With the ever-increasing rates for drunk drivers in Hillsborough County and consistently being ranked near the worst in Florida for DUI crashes, the Hillsborough County State Attorney decided to take a different approach. Andrew Warren introduced the RIDR program in 2018, and it may be of great benefit to you if you qualify.
Given the dangers of impaired driving and the importance of promoting long-term community safety, the new RIDR program was put into place. It is a DUI diversion program for people who are charged with driving under the influence. The RIDR program is potentially beneficial for first-time DUI offenders as it results in dramatically fewer charges and substantial long-term savings. The RIDR program may be a perfect solution for first-time DUI offenders with no other criminal or arrest records. Having a DUI on your record can truly disrupt your life. With this new program, defendants will have to jump through many hoops but ultimately may dismiss a criminal record altogether.
The RIDR Program is a Florida diversion program for "Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism”. It aims to resolve DUI charges as the lesser charge of Reckless Driving if several conditions are met. The RIDR program was enacted in Hillsborough County as of March 1st, 2018, not long after Andrew Warren was elected as the new State Attorney in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County. Mr. Warren’s goal was to minimize the overwhelming statistics and frequency of drunk or impaired driving in Hillsborough County.
This Florida diversion program works by imposing enhanced sanctions for first-time DUI offenders in exchange for reducing the charge and avoiding a conviction. Generally, you will be sentenced to many of the penalties that DUI sentences carry. However, by proactively engaging in the process, you can avoid a DUI conviction.
The criminal justice system has been using diversion programs to rehabilitate criminal offenses for years. However programs such as Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion (APAD) and the Misdemeanor Intervention Program (MIP) specifically excluded DUI charges. Essentially, diversion programs allow for the resolution of criminal cases in a way that avoids a conviction and reduces the charge.
A Florida diversion program like RIDR is an alternative route that targets behavior that caused the criminal act. The RIDR program imposes conditions like ignition interlocks, DUI school, and community service, designed to make drivers think twice about ever drinking and driving again.
This DUI diversion program allows resolution of the charges of Reckless Driving with a Withhold of Adjudication for first-time offenders. This is a huge benefit because you won’t have a criminal conviction, which can be severely damaging to your everyday life. DUI criminal charges can lead to the loss of your job, difficulty in obtaining a new job, and can even cause disputes regarding adequate childcare.
To qualify for this Florida diversion program, certain pre-requisites must be met, including:
If you’re looking into the DUI diversion program, keep in mind that each case is handled individually. Other circumstances during or after the event may influence the decision on the matter, and the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) will decide who is eligible to participate in the RIDR Program. The state attorney particularly looks at how you treated the officer on the night of your arrest. If you were rude or disrespectful, it may take a special approach to qualify you for the RIDR program.
Even if you think you may not be eligible, it’s recommended you elicit the help of an experienced law attorney, as certain cases may be accepted under the right circumstances. At The Denson Firm, we understand you want to know what the potential consequences are for a drunk driving conviction and your options. Florida laws are complex and different factors can impact the severity of your potential consequences. But we can help.
At the start of the RIDR program, the SAO will assign you a level. These levels are primarily driven by your BAC (breath alcohol) levels at your arrest. The facts will determine if you’re eligible and at what level you’ll be sentenced at. If you refuse to take the breath test at the time of your arrest, you’ll automatically be sentenced to a Level 2.
At the time of arraignment, in which the court reads the charges against you, you’ll be required to waive the right for a speedy trial if you’re trying to get on the DUI diversion program. Instead, a disposition date will be set for approximately 60 days out. During these 60 days, you’ll be required to complete a list of pre-plea sanctions to be turned in to the SAO before your scheduled deposition. If you hire an attorney, you will not need to attend the Arraignment, and we can handle the details of getting you enrolled in the program.
Under the Pre-Plea Sanctions, you agree to:
If you’re at Levels 1 or 2, you’ll also be required to install an ignition interlock alcohol monitoring device into your vehicle and provide proof of installation to the courts.
As a Level 3 DUI offender, you must further not possess or consume illegal or non-prescribed drugs or alcohol.
It’s also required that you use a PharmChek Drugs of Abuse Patch, which acts as a deterrent to continued drug use. It provides an innovative approach to the detection of drugs in sweat and is an economical alternative to urine testing. The patch is worn on the skin for up to 10 days or longer and uses sweat as the specimen source.
The PharmChek Drugs of Abuse Patch provides distinct advantages in testing for the state:
If you accept the RIDR Program, you’ll have to complete community service hours. You must complete 10 hours to get accepted into the program.
To enter into the RIDR Program, you’ll have to take part in DUI school, complete an alcohol evaluation, and start any recommended treatment. This education is to further encourage against drinking and driving and help people with a problem drinking. Everyone must go to DUI school and be evaluated, but not everyone is sent to treatment.
If you’re accepted into the RIDR program, you’ll be offered a plea to the reduced charge of Reckless Driving, and you will receive a withhold of adjudication. This may be your only court hearing, and as your attorney, we make sure it goes smoothly. The RIDR program will also include 12 months of probation, and you must pay court costs. Additional sanctions vary depending on your designated level:
There are a slew of benefits that hiring an attorney will provide you. Admission to the DUI diversion program is controlled exclusively by the state attorney, and we can evaluate your case and put you in the best position to be admitted to the RIDR program. Your attorney works by your side to represent you in the best light, handling all the paperwork and court scheduling so all the facts are in place to represent your case.
Here at The Denson Firm, we work tirelessly to defend you by investigating all aspects of your DUI arrest. We look at all angles to ensure you’re presented with the options possible. Time is of the essence during these cases, and we make sure that all deadlines are met and take immediate steps to ensure your eligibility.
A DUI is going to be expensive one way or another, but hiring an attorney can save you money in the long run if your case is negotiated correctly. We can help you avoid or minimize many of the costs. First-time DUI fines and costs can quickly run up to $10,000. You’ll have to:
Hiring an attorney, make sure you keep all the penalties, including the financial penalties, at a minimum. We also make sure you make your payments on time to avoid license suspensions (and other additional costs.
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Tampa, contact our office to find out if you’re a candidate for the RIDR Program for the Hillsborough County Diversion program. If you qualify and you hire The Denson Firm, you’ll receive a coupon for a discounted ignition interlock device, and your attorney will fill you in on the details during consultation.
We understand the fear and anxiety that individuals are charged with a DUI, the prospect of losing their freedom, and the fear of the unknown. Our goal is to alleviate as many of these fears as possible and provide you with information about the process so you know what to expect. We’re well-versed in many available diversion programs for first-time offenders that could possibly help you avoid a permanent record.
Contact one of our attorneys in St. Petersburg, Florida, if you’re interested in being considered for the RIDR Program. Get a free, personal, and confidential consultation to discuss whether you may qualify.