Guide to Hillsborough County RIDR Program
- June 14th, 2019
- Bruce Denson
- Comments Off on Guide to Hillsborough County RIDR Program
With the ever-increasing rates for drunk drivers in Hillsborough County and consistently being ranked near the worst in Florida for DUI crashes, the appointed 2016 State Attorney General decided to set some new guidelines with the RIDR program being introduced into Florida courts in 2018 after Andrew Warren took office.
Given the dangers of DUI and impaired driving along with the importance of reducing recidivism, the new RIDR program was put into place as 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 lesser charges and substantial long-term savings.
The RIDR program is 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.
What is the RIDR Program?
The RIDR Program is a Florida diversion program for “Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism,” which 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 the Southwest Florida region.
This Florida diversion program works to provide enhanced sanctions for first-time DUI offenders. 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.
Benefits of the RIDR Program
The criminal justice system has been using diversion programs to rehabilitate criminal offenses for years. But 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.
Clearing DUI Charges
This DUI diversion program replaces the typical charges against a DUI conviction so that first-time offenders don’t have a criminal record, 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 child care. The benefit of this program in waiving criminal charges helps to negate these problems from ever arising.
Do I Qualify for RIDR?
To qualify for this Florida diversion program, certain prerequisites must be met, including:
- No minors were in the car when the DUI was issued
- BAC was less than 0.20
- DUI did not result in injury or death
- No property damages
- No prior alcohol related driving offenses (DUI, previous DUI diversion program, or any other form of reckless driving within the past five years)
- No pending matters such as DUI, vehicular homicide, probation, etc.
- Not currently participating in Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program
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 attorney, as certain cases may be accepted under the right circumstances. At The Denson Firm, we understand you likely 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.
How Do I Start?
At the start of the RIDR, the SAO will assign you a level. These levels are primarily driven by your BAC (breath alcohol) levels and the scene of the 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.
- Level 1: BAC is at 0.15 or below.
- Level 2: BAC is above 0.15 or when no breath sample was provided (or in a BAC refusal case)
- Level 3: Drug-related DUI
At the time of arraignment in which the court reads the charges against you, you’ll be required to waive the right to a speedy trial if you’re focused 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.
Under the Pre-Plea Sanctions, you agree to:
- Remain crime-free for probationary 60 days
- Complete DUI School
- MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) victim panel
- Undergo an alcohol evaluation and begin treatment if applicable
- Complete ten or more hours of community service
Installing an Ignition Interlock Device
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.
Wearing A Patch
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:
- Tests sweat for: Cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, PCP, and marijuana.
- Continuous monitoring: 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, the patch retains drugs used at any time during its wear period until the patch is removed, up to 7 days later.
- Tamper-Evident: The adhesive plastic film cannot be reapplied once removed, and a unique serial number prevents fraud and tampering.
- Cannot be diluted: The sweat patch specimen cannot be diluted as can a standard urine specimen.
- Deterrent to additional drug use: Because the patch is a visible sign of continuous drug monitoring, it can act as a powerful deterrent to additional drug use and may help reduce the effects of peer pressure.
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.
Rehabilitation and Schooling
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.
What Happens Once I Qualify?
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:
- 50 hours of community service.
- Installation the ignition interlock alcohol monitoring device for three additional months.
- 75 hours of community service.
- Install the ignition interlock alcohol monitoring device for six additional months.
- 50 hours of community service.
- Wear a PharmChek Drug of Abuse Patch (PharmChek® Drugs of Abuse Sweat Patch) for three months with results provided to HCSO probation.
Benefits of Hiring A DUI Attorney
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.
An Attorney Can Save You Money
A DUI is going to cost you 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 range anywhere from $10,000. You’ll have to:
- Pay to reinstate your driver’s license.
- Pay administrative fees.
- Attend and pay for DUI school referred by the courts.
- Deal with vehicle impoundment.
- Pay jail or probation fees.
- Pay interlock device fees
- Pay for elevated insurance.
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).
Complete the Questionnaire
If you’ve been arrested and received the RIDR Info Sheet, fill out this questionnaire to find out if you’re a candidate for the RIDR Program for the Hillsborough County Diversion program. If you qualify and decided to 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 charged with a DUI, the prospect of losing your 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 defer prosecution and avoid a permanent record.
Contact The Denson Firm if you’re interested in being considered for the RIDR Program. We offer a free, confidential consultation to discuss whether you may qualify.