• The Pinellas Country DUI Diversion Program

The Pinellas County DUI Diversion Program

If you’ve been arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Pinellas County then you may be eligible for the DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program (D.R.O.P). This may give you the chance to get a rapid resolution to your first-time DUI offense, reduce your charge and get your life back on track. This program went into effect on June 1, 2021. It has changed the way that criminal defense attorneys in Pinellas County handle DUI cases. It is potentially the key to keeping your license, your job, and keeping your record clean.

What is the Pinellas County DUI Diversion Program?

The Pinellas County DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program, also referred to as D.R.O.P, is a program that was recently announced by the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County, FL.

Diversion programs ‘divert’ cases away from the court system in exchange for the defendant completing rehabilitation tasks such as community service or alcoholics groups.

Generally, diversion programs reduce or drop charges for defendants who stay out of trouble for a specified period of time.

With the Pinellas County DUI Diversion Program, the state is looking to provide quick resolutions to cases for first-time DUI offenses, with breath tests under .15 BAC or refused the intoxilyzer and that didn’t involve serious crashes.

If accepted into the DROP program, then you will enter a Plea of Guilty to the reduced charge of Reckless Driving and be placed on probation.

The sentence and probation terms are determined by your level of blood alcohol concentration (B.A.C.) upon arrest, or if you refused the breath test.

In Pinellas County, FL, all DUI cases are prosecuted at the Pinellas County Justice Center located at 14250 49th St N in Clearwater, FL or in North County Traffic Court on US 19.

Benefits of the Pinellas County D.R.O.P. Program

As listed further below, there are two sentencing tiers. They are very similar to the minimum statutory sanctions for first-time DUI offenses. However, there are considerable benefits:

  • Your charge will be reduced to Reckless Driving.
  • If your case is Tier One, then you qualify for having ‘Adjudication Withheld’. This means you will not be convicted of any criminal offense.
  • You’ll have a shorter probation period.
  • You won’t receive a court-ordered suspension of your license. (However, under some circumstances the DMV may still have your license suspended or restricted.)
  • This may reduce your insurance costs and get you back on the road sooner.
  • Potentially reduced fines.

Am I Eligible for the Pinellas County D.R.O.P. Program?

The DROP program is only eligible for those arrested for DUI offenses in Pinellas County on or after June 1st, 2021.

However, eligibility is determined at the sole discretion of the State Attorney. It is evaluated on an individual, fact-specific basis even if you meet all the eligibility criteria.

To be eligible for the Pinellas County D.R.O.P. Program, you will also need to:

  • Complete 20 community service hours
  • Complete DUI School
  • Complete the M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel

Don’t worry if this all sounds confusing and overwhelming – as Criminal Defense attorneys, we can help assist you in meeting the eligibility and submitting your application.

DUI Cases Not Eligible for Pinellas County DUI Diversion Program

To see if you’re eligible for the Pinellas County DUI Diversion Program, you must not meet the following criteria:

  • Your breath or blood alcohol concentration sample was over 0.15 B.A.C.
  • You were involved in a crash with a bodily injury.
  • Your case included significant property damage.
  • Minor children were in the vehicle.
  • Your case has accompanying felony charges.
  • You were or are under any form of supervision.
  • You have been involved with similar offenses in the past or have previously received traffic-related diversion programs.
  • You did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the offense.
  • You have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

How to Apply for Pinellas County D.R.O.P Program?

If you pass the criteria listed above, then you must apply for the Pinellas County D.R.O.P. program at or before your case’s second pretrial hearing. This requires a non-refundable $50 application fee.

DUI offenses can loom over you for years, so making use of this chance for a quick resolution can be highly beneficial.

It’s highly advised that you act quickly to determine your eligibility and to ensure the application is done correctly. Because there is discretion by the State Attorney as to who gets into the program, your lawyer will still have to convince the prosecutor that you are an appropriate candidate. As your Criminal Defense attorney, we will guide you through the process and increase your chances to bring you the best outcome.

Pinellas County DUI Diversion Program Sentences

There are two sentencing levels for the Pinellas County D.R.O.P. program. These are referred to as Tier One and Tier Two.

Tier One

Tier One sentencing is for cases with B.A.C. between .08 and .12.

  • Adjudication withheld
  • Six (6) months probation
  • Fines and fees
  • Fifty (50) community service hours (with credit for the 20 already completed)
  • 10-day vehicle immobilization
  • No consumption of alcohol/illegal drugs/non-prescribed drugs and no bars, clubs, or establishments where alcoholic beverages are primarily served
  • Mandatory random alcohol/drug testing at Defendant’s expense

Tier Two

Tier two sentencing is for cases with B.A.C. between .12 and .15, or a breath test refusal.

  • Adjudicated Guilty
  • Nine (9) months probation
  • Fines and fees
  • Fifty (50) community service hours (with credit for the 20 already completed)
  • 10-day vehicle immobilization
  • No consumption of alcohol/illegal drugs/non-prescribed drugs and no bars, clubs, or establishments where alcoholic beverages are primarily served
  • Mandatory random alcohol/drug testing at Defendant’s expense

Pinellas County DUI Statistics

  • 2,087 DUI arrests annually.
  • 13.8% of DUI offenses involved auto accidents.
  • 5.7% of DUI arrests involved wrong-way drivers.
  • 49.1% of DUI tests had BAC levels above .08%

DUI Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL

If you’re facing a first time DUI charge, then applying for the Pinellas County DUI Diversion Program is something that you are going to want to do. We can discuss the strength of your case and your options during a free consultation.

By contacting a DUI defense attorney, you can receive guidance and help on which route is best for you.

Sean McQuaid is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County. He is the President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association, a group of 1,100 lawyers and judges in the area. He is the managing partner at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with the reputation and connections to make things happen. We believe that there is no one better to help guide you through your DUI case and to handle D.R.O.P. program application process.

Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300

Sean McQuaid