Written by attorney Jonathan Burton Blecher

Miami-Dade DUI "Back on Track Program" For First Offenders

Brought on by a significant number of DUI cases lost in court, and mounting overtime paid to police, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office rolled out a DUI diversion program targeted at first offenders.

The program will be monitored by two private not-for-profit companies, Court Options and The Advocate Program. Some first-time DUI offenders will be given the opportunity to avoid a DUI conviction by participating in the program. They will be required to attend substance abuse classes and counseling, perform community service, submit to drug testing, pay hefty fines and, in some cases, have an ignition interlock device installed on their car.

Offenders charged with causing accidents or having minors in the car will not be eligible for these programs. Offenders with any alcohol-related past may not be eligible. The approximate financial costs of the programs will range from $2,000 to $3,000. Upon successfully complete the program, the State will amend the DUI charge to Reckless Driving with a withheld adjudication of guilt. The criminal record is eligible for sealing, if there are no prior convictions or record sealing.

The bad news about the diversion program is that in order to take advantage of it, you are required to agree to a “statement of responsibility" to the DUI charge. You cannot challenge any aspect of the DUI case if you enter the program. If you don’t complete the terms of the diversion program, the State Attorney's Office will attempt to introduce the statement against you at trial.

Here is the criteria and requirements for the program tiers:

  • Defendant must not have alcohol-related driving history where disposition is either withhold of adjudication or a conviction.
  • Defendant may have up to one-prior, non-violent felony conviction, and up to two prior misdemeanor convictions.
  • Defendant may have completed no more than one misdemeanor diversion program and no more than one felony diversion program.
  • The defendant must not have been at fault on an accident, if one was involved as part of the incident.
  • There must not have been minor children in the vehicle at the time of the arrest.
  • Defendants who were arrested for DUI during the period of a suspended license will be denied admission into the program. If the suspension period has expired and the defendant is eligible to obtain a license but has not done so at the time of the DUI arrest, the defendant will still be eligible to participate.
  • Multiple speeding/traffic convictions during the previous 5 year period may disqualify

This program has been on-line since May, 2011. There are similar programs in Alachua County (Gainesville), Orange County (Orlando), Palm Beach County, Monroe County (The Keys), and Hillsborough County.

Conditions, Costs, Donations and Program Fees

Tier 1 Tier 2 Vehicle Actions 3-month ignition interlock ($$) Monetary Donation $300 $500 DUI School $280 $387, Treatment if Required, Cost of Prosecution $50, $50 Cost of Supervision $500 $650, Cost Recovery As requested ($) Community Service 40 hours or 60 hours Victim Impact Class (2 hours) Approximate Total $1,500-$2,000 $2,200-$3,000

I strongly advise people to consult with a qualified DUI defense lawyer before deciding what to do.

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