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Miami-Dade “Back on Track Program” for first time DUI Offenders

What is the new “Back on Track Program” offered by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office?

The “Back on Track Program” is a program supervised by Court Options that allows some first time offenders to have their DUI charged reduced to a Withhold of Adjudication for Reckless Driving.  It is being offered by the Office of the State Attorney because too many drunk drivers who challenged their cases in court were slipping though the system and receiving no punishment.  A recent article in the Miami Herald introducing the program may be found here.

Miami-Dade “Back on Track Program” criteria for acceptance:

  • Defendant must not have alcohol-related driving history where disposition is either withhold of adjudication or a conviction.
  • Defendant may have up to one-prior, non-violent felony conviction, and up to two prior misdemeanor convictions.
  • Defendant may have completed no more than one misdemeanor diversion program and no more than one felony diversion program.
  • The defendant must not have been at fault on an accident, if one was involved as part of the incident.
  • There must not have been minor children in the vehicle at the time of the arrest.
  • Defendants who were arrested for DUI during the period of a suspended license will be denied admission into the program. If the suspension period has expired and the defendant is eligible to obtain a license but has not done so at the time of the DUI arrest, the defendant will still be eligible to participate.

If you qualify for acceptance in the Back on Track Program then you will be classified as either a Tier 1 or Tier 2 offender:

  • Tier 1 = Blood Alcohol Level below .15
  • Tier 2 = Blood Alcohol Level at .15 and above or Refusal

The conditions associated with each Tier are as follows:

Tier 1

  • 6 – 9 months in the program
  • 10 day vehicle impound ($100)
  • Monetary donation ($300)
  • DUI School and Substance Abuse Evaluation ($252)
  • Treatment if required after substance abuse evaluation ($300-$500)
  • Cost of Prosecution ($50)
  • Cost of Supervision ($500)
  • Cost of Recovery to Law Enforcement (varies depending on agency)
  • Community Service (40 hours)
  • Victim Impact Class – 2 hours ($40)

Tier 2

  • 12 months in the program
  • 6 month vehicle ignition interlock ($305)
  • Monetary donation ($500)
  • DUI School and Substance Abuse Evaluation ($387)
  • Treatment if required after substance abuse evaluation ($300-$500)
  • Cost of Prosecution ($50)
  • Cost of Supervision ($650)
  • Cost of Recovery to Law Enforcement (varies depending on agency)
  • Community Service (60 hours)
  • Victim Impact Class – 2 hours ($40)

My thoughts regarding the “Back on Track Program.”

The program is an excellent option for many first time offenders who qualify for it.  For persons who complete the program they will have their DUI charge amended to a Reckless Driving charge with a Withhold of Adjudication.  This will allow them to seal their record later unless they have previously had another misdemeanor or felony case where they were adjudicated guilty.  It will also not be considered as a conviction and therefore should not affect their insurance premiums.

With that said, it is always best to retain a qualified attorney to review your case before you enter into a program like this.  When a person enters into the “Back on Track Program” they are required to sign an admission of guilt.  If they later drop out or fail to meet the conditions of the program, then their admission of guilt may be used against them.  There is no turning back once you sign up and enter the program.  By entering the program a person gives up any chance they have to challenge their DUI arrest.  They will not be able to dispute any of the evidence against them or file any motions to suppress evidence.  Additionally, a review of the penalties shows that the requirements to complete the program are quite extensive.  To complete the program, a person must attend DUI school and treatment if required, impound their vehicle or place an ignition interlock device that they must blow into in order to start their vehicle, perform community service hours and attend a victim impact class.

Another reason that I believe that the hiring of an attorney is important is because entering the Back on Track Program does not in any way affect the Administrative Suspension associated with a first time DUI.  When a person blows over .08%, on a first DUI, this triggers an automatic 180 day license suspension and the person must serve 30 days of that suspension before being eligible for a hardship license.  If a person refuses to blow on a first DUI they will receive a license suspension of 1 year and the person must serve 90 days of that suspension before being eligible for a hardship license.  The DUI administrative suspensions must be challenged within 10 days of the DUI arrest or they will be permanently waived.

A PDF file from Court Options that details the Back on Track Program’s criteria and requirements may be seen here: Miami-Dade Court Options – DUI Back on Track Program.

***Note:  The Back on Track Program is only available in Miami-Dade County.  It is not an option in any other Florida counties such as Broward, Palm Beach, Monroe, etc.

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