Alternative Penalties in Florida DUI CasesPublished: Dec 20, 2019 by Erika Valcarcel
If you’re facing charges of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Florida, there may be any number of possible consequences. That may or may not include time in jail, depending on many factors. Given the effects of jail time (lost freedom, time away from work and family, social stigma) we try very hard to prevent our clients from having to go that route.
Possible Penalties for a DUI in Florida
Depending on the facts of your DUI arrest, if it’s your first, you aren’t accused of breaking other laws, you don’t have a prior criminal record, and you acted responsibly with the arresting officer, chances are good you won’t spend time in jail. However, you may have to pay a fine, your driver’s license may be suspended, you could be sentenced to probation, an ignition interlock device may be installed in your vehicle and mandatory community service might also be ordered.
Substance Abuse Treatment May Be an Option
Whether it’s your first DUI or not, an important aspect of its aftermath may be your treatment for substance abuse. If you are addicted to drugs and or alcohol and this DUI is your first involvement with the criminal justice system, this can be a critical point in your life. It can force you to realize your problem and get treatment for it, hopefully putting you on a path to a safer, happier, and healthier life. Or, if you don’t deal with your addiction, this could be the first of many arrests and the start of a spiral that could result in many years in prison or your death due to an overdose or vehicle accident.
Instead of time behind bars, you may be able to participate in a residential treatment program. Many Florida counties will allow you to complete an in-house residential treatment program instead of going to jail. The programs normally take four weeks. You would stay at the facility and participate in the program. If you’re successful, it can be a strong argument to a prosecutor or judge you’re putting your life together and jail wouldn’t do you or anyone else any good. Another option instead of, or in addition to, residential treatment, is the use of a S.C.R.A.M. device. It’s an electronic ankle bracelet that not only tracks your location but tests you for alcohol use.
DUI Court in Sarasota County
In Sarasota County, there’s the DUI Court. Its goal is to lessen the number of repeat DUI offenders by providing alternative community-based treatment. It started in 2008 and there are only four other similar courts in the state. The court seeks to change behavior by targeting offenders who:
- Plead guilty to DUI charges
- Are alcohol or drug dependent
- Have one or more prior arrest(s) for alcohol or drug-related offenses
The program is based on the drug court concept, where there is a sanction and reward structure along with specific guiding principles. There is immediate accountability, mandatory counseling, case management, drug and alcohol testing, and community supervision for at least a year. DUI courts are much better at reducing recidivism compared to traditional incarceration.
A DUI Attorney Can Help You Get an Alternative to Jail
If you’re facing DUI charges, the last thing you want to do is spend time in jail. Representation by a DUI defense lawyer could help increase the chances a jail term can be avoided. Without knowing the law, how the criminal justice system works, or the possible alternatives to a jail sentence, choosing to defend yourself against DUI charges could be a recipe for disaster.
Attorney Erika Valcarcel has the experience you want in a DUI defense attorney, having represented clients facing DUI charges for years. She has taken many of these cases to trial and is prepared to aggressively protect your rights and interests throughout the criminal justice process.