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Florida DUI Diversion Programs: Do You Qualify?

Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin  May 9, 2024

If you are facing a DUI charge, it might feel like the walls are closing in on you. The state of Florida takes drunk driving cases very seriously, and for good reason.  

According to the CDC, between 2009 and 2018, there were 7,573 deaths from accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Penalties for a DUI conviction can range from temporary license suspension to incarceration and can have long-term effects on your driving privileges, insurance rates, employment opportunities, and reputation.  

Regardless of your situation, however, you do have options that can help resolve your case and mitigate the damage. Whether you have several priors, or this is your first offense, your best strategy is to secure strong legal counsel.

And, if you are a first-time offender, then you may have the opportunity to participate in a DUI diversion program, which can lead to the expungement of the charge from your record. To find out if you are eligible for a diversion program, contact a trusted criminal defense attorney to help build your DUI defense strategy.  

At Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin, we provide professional criminal defense counsel for individuals facing DUI charges in Cocoa, Florida, and throughout Brevard County. We also serve people in neighboring areas such as Titusville, Melbourne, and Palm Bay with trusted legal counsel. If you’re in the area, reach out today for guidance.   

What Are DUI Diversion Programs? 

DUI diversion programs allow a judge to suspend or postpone your case for a statutory period and refer you to an intervention program or mental health treatment facility. After completion of a diversion program, you may qualify for expungement of the DUI charge from your record.  

A DUI diversion program in Florida will include DUI School, a Victim Impact Class, either a 10-day vehicle impoundment or a 6-month mandatory ignition interlock device, payment of law enforcement investigative costs, and submitting to random urine screens.  

What to expect in a trial diversion program: 

  • Drug or DUI classes: These classes will highlight the effects of alcohol and drugs on your driving ability.  

  • Urine testing: You will be required to submit to random urinalysis and drug testing. If you test positive for drugs or alcohol during diversion, it could result in dismissal from the program and jail time. 

  • Ignition interlock device: You will be required to have a breathalyzer-type device installed on your car that prevents it from starting unless you blow a .08% blood-alcohol content (BAC) or lower. 

  • Court costs and fees: You must pay all court costs and fees and potentially the cost of DUI classes as well.  

Florida DUI Diversion Program Requirements

In order to qualify for a pretrial diversion program in Florida, you must not have any prior alcohol-related driving offenses on your record, and no other misdemeanor offenses or deferred prosecutions.  

If you do not have a prior criminal record and there are no aggravating factors in your case (such as injury to property, another person, or a weapon or child present in the vehicle), then your chances of qualification are strong. The district attorney's office must refer you for diversion in order to be considered. 

According to the Florida Safety Council, applicants to the DUI diversion program must meet the following criteria in order to qualify for participation: 

  • You must be a legal resident in the United States. 

  • You must receive approval from the Office of the State Attorney. 

  • You must be facing a Misdemeanor/DUI charge only.  

  • There must not be any prior sentence, conviction or dismissal for a similar charge on your record, and no more than one prior misdemeanor sentence for a dissimilar offense, no prior deferred prosecution/diversion programs, no prior juvenile programs, and no prior felony sentences. 

  • You cannot have any prior alcohol-related driving offenses on your record. 

How Much Does a Diversion Program Cost in Florida?

The cost of a DUI Trial Diversion program in Florida will vary, depending on your case. Enrollment in the Tier I DUI Diversion program requires a monetary contribution of up to $500, while the Tier II program requires up to $1000. Higher BAC DUIs will be referred to Tier II, which costs more and requires the installation of a 6-month ignition interlock device on your vehicle.  

This initial payment does not include the court costs, fees or other costs associated with law enforcement’s investigation, which you must pay to avoid incarceration.  

While the upfront costs may seem daunting, completing a DUI diversion program successfully can lead to the dismissal or reduction of DUI charges, ultimately saving you money in the long run. 

Can a First-Time DUI Be Dismissed?

One of the primary benefits of participating in a DUI diversion program is the potential for the dismissal or reduction of DUI charges upon completion of the program.  

By demonstrating a commitment to rehabilitation and accountability, you may be able to persuade the judge to dismiss or reduce your DUI charges, sparing you from the long-term consequences of a criminal conviction.  

Contact Us for Guidance

If you are facing DUI charges in Brevard County, Florida, don't face them alone. At Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin, we go above and beyond to protect our clients’ right to a fair defense. Protect your rights by getting the right legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney today, and call to schedule a consultation with our attorneys.