New program enhances sanctions to give first-time DUI offenders in Hillborough chance of lesser charge, no conviction

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County has been ranked one of the worst places in Florida for DUI crashes.

“Simply put, we have too much drunk driving in Hillsborough County, so we’re going to do something about it,” said State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit.

Warren wants to see a drastic change and he thinks a new program is part of the solution.

A first-time DUI offender will have the chance to walk away with a lesser charge of reckless driving and no conviction.

Warren hopes the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism Program allows people to learn from their mistake while bringing change to their behavior through things like community service, DUI school and even using an ignition alcohol monitor in a vehicle.

“These behavior modifying sanctions have proved effective in other cities that have used them,” Warren said.

News Channel 8 talked to DUI attorney Leslie Sammis, who thinks the program will be successful.

“If you do more up front, and you’re going to have to pay more up front, kind of being very organized about how to get everything done, in the long term you’ll be much better off.”

Those who use the program need to meet eligibility requirements:

  • Case must be misdemeanor DUI.
  • No minor in the vehicle, BAC of .20 or higher, or a crash.
  • No prior: DUI, alcohol-related reckless driving, DWLS with serious bodily injury or death, leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death, vehicular homicide, DUI diversion program or more than one non-DUI diversion program as an adult, or, in the five years prior to the date of offense, no adjudication, a withhold, or any portion of a sentence on a felony.
  • No pending: Florida driver license suspension, DUI, DWLS with serious bodily injury or death, leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death, vehicular homicide, or participation in a Pre-Trial Intervention or probation.

The State Attorney’s Office will assign a sanction level to eligible cases:

  • Level 1: BAC at or below .15.
  • Level 2: BAC above .15 and no breath sample.
  • Level 3: Drug-related DUIs.

At arraignment, the offender will waive speedy trial and agree to set the case of disposition in around 60 days, documents say.

Before disposition, the offender must provide proof of completion of the pre-plea sanctions to the State Attorney’s Office.

Here’s a list of pre-plea sanctions:

  • Remain crime-free.
  • Complete DUI school and begin recommended treatment.
  • Attend the MADD Victim Impact Panel.
  • Complete ten community service hours.

Level 1 and Level 2 must further:

  • Provide proof of installation of ignition interlock alcohol monitoring device or a continuous alcohol monitoring device (e.g. SCRAM).

Level 3 offenders must further:

  • Not possess or consume alcohol, illegal drugs or non-prescribed drugs.
  • Use PharmCheck drugs or Abuse Patch with results provided to the State Attorney’s Office.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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