On March 1, 2018, Hillsborough County implemented the Reduced Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) initiative, which helps lower charges for first-time DUI offenders. This offers an invaluable opportunity for people who have never been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. Because DUI convictions carry serious penalties, including jail time, fines, license suspension, and increased insurance costs, reducing such charges can make a big difference for a defendant.
Let’s take a look at the Hillsborough County RIDR program and how it may affect your case. This program can offer a valuable opportunity, but you need to consider your options before you start taking part in the time-consuming and expensive sanctions involved.
Qualifying for the Hillsborough County RIDR Program
Although the RIDR program can help you lower a DUI charge, your arresting circumstances must meet particular criteria for you to qualify.
Your circumstances do not fit the RIDR criteria if you…
- Were driving with a minor in the vehicle
- Tested with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .20 or higher
- Caused an injury or property damage
- Have a prior conviction for reckless driving or vehicular homicide
- Have a driving while license suspended prior
- Have a felony on your record from within the past five years
It is also important to note that the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa will evaluate all circumstances on a case-by-case basis, meaning they can determine you do not qualify due to factors not mentioned above. Additionally, first-time offenses that do not meet RIDR requirements may be subject to harsher punishments. Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact a qualified DUI attorney to determine if you are eligible.
Sanctions Are Costly & Time-Sensitive
It is important to note that the Hillsborough County RIDR program requires your full adherence to sanctions that are stricter than those typically imposed for a first-time DUI charge. Some of these sanctions must be completed before your case is resolved in court. These sanctions are expensive and time-consuming, due to criteria such as installing an ignition interlock device on your vehicle and completing dozens of hours of community service.
Our Tampa criminal defense law firm is concerned that people will begin to complete the associated requirements in the hopes that it will help them enter into this program—when they will not.
“While this program may make sense to help resolve your DUI without a DUI conviction, we believe it is going to be extremely important for people to speak with an attorney before completing any sanctions they believe may help them enter this new program. These additional sanctions are both time-consuming and expensive. We believe it is more important than ever to speak to an experienced DUI attorney to determine if your case may be eligible for this program and what, if any, sanctions you need to begin completing.” - Attorney Jeff Paulk
In addition to the above concerns, it is important to note this program will have absolutely no effect on the suspension of your driver’s license by the DMV. Therefore, if you have been arrested for driving under the influence, do not hesitate to take immediate action to preserve your ability to drive. It is also essential to recognize that the State Attorney in Hillsborough County created this program. He has no control over the of Department of Motor Vehicles or DUI cases in any other county, which means that if you have been arrested for DUI in any Florida county outside of Hillsborough, you will not be eligible for the Hillsborough County RIDR program.
How the Hillsborough County RIDR Program Will Affect Your Case
No two DUI cases are the same, just like no two defendants are the same. You have specific circumstances surrounding your case and its impact on every single area of your life. You need to work with an attorney who will take the time to understand the implications of your DUI arrest and whether the Hillsborough County RIDR program is applicable and right for you. Before you start trying to complete sanctions that can use up a considerable amount of your time and money, talk to our team.
There are different defense strategies that can be used to successfully challenge DUI charges in criminal court and the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. What if your attorney can prove that your breath test was not properly administered? That the arresting officer did not have proper grounds to pull you over in the first place? The RIDR program will not be necessary if your lawyer secures an acquittal, reduced charges, or dismissal of your charges.
If you would like to learn more about the RIDR program and how it could impact your DUI case, you should not hesitate to get in touch with an experienced lawyer as quickly as possible. At Thomas & Paulk, we have been committed to representing the rights of the criminally accused for years and have handled thousands of cases. We understand the law and can help you understand your legal options and determine whether or not this program is a proper fit for your case.
To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call (813) 321-7323.