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"Back On Track" Eligibility And Program Requirements

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For a little more than one year now, Miami-Dade County has had a "Back On Track" DUI diversion program for first-time DUI offenders. I have had clients who have entered the program and completed it. Here's what I can tell you about it.

If you're eligible and a charge of DUI can be proven against you (meaning that sufficient evidence exists insofar that a jury trial is ill advised), then it may be in your best interest to enter into the program.

The program length is not the same for everyone. There are two "tiers" of the program. The first tier is for people who consented to a breath test and blew a .15 or lower. These people are rewarded for submitting to a breath test and only have to complete a 6-month program.

The second tier is for .15 readings or higher or refusals. This program is for 1 year.

Tier 1 participants must submit to the following:

1) 10-day vehicle impound (immobilization)

2) $300 donation

3) 40 hours of community service

4) DUI evaluation and school (about 12 hours)

5) MADD's Victim Impact Panel

6) Incur approximately $1,500 to $2,000 in costs

Tier 2 participants must submit to the following:

1) 6-month ignition interlock device

2) $500 donation

3) 60 hours of community service

4) DUI evaluation and school (about 12 hours)

5) MADD's Victim Impact Panel

7) Incur approximately $2,200 - $3,000 in costs

The good news about the program is that there is no statutory driver's license suspension imposed by the court. That is because you are not pleading guilty to a DUI charge, so the court does not impose one.

However, since you have been arrested and charged with DUI, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) can still impose an administrative suspension. For a first DUI, that suspension is 6 months for a breath reading, 1 year for a refusal.

However, your DUI attorney may still be able to invalidate the suspension through a DHSMV Administrative Hearing.

Remember - what the DHSMV does and what the court does are two separate things. One does not impact the other. You can still have your license suspended by the DHSMV even if you go to trial on a DUI and win.

"Back On Track" Eligibility Requirements:

1) No prior DUIs. Period.

2) No prior alcohol-related driving offenses (such as a prior DUI that was broken down to reckless driving)

3) Up to one prior non-violent felony conviction and/or two prior misdemeanor convictions.

4) You cannot have completed more than one prior misdemeanor diversion program and one prior felony diversion program.

5) If there was an accident, you cannot be at fault.

6) No minor children present inside of you car at the time of your arrest.

7) You cannot be driving on a suspended license at the time of your DUI arrest.

"Back On Track" does not result in the dismissal of your charges like a true diversion program would. Rather, at the conclusion of your program (either 6 months or 1 year), the prosecutor will amend your charge to reckless driving and you will receive a withhold of adjudication. You will still have to pay the court costs for the reckless driving charge, which may amount to approximately $550.

"Back On Track" seems like a great idea, but it may not be right for you. It is time-consuming, expensive, and still results in a charge on your record. Before you make a decision to enter this program, should you be eligible, it is in your best interest to speak with a DUI attorney in Miami-Dade County.

As of now, Palm Beach and Broward do not have a program like this.