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Florida county introduces recidivism program for DUI offenders

A new program offers DUI offenders a second chance

The traditional criminal justice model often punishes offenders of drug- and alcohol-related crimes by imposing lengthy jail sentences. These types of traditional sentences can leave offenders with few opportunities to receive assistance in correcting their behavior.

Studies show that incarceration is not always the most effectual method to crime reduction. Instead research indicates that treatment can be more effective in reducing recidivism rates.

Here is how one Florida county is changing their approach to DUI offenders.

First-time offenders may receive lesser charges upon completion

Earlier this month a program known as Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism was introduced to Hillsborough County and offers eligible lawbreakers an alternative to imprisonment. The program gives first-time misdemeanor DUI offenders a chance to receive a charge of reckless driving with no conviction.

Eligible offenders who enroll in the program must adhere to a number of provisions to receive the lesser charge. Such provisions can include attending a DUI school, treatment program, Mothers Against Drunk Driving impact panel and completion of community service.

Upon successful completion they can enter a plea to reckless driving. They may also be required to complete a year of probation, ten-day vehicle immobilization, additional community service and install an ignition interlock device.

Not every person charged with a DUI will be eligible

In order to be eligible for the program offenders must meet specific criteria. Eligible participants must not have prior DUI or alcohol-related reckless driving offenses. Offenders who have been enrolled in a DUI diversion program in the past will be ineligible.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the numerous eligibility requirements for the program. A seasoned attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for recidivism programs in your county.

Time and time again studies show that treatment is the most effective way to reduce future criminal behavior — not punishment.

A number of DUI offenders have alcohol-dependency issues and punishment is not always a powerful solution. By offering lawbreakers the second chance they may have better odds of turning around their life and becoming law-abiding citizens.