The State Attorney’s Office for the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, which prosecutes DUI arrest cases in Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto counties, has initiated a program for persons charged with DUI called the DETER Program. Acceptance and successful completion of the DETER Program will avoid a DUI conviction on your Florida driving record. The DETER Program will result in having the DUI charge amended to reckless driving, which is still a misdemeanor criminal charge.
DETER stands for Driver Enhanced Treatment Education Rehabilitation, and ONLY APPLIES TO FIRST OFFENSE MISDEMEANOR CHARGES. However, not everyone arrested for a DUI arrest case will be eligible for the DETER program. For instance, a person who has a previous DUI or alcohol related conviction, even if the conviction was from another state, will be ineligible. A person who takes the breath test and blows above a .20 is excluded from the DETER program. DUI charges involving property damage or personal injury disqualify you from DETER. Lastly, a person’s previous criminal history may exclude you from admission into the DETER program. Admission is not a right, and acceptance is solely within the discretion of the prosecutor.
A person who is accepted into DETER after attending the court date will sign an agreement to enter into the program, with another court date being set approximately 60 days later. Before the next court date the person must complete certain pre-plea sanctions to remain eligible, and provide proof of compliance with the State Attorney’s Office.
If all of this is done, the driver will be placed on a period of 12 months probation. The standard conditions of that probation will include paying a $500.00 fine, as well as court costs and probation fees. The driver must complete the 12 hour Florida DUI school and Online Victim Impact panel, perform 50 hours of public service work, and complete from 2 to 4 days in the Sheriff’s Office Work Offender Program. The vehicle driven at the time of the offense must be impounded for a period of 10 days. While on probation the driver cannot possess or consume alcohol or illegal drugs, and must submit to random testing at his or her own expense. Lastly, the driver must install an ignition interlock device on the vehicle for a period of time ranging from 3 to 6 months.
The DETER program is obviously beneficial in that the charge is reduced to reckless driving. The downside is that the DETER program imposes sanctions which are actually above and beyond what is mandatory on a regular DUI charge. It also prevents you from actually contesting your guilt. You waive your right to a jury trial, where 6 jurors could potentially find you not guilty of all charges, based upon the evidence or lack of evidence in the case.