On a case by case basis, the State Attorney’s Office is making some small modifications which we call “RIDR Lite.” For example, the State Attorney’s Office will consider the option to buy out hours on a case-by-case basis if performing hours in person would be particularly problematic.
If you are looking for community service hours to complete RIDR, the State Attorney’s Office recently told us that these locations are accepting new volunteers: Fraternal Order of Police-Sherriff’s Lodge (FOP), Goodwill, Humane Society of Tampa Bay, and HCSO Criminal Registration Unit (CRU).
Other changes are needed. For example, in Level I or Level II, the State Attorney’s Office should provide more options for alcohol monitoring technologies in Tampa Bay. Instead of only allowing the SCRAM ankle bracelet, the State Attorney’s Office should allow the use of more innovative handheld portable systems to monitor alcohol consumption including:
- BI SL2 Breathalyzer
What is Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) Initiative?
Effective on March 1, 2018, RIDR is the new DUI diversion program that might allow you to avoid a DUI conviction if you complete all of the enhanced sanctions. The existence of the new diversion program was announced on February 19, 2018, by Rena J. Frazier, the Chief of Policy and Communication for the State Attorney’s Office in the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, FL.
The State Attorney’s Office invited criminal defense attorneys to an informational meeting on Monday, February 26, 2018, at the courthouse in downtown Tampa, FL, to discuss the program. At that meeting, the State Attorney’s Office released information about all of the eligibility requirements, procedural rules, and the enhanced sanctions that need to be completed in the program. More than 100 attorneys showed up to learn more about the new DUI diversion program.
The new DUI diversion program in Hillsborough County was named “Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism” and called “RIDR” for short. As the name implies, “RIDR” is aimed at reducing incidents of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs after requiring a first time offender to complete enhanced sanction in exchange for a dismissal or reduction of the DUI accusation.
By requiring extra sanctions, the goal is reducing the chances that a future DUI offense will occur. The publicity generated by the program will also help educate the public about all of the reasons to avoid a DUI accusation in the first place.
Benefits of Entering a DUI Diversion Program in Florida
According to the State Attorney’s Office, Hillsborough County has consistently been ranked the worse or near the worst in Florida for DUI crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Given the dangers of impaired driving and the importance of reducing recidivism to promote long-term community safety, the State Attorney’s Office decided to create the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (“RIDR”) initiative.
RIDR was intended to aggressively target and reduce impaired driving by imposing enhanced sanctions like alcohol monitoring devices and DUI education programs on individuals accused of a first-time, non-aggravated DUI offense.
The program also seeks to eliminate the incentive for offenders to refuse to provide a breath sample during the investigation, although this particular goal is greatly diminished by the fact that anyone who has a BAC of .20 or higher is not eligible for the diversion program. Additionally, the goal of Hillsborough County’s DUI diversion program is to promote consistency in the prosecution of DUI cases.
Keep in mind that if the case is not reduced and the defendant enters a plea to DUI or is convicted at trial, then adjudication is mandatory under § 316.656(1). See State v. Rowell, 669 So.2d 1089 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996). For this reason, the “withhold of adjudication” for the reckless driving charge is the most important part of the plea bargain.
Prior to the RIDR program, prosecutors were reluctant to reduce the case to reckless driving at all, and they were particularly reluctant to agree to a “withhold of adjudication,” especially in a breath test case with a BAC of 0.15 or above or a refusal case in which the driver looked obviously impaired. For this reason, from the perspective of a criminal defense attorney, RIDR was a big improvement over the previous policies of the State Attorney’s Office.
Eligibility Requirements to Qualify for the RIDR Initiative
On Monday, February 26, 2018, the State Attorney’s Office has announced the following eligibility requirements to qualify for the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (“RIDR”) initiative:
- the pending misdemeanor DUI charge does not involve a crash with property damage or personal injury, a BAC over .20, a child passenger in the vehicle
- the defendant does not have a prior record for:
- any prior DUI offense
- any alcohol-related reckless driving
- any charge of leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death
- any 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 before the date of this offense
- the defendant does not have any pending charges for:
- Driver’s License Suspension
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges
- Driving while license suspended (DWLS) with serious bodily injury or death charges
- Leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death charged
- Vehicular homicide charges
- The defendant is not currently being supervised in any Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program or on probation
The State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, FL, has also made it clear that it 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 SAO 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 the eligibility requirements.
Successfully Completing the RIDR Initiative
The State Attorney’s Office (SAO) will assign a sanction level to eligible cases under the following classification scheme:
- Level 1 RIDR – BAC at or below .15
- Level 2 RIDR – BAC above .15 or no breath sample (or a refusal to submit to a breath, blood or urine test)
- Level 3 RIDR – Drug-related DUIs
At the arraignment, the defendant must express their desire to waive speedy trial and agree to set the case for disposition approximately sixty (60) days out.
Before the next court date (often called the first disposition), the defendant must provide proof of completion of the Pre-Plea Sanctions to the SAO.
At the information meeting on February 26, 2018, many criminal defense attorneys expressed concerns that it would not be possible to complete all of the pre-plea sanctions within that time period and the State Attorney’s Office expressed a willingness to be somewhat flexible on that requirement during the transition phase of the initiative.
