In the coming weeks a new program will be rolling out in Miami-Dade. “Back on Track” is designed to give first-time DUI offenders a second chance. It’s a diversion program that will allow those with a otherwise clean record to avoid a conviction while saving the local courts some time and money.
According to the Miami Herald, although the program may at first seem to benefit only the offenders, it was created in part to hold more people accountable for drunk driving.
Prosecutors point out that many cases “fall apart” before they make it to trial. This, for them, means that some people who might actually be guilty of drunk driving are getting off without penalties. By offering them a diversion program instead some will jump at the chance to avoid the risk of losing at trial and therefore be held accountable for the DUI regardless.
“Back on Track” will require participants to complete alcohol education classes, attend treatment, and pay a fine. If they satisfy these requirements the charges against them will be reduced to reckless driving. If they don’t hold up their end of the agreement, they can be prosecuted.
Participants must have had a valid driver’s license at the time of their arrest. The arrest also cannot have included an accident or another crime and no child can be present in the vehicle at the time of the arrest. Their record must be relatively clean with no reckless driving and other DUI charges.
People who are arrested and have a blood alcohol content of more than .159 (.08 is the legal limit) can still participate, though they will have stricter rules including the installation of an ignition interlock device.
Officials are hoping the new program will reduce backlog of DUI cases in the Miami-Dade courthouse. Last year there were 5,639 DUI cases filed in the county, even more were filed in 2009.
The police are staying quiet about the program until they see how it pans out. They say it looks nice “on paper” but some wonder if it gives dangerous drivers a free pass, something not everyone believes they should have.
The bottom line is that people accused of drunk driving are usually very normal people. People like you or I, people like your neighbor or boss. Often their first DUI is their last DUI and giving them a chance to avoid the criminal conviction is a good move.
There are other similar diversion programs across the state. Whether or not you qualify for such a program depends on the jurisdiction in which you are charged and the facts of your case. If you are facing DUI charges and curious about your options, contact our offices today for a free consultation.