Most people understand the dangers of driving while intoxicated, but it’s still a common offense in Florida. Impaired drivers cause a significant portion of fatal accidents. Nationwide, the CDC estimates that about 1 alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurs every 50 minutes.
Despite the grim statistics, DUI arrests occur all too frequently. The fact of the matter is it’s hard for most people to tell when they’ve had too much to drink before getting in their cars. People who drink alcohol regularly may believe they’ve built up a tolerance, so they may be more inclined to drive with a high BAC. This can lead to disastrous consequences.
A DUI is a mistake thousands of people make every day. If you’ve been charged with DUI in West Palm Beach, you have the right to quality representation. Attorney Brian P. Gabriel dedicates most of his legal practice to fighting alcohol-related charges in Palm Beach County. Find out how he can help you overcome your charge with a free consultation.
Florida Senator Pushes a More Flexible Diversion Program
A Florida state senator from Altamonte Springs has proposed a new DUI diversion program that could help offenders maintain a sense of normalcy while they participate. Senate Bill 1396 would provide first-time DUI offenders with the opportunity to walk away from their DUI charges with relatively clean records if they agree to meet the requirements of the program. The bill would authorize a pilot program in each judicial circuit; so, if the bill passes, eligible DUI defendants all over Florida may be able to enroll.
Participants must complete the following to succeed:
- Participants must agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle.
- Participants must work at least 50 hours of community service.
- Participants must attend a substance abuse treatment class
- Participants must not use alcohol or illegal drugs while completing the program.
The diversion program would last for no more than a year. The DMV would not suspend the licenses of participating drivers during that time; therefore, DUI defendants may keep driving to and from work to support themselves and their families.
After completing the above requirements, DUI offenders would face a reduced reckless driving charge. The charge would be withheld from adjudication so long as the drivers remain sober behind the wheel.
A New Take on DUI Diversion Programs
Diversion programs help people facing criminal charges give back to their communities in exchange for leniency or having their charges dismissed. Senate Bill 1396 would allow drivers to keep driving and working, solving one of the main issues of a DUI arrest — having your license suspended. The program would also ensure the safety of communities by requiring first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their cars. IIDs are specialized pieces of equipment that test drivers’ breath before they can start their vehicles. Any driver with detectable alcohol in their breath may not operate their car until they become sober.
Who Would Qualify for the New DUI Diversion Program?
People who face a first-time DUI charge and meet the following criteria may qualify for the DUI diversion program proposed by Senate Bill 1396:
- No previous drug or alcohol offenses
- No felonies
- No more than 2 misdemeanors on your criminal record
- DUI may not have caused an accident
- May not have had children in the car at the time of the first DUI
- BAC may not have met or exceeded 0.20
If a driver is eligible for the program but fails, the DUI would be prosecuted as if the driver had not participated in a diversion program. Also, a driver who completes the diversion program but is later charged with a second DUI will have the first charge count as a prior DUI charge despite succeeding in the program.
Challenge Your DUI with Quality Legal Counsel in West Palm Beach
If you’re facing a DUI charge in West Palm Beach, now is the time to contact an experienced defense lawyer. The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel continues to serve Palm Beach County and surrounding communities, providing competent representation for people who are accused of misdemeanor and felony crimes. We aim to protect your interests and educate you about the charges you face and the court process every step of the way.
When you need reliable DUI defense in Palm Beach County, Brian P. Gabriel is a reputable source of representation. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation or complete our contact form.