Its not a law.
Its a creation of the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office. It is a diversionary program called "Back on Track". Some other counties have their own such programs for DUI, others do not.
It is essentially like any other diversionary program: Meaning that if this is your first offense and if you meet the criteria then it is almost certain that you will be eligible for "BOT".
All diversion programs have the same goal: They are designed to make you think twice about future criminality by way of making you jump through a series of proverbial hoops during a period of supervision, successful completion of which results in a dismissal. The program is owned and operated by the State Attorney's Office and they have absolute and unequivocal discretion as to whether to admit you, keep you or "graduate" you from their program.
Knowing that, the question now is whether or not diversion is right for you. There may or may not be viable defenses to the charges, affirmative or otherwise, or there may be factual, legal, procedural or substantive mechanisms by which to attack and beat the charges without going through diversion.
The best way for you to get competent advise is going to be to have a face-to-face meeting with a criminal defense lawyer who can follow-up on your information with questions of her/his own, as well as review the police reports and citations and then offer an informed opinion. And this especially holds true in regard to DUIs. (In Miami, as a condition to entering BOT, you must sign an irrefutable confession. Read my Legal Guide and you'll get the idea. Then talk to an experienced lawyer and make an informed and prudent decision.)
Please take a look at my Avvo Legal Guide on diversion in Florida. It contains a great deal of information on the subject and should be helpful to you.
I hope that this has been helpful and wish you the best of luck!
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Some counties have diversion programs for which you may be eligible. The goal of those programs is to reintegrate defendants back into society with less penalty; however, not everyone will be eligible and no diversion program is a calk-walk. There will still be State administrative penalties that you must address with the DHSMV.
I only practice in the areas of personal injury, federal civil rights, and criminal law. I will not answer inquiries about legal representation in other areas of law, so please do not call me about matters outside my areas of practice. Furthermore, my answers on Avvo do not create an attorney-client relationship. Avvo is not designed for the type of legal analysis I personally require to accept a case. You should always seek a consultation with a licensed attorney who practices in the specific area of law who can fully review the facts of your case..
There are two things that may be at play here and I am not sure what exactly it is you are referring to. The first thing you may be referring to is the Back on Track Program, which was adopted in Miami-Dade County a couple of years ago. While a referral to the program is at the discretion of the state attorney's office, it is a resolution that may be available to a first-time offender absent certain aggravating factors such as an accident, high breath reading, priors, etc. Even if you are initially denied a referral into the program, there may exist the possibility to get a referral later on in the case should there be evidentiary issues with the state's ability to prove your guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Furthermore, you should always retain the services of an attorney even if you feel you will be eligible for the Back on Track Program as 1). the referral is not automatic, 2). entering the program requires you to sign an admission of guilt/statement of responsibility that may later be introduced against you at trial should you be "bounced out" from the program for any reason whatsoever, 3). an attorney can analyze your case in order to inform you of any possible defenses and provide counsel on the best resolution for you, and 4). an attorney can guide you and help make sure you successfully complete the program without incident. Upon completion of the program and assuming there are no other issues that warrant a "bounce out" the state will amend your charge to a reckless driving with a withhold of adjudication, meaning you are not convicted of the crime and may be eligible for record sealing.
The other possible option that you may be referring to is what changed in July 2013 and that is Eligibility Review of your driving privilege and your administrative license suspension through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Under this provision, you may waive a formal review hearing before the DHSMV hearing officer in order to petition for eligibility review so that you may receive a hardship license almost immediately. By doing so you forfeit the right to challenge the administrative suspension of your driver's license which can have consequences in the future should your license be suspended again for driving with an unlawful breath alcohol level (DUBAL) or refusal to submit to a breath/blood/urine test. The benefit is that you will forego the formal review hearing process and be able to drive immediately, if you are eligible, without having to endure the 30 or 90-day "hard suspension" that results from being unsuccessful in challenging the suspension. Again it is best to consult with an attorney before opting for eligibility review with the DHSMV.
Most DUI lawyers in Miami will offer free consultations and it is wise to interview them to see if you feel comfortable with them handling your DUI case in both the criminal and administrative forums.
The Back on Track Program in Miami followed in the footsteps of two programs in Alachua County (Gainesville) and Orange County (Orlando) and is designed to give first-time DUI offenders a "safety valve" out of a permanent criminal record of conviction.
