Orange County has been on the cutting edge (if that’s what you can call it) of helping out folks who have made just one bad mistake. We call this cutting edge help “diversion”. And yes, I am guilty of stretching the term “cutting edge”, and I’m warning you now that this article may contain a few more cliched terms.
Anyway, Orange County was one of the first counties (out of 67 in Florida) to institute a DUI Diversion program. For those of you unfamiliar with “diversion”, its just a fancy term for an agreement with the prosecutor that asks goes something like this: “do a bunch of stuff, and we’ll drop your case.” You can find more information about Orange County’s DUI diversion program here, but the point is, it has taken Seminole County almost a decade to catch up with some sort of DUI program of their own.
Last month, Seminole County began the “Seminole County First Time DUI Offender Program”.
Let’s start with the basics. Seminole County is careful not to call their new program “diversion”, because “diversion” means “dismissal”. So, its not a diversion program. Sorry. But, Seminole’s First Time DUI Offender Program does accomplish lots of positive things–it just doesn’t go all the way to dismissal.
I know what you’re thinking, because every person charged with first time driving under the influence is thinking the same thing: “What’s going to happen to me?” Well, I’ll tell you. In Orange County, if you’re a DUI first offender, what may happen to you is that your case “may” get dismissed. Thrown out. Gone. If, and only if, you can make it into their diversion program.
In Seminole County, the answer to the question “What’s going to happen to me on my first time DUI?” is not so simple.
Seminole County isn’t going to drop your case, as would happen with Orange County’s diversion. But, Seminole County will drop the DUI charge down to something lesser, called an Alcohol Related Reckless Driving. This is a beautiful thing. As a bonus, you will not be convicted of this lesser charge–meaning, you’ll receive a withhold of adjudication. Meaning, this case can be erased later (we call this “sealing”, and its a story for another day). Continue Reading