Hillsborough County DUI RIDR Program

The Hillsborough RIDR Program: A Guide to DUI Diversion in Florida

The Hillsborough County Reduced Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) Program

Responding to the alarming statistics that placed Hillsborough County consistently among the worst in Florida for DUI crashes, injuries, and fatalities, newly elected Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew H. Warren introduced the Hillsborough RIDR program in 2018. RIDR, an acronym for Reduced Impaired Driving Recidivism, was an effort spearheaded by the State Attorney’s Office, aiming to combat the issue of impaired driving head-on.

From a broader perspective, RIDR’s inception was not just a local initiative. Across the nation, DUI offenses had led to over 10,000 deaths, a figure that represented nearly a third of all traffic-related fatalities in the U.S. The sobering figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration painted a grim picture, that, according to the State Attorney’s Office, necessitated the implementation of the RIDR program.

With a purported commitment to enhancing long-term community safety and curbing DUI incidents, RIDR enforces strict measures on first-time, non-aggravated DUI offenders. It serves a twofold purpose: Firstly, it seeks to deter DUI offenders from reoffending through stringent interventions, a direct response to the statistic that around one-third of DUI arrests are repeat offenders. Secondly, it provides an avenue for them to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society. Although RIDR might seem akin to a diversion program at first glance, it differs notably. While diversion programs typically divert offenders from the judicial system, RIDR provides a strict framework with a negotiated plea, specifically catered to DUI offenses.

Elligibility Criteria for the RIDR Program

To be considered for the RIDR program:

  1. The offense must be categorized as a misdemeanor DUI.
  2. The incident should not involve minors, a BAC of .20 or above, or result in a crash.
  3. The offender should not have previous records of DUI or other severe offenses.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 Pre-Trial Intervention or probation.

RIDR Program Levels and Requirements

Recognizing that not all DUI offenses are the same, the program adopts a tri-level system:

  • Level 1: For standard DUI offenses.
  • Level 2: DUI offenses with breath alcohol level over .15.
  • Level 3: Drug-related DUI offenses.

Requirements of the R.I.D.R. Program

The R.I.D.R. program is rigorous, demanding participants to:

  1. Installation of an ignition interlock monitoring device in the offender’s vehicle – a direct response to ensure no repeat offenses.
  2. Mandatory attendance and completion of a DUI school, followed by any additional recommended treatment.
  3. Participation in a victim impact panel.
  4. A fixed 10-hour community service obligation.

However, the journey doesn’t end there. Upon meeting these requirements, the State Attorney presents the negotiated plea agreement. The offender would then finalize their commitment at a subsequent court date, entering a plea of “No Contest” or “Guilty,” to the lesser charge of reckless driving.

The Terms of the Plea Deal:

  • Withhold of adjudication
  • 12 months of probation
  • Court costs, and standard conditions of probation
  • Ten-day vehicle immobilization
  • Complete D.U.I. school, and any recommended treatment
  • 50-hours of community service
  • The ignition interlock device for 3 months

Level 2 requires additional community service hours and a 6-month period for the ignition interlock device. Level 3 requires a “PharmCheck Drugs of Abuse Patch.”

Implications of the Hillsborough RIDR Program

When confronted with the legal maze following a DUI charge, the paths available are often varied. Some might find solace in challenging the case head-on, especially if the chances of success during motions or trials are high. But for many, especially where the odds are stacked against them, the Hillsborough RIDR program provides a beacon of hope.

DUI diversion programs, of which RIDR is one, present defendants with both benefits and drawbacks. The tangible benefits include avoiding court-ordered suspensions, escaping the financial burden of high-risk insurance, and potentially sealing one’s criminal record, which greatly aids in societal reintegration. Beyond this, money saved can be funneled into interventions like substance abuse counseling, making it a rehabilitative rather than merely punitive measure. However, participants face stringent requirements like installing ignition interlock devices or attending DUI school. An even more unsettling drawback is the potential for innocent individuals to be corralled into the program. Fear of losing at trial or being slapped with more severe penalties might push innocent defendants to opt for RIDR, even if they have not committed the crime. While prosecutors might view offering RIDR as a gracious act, it’s a hollow offer for those wrongly accused, as they would still have to navigate the program’s rigorous requirements.

At the same time, critics from the public safety and law enforcement perspective, however, have different reservations. They worry that programs like RIDR might unintentionally reduce DUI arrests. Additionally, the concern that a prior offender, after diversion, might be treated as a first-time offender in future cases is a prominent point of contention. Although records can be sealed, in certain scenarios, they may still be accessible.

While RIDR may seem strict, for the legal community, it does offer clarity in a confusing time. For those feeling cornered by their DUI charge, it offers a defined, structured way forward. It’s not an easy path, but it’s a clear one. As you weigh your options, keep in mind that programs like RIDR are continuously under review to strike a balance between individual rehabilitation and public safety. Their potential benefits can significantly outweigh the drawbacks.

A Silver Lining in the RIDR Program

Though the R.I.D.R. program imposes harsh measures, it does offer a potential benefit. One of the program’s strongest selling points is that it offers a “withhold of adjudication.” This leaves the door open for participants to have their record sealed, provided they are eligible. See our page on sealing and expunging criminal records.

The Law Office of William B. Wynne represents clients in all criminal matters, including D.U.I. cases. Consultations are free of charge, and we offer payment plans to those who qualify. Contact us today at 813-532-5057 to discuss your DUI case.

William Wynne

William Wynne

Attorney William B. Wynne practices criminal defense in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding counties. Contact us for a free consultation.

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