A question was asked about whether the BAC eligibility cap of .20 applied to both samples or the lowest sample. A prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office indicated that the eligibility requirement would look at the lower BAC level if one reading was below and another was above 0.20.
Other questions asked at the meeting or weeks that followed remained in flux, including:
- what would happen during plea negotiations with all of the pending DUI cases with an arrest date before March 1, 2018 (although they were not technically eligible for RIDR, many received a similar result);
- whether the attorney could file and litigate motions to suppress or dismiss prior to the client deciding whether to enter the RIDR program.
- whether enough ignition interlock devices or continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM) devices would be available given the sudden increase in demand;
- the impact of the possible 30 or 90-day administrative hard suspension on timing issues for completing the conditions both before or after the plea;
- how the “no alcohol” provision would be enforced;
- whether abstinence from alcohol and illegal drugs would be subject to random screening by breath or urine testing during the period of probation;
- whether automatic early termination of probation would be available;
- what would be reported to the DHSMV and what notations would remain on the driving record regarding the “ignition interlock device” if it were court-ordered as a condition of probation;
- how a misdemeanor or felony arrest for marijuana, concentrated forms of marijuana (oil or vape), or cannabis paraphernalia would impact eligibility;
- whether someone could enter RIDR to resolve the DUI charge and simultaneously enter drug court to resolve a felony possession of a controlled substance charge that occurred during the same incident;
- what would happen if someone violated the probation; and
- whether all of the judges were completely on board with the new program.
What are the Pre-Plea Sanctions Required to Enter RIDR?
During the first 60 days after the arraignment, the State Attorney’s Office expects the defendant to complete several pre-pre sanctions including:
- remaining crime-free;
- completing DUI school and recommended treatment;
- attending the MADD victim impact panel; and
- completing ten (10) community service hours.
For the Level 1 and Level 2 program, the defendant must also:
- 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 the 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 to the reduced charge of “reckless driving” with a “withhold of adjudication” and twelve months probation to complete the following special conditions:
- Standard court costs and conditions of probation
- Ten-day vehicle immobilization
- No possession or consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs or non-prescription drugs during probation
- Successful completion of DUI school and any recommended treatment
For Level 1, 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.
Other Florida Counties with DUI Diversion Programs
In addition to the Thirteenth (13th) Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, several other judicial circuits in Florida have diversion programs including:
- the Eighth (8th) Judicial Circuit;
- Alachua County
- Baker County
- Bradford County
- Gilchrist County
- Levy County
- Union County
- the Ninth (9th) Judicial Circuit
- Orange County
- Osceola County
- the Eleventh (11th) Judicial Circuit
- the Fifteenth (15th) Judicial Circuit
- Palm Beach
Criticisms of Florida’s DUI Deferred Prosecution Diversion Programs
According to “Florida Deferred Prosecution Diversion Programs: A Whitepaper,” published by The Honorable Karl Grube, Senior Judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Pinellas County, in May of 2018, for a meeting of the Florida Impaired Driving Coalition (FIDC), both charges and adjudications for DUI have decreased substantially over the few years.
The white paper points out the following statistics:
“In the past 6 years (from 2012 to 2017) the total number of DUI charges brought by law enforcement has steadily declined by 18% from 53,664 to 43,899.
In 2017, 9,765 fewer DUI citations were charged by law enforcement than in 2012. In the same time period, the adjudications of guilt (convictions), in those DUI cases, declined 36% from 36,961 adjudications to 23,319 in 2017.”
Id. at 9.
The white paper explains several criticisms that can be made against the DUI diversion programs:
- Lower insurance policy limits – By avoiding a DUI conviction, the defendant is able to avoid FR44 insurance which requires enhanced injury and death coverage for a period of 3 years in order to maintain driving privileges.
- Loss of revenue – By avoiding a DUI conviction, the defendant pays lower fines and is not subject to the maximum fine of $1,000 – $2,000 for a BAC over .15.
- Statutory Conflict – Florida Statute Section 316.656 prohibits the prosecutor from reducing a DUI with a BAC over .15 to reckless driving although these diversion program routinely violate that provision by not only reducing the charge to DUI but permitting the court to withhold adjudication (conviction) on the reduced charge of reckless driving.
- No Enhancements – By avoiding a DUI conviction the first time, the offender does NOT face the enhanced sanctions for a second DUI that would otherwise be mandatory under Florida law.
Lawyers for the RIDR DUI Diversion in Hillsborough County, FL
After an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Hillsborough County, FL, it is critical to find out more about how the diversion program might impact your DUI case. For someone accused of a first DUI in Hillsborough County, the RIDR program provides options to avoid a DUI conviction.
Keep in mind that even if you anticipate entering a diversion program, you still only have 10 days to demand a formal review hearing to protect your driver’s license from an administrative suspension.
Contact a DUI defense lawyer at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, to find out more about the eligibility requirements for entering the RIDR DUI diversion program in Hillsborough County.
Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case today.
This article was last updated on Thursday, September 3, 2020.