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Understanding the DUI Deferred Prosecution Alternative in Gainesville, Florida
A DUI deferred prosecution program or other DUI diversion alternative does not exist in many jurisdictions in Florida. Fortunately, in Gainesville, Florida, and the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida (which includes Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union counties) there is DUI deferred prosecution alternative available for some individuals charged with Driving Under the Influence. This article will focus on the DUI deferred prosecution program as it currently exists in the Gainesville, Florida area. It should be understood that the availability and requirements of a DUI diversion alternative may vary greatly between each of Florida’s twenty judicial circuits. For detailed information about DUI prosecutions in other Florida circuits, one should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer whose practice is focused in the judicial circuit where the DUI is alleged to have occurred.
What is a DUI Deferred Prosecution Agreement?
A DUI deferred prosecution agreement is a contract between the person charged with a crime, the criminal defense attorney representing that person and the prosecuting attorney that results in the DUI case being diverted from the traditional criminal “justice” system. The terms of the agreement are favorable to the person charged and can result in the person avoiding a DUI conviction. If a person fails to complete the terms of the agreement, the criminal prosecution is re-initiated on the DUI charge.
Who is Eligible to Participate in DUI the Deferred Prosecution Program?
Entry into the DUI deferred prosecution program is controlled by the prosecuting attorney and is completely discretionary. There is no guarantee that any particular DUI case will be accepted into the program as the eligibility requirements allow the prosecutor to pick and choose individuals that are most likely to succeed and, more importantly, not re-offend by committing a new DUI. In general, the basic criteria for consideration for entry into a DUI deferred prosecution agreement are as follows:
• no multi-vehicle accidents or damage to property of others
• no prior criminal history; dismissed cases may disqualify
• no more than 5 prior moving traffic violations within prior 10 years
• no more than one moving traffic violation within prior one year
• no blood alcohol levels above .20
• no “inappropriate behavior” or “belligerence” exhibited to officer
• no children in the vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest
• no controlled substances in the vehicle or on the defendant
What are the Terms and Conditions Required in a DUI Deferred Prosecution Agreement?
The terms and conditions of the DUI diversion program are fairly predictable if entry into the program is permitted. The following terms and conditions most be satisfactorily completed during an eighteen (18) month deferment of prosecution:
• $500 charitable donation to a specified charity
• 50 hours community service
• Surrender license for 14 days if license not already suspended
• Complete DUI school, including the alcohol evaluation component
• Complete alcohol treatment if recommended by DUI school
• Pay $50 cost of prosecution
There is no probation or probation supervisor during the deferment period. Successful completion of the DUI diversion program does not result in a complete dismissal of all charges, but instead results in the prosecutor permitting a plea to the lesser offense of Reckless Driving at the end of the eighteen month deferment. The DUI charge is dismissed at the time of entry of a no contest plea to Reckless Driving. No further supervision is required other than payment of the mandatory minimum costs and fine for the Reckless Driving offense. View the typical form of a DUI deferred prosecution agreement here.
Does One Need a Criminal Defense Attorney to Obtain Entry Into the DUI Diversion Program?
In theory an unrepresented person might be able to refer him or herself to be considered for the program, but the this approach has many pitfalls. As indicated above, entry into the program is not guaranteed and is highly discretionary. There are important legal events, such as requesting and participating in a “formal review” hearing at the Florida Division of Drivers License that require the assistance of an attorney experienced in DUI defense. See DUI/DWI defense issues. If a formal review hearing is not requested, one waives the right to this important procedure that can result in an attorney obtaining important information to successfully defend against the DUI charge. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be gathering information and actively preparing to defend your case in Court prior to the prosecutor making a decision about entry into the DUI diversion program. Since the prosecutorial review process is highly discretionary (What is “inappropriate behavior”?) and many individuals do not qualify for the program, it is important to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who practices law in Gainesville, Florida, to actively gather information and defend your case, while also vigorously seeking one’s admission into the DUI deferred prosecution program.