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 (if your DUI case was drug related).
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.
The State Attorney's Office has indicated that it expects about 20% of DUI cases to be eligible for the new diversion program.
If you successfully complete the probation and have no prior convictions, the withhold of adjudication might make you eligible to seal the criminal record. If you fail to complete the conditions, on the other hand, your probation officer can request a 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 including up to 90 days in the Hillsborough County jail.
The new DUI diversion program in Hillsborough County was named "Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism" or "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.
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. By entering the program, you can have adjudication withheld which might make you eligible to seal the entire record after your probation is terminated.
Not everyone will be eligible for the DUI diversion program. The main reason a person might be ineligible is because of a prior conviction, a BAC over .20, a crash with property damage, or a child passenger. Even people who meet the screening criteria might be deemed ineligible because the State Attorney's Office reserved the right to use its discretion to find that other factors not listed might exclude a person from participating.
If you are eligible, it is important to consider the pros and cons of entering the program based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. 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.
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 program.
Benefits of 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 diverison program is to promote consistency in the prosecution of DUI cases.
What are the 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:
- Florida 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.
The Process to 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 I - BAC at or below .15
- Level 2- BAC above .15 or no breath sample (or a refusal to submit to a breath, blood or urine test)
- Level 3- 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.
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 and for 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
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.
Call 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 Tuesday, February 27, 2018.