The program conditions are similar to those for a first offense DUI, with some additions and some subtractions. The key difference is that at the end of the program term, your DUI charge will be reduced to reckless driving and, if you are otherwise eligible, will permit you to apply to have the judicial record of the arrest sealed by a court.
The program does not require a license suspension, as it's not a court-ordered program (it's sponsored by the State Attorney's Office). However, be mindful that you likely face an administrative suspension from DHSMV if you blew over .08% BrAC or refused the breath/blood/urine test.
Follow the link below for the most up to date and current conditions for the program, as they have been modified in the past few weeks. The most recent addition is the installation of an ignition interlock device.
You should speak with an attorney familiar with the program about your options and eligibility before deciding how to proceed.
Every case and situation is different and my answers will vary greatly depending on the specific facts of each one. My answers are not to be considered complete answers to each question and do not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Always seek the advice if your own attorney. I am licensed only in the State of Florida and in federal courts. Florida Bar #337821, admitted 1982.
There is no new law that gives you a free pass on a DUI case. You must be referring to BOT, for back on track, a program from the Miami Dade state attorneys office. Most other areas do not have any kind of diversion for DUI cases, with the exception of Gainesville and Orlando.
First of all, you need to be ready to pay lots and lots of money in donations, fines, and other things that are required such as wearing an alcohol detection bracelet for a while, installing an interlock device on your car and attending the full-fledged DUI school plus treatment if they require you too. All of this comes at your own expense and be prepared to pay $3000 to $4000 before the program has ended.
If you do not have the money, you will not successfully complete the program and you will be back in square one facing DUI criminal penalties.
Secondly, you will not get a total pass either, if you are eligible for BOT, you will spend six months to one year earning a change in the charges to a "reckless driving" with no points. The criminal offense will still appear in your record.
This is not a dismissal and reckless driving is still a criminal offense. The program is not available to those who have additional charges such as reckless driving, leaving the scene, or any kind of accident attached to the first offense DUI. It is definitely not available to anyone who has had a previous DUI arrest.
People who bank on maybe being eligible for the BOT, usually don't see an attorney early enough to fight and win the administrative suspension of your license and are at a significant disadvantage if they wish for an attorney to fight their case later.
You must see a lawyer within 10 days in order to file for a formal review and have any kind of a chance at beating your license suspension for DUI or refusal and clearing that from your record.
Also, to accept BOT, you must sign and make an admission of guilt under oath. You must stand in front of the judge and agree that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, in the state of Florida on the date you were arrested. If you do not later complete or cannot pay the terms of the BOT, your DUI case will be back on the calendar and the state will be seeking jail as well all of the other mandatory penalties that a DUI carries, later. The only problem is that you have already signed or testified to a complete admission of guilt, making it harder for your attorney to defend you at a later date.
The only way to get your DUI dismissed, nolle prossed or be found not guilty, is by pleading not guilty, having your case set for trial and fighting it.
Your chances of beating your DUI are greatly improved if you retain an experienced and competent DUI criminal defense attorney. There is no substitute for that.
A good DUI attorney will fully investigate and prepare a defense with an eye towards trying to clear you of a criminal record, instead of guaranteeing you a reckless driving after paying numerous fines donations and attending many programs.
Your attorney can be instrumental as well in negotiating your BOT, if all else fails and can later assist you in expungement your record if the case was dismissed or sealing your record if it was reduced to a lesser charge and adjudication was withheld.
For all of these reasons, I never recommend that anyone go in to court with the mentality of pleading guilty or no contest to anything or expecting that a program will save you.
The only way to assure you have done everything to attempt a complete victory is by seeing a well seasoned criminal defense lawyer within 10 days of your arrest or at least prior to your first court date and discussing all of your options. Then you can make an informed decision about what will happen in your future. That's my two cents. I wish you the best of luck in your decision.
The information provided is not legal advice from Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes, or the Ticket Law Center in Miami, Florida. There is no attorney client privilege created in this communication. Do not send questions which are confidential in nature by either this venue or via email. Personal questions should be asked in person or via telephonic conference only. You should only ask theoretical questions of a general nature.
Florida does not have a new state law as you describe; however, in Monroe County, Florida, the State Attorney just implemented "Back on Track" program which if you meet certain requirements, allows you to avoid a DUI conviction.
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