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Palm Beach County First DUI Program

Drunk driving charges cannot be resolved by deferred adjudication or specialty courts. However, for a first DUI offense in Palm Beach County, a defendant can go through a program where he or she pleads guilty to lesser charges of reckless driving and meets certain conditions of probation to avoid a conviction for driving under the influence.

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions floating around about the program. The worst is that a first time offender's admittance into the program is automatic or assured. Some people do not seek legal advice, assuming they will be able to make a lesser plea. In reality, it is very difficult to be admitted into the program, requiring skilled negotiation and an in-depth understanding of the procedure.

Failure to complete every step correctly could result in you being denied and forced to face charges for drunk driving.

Hiring a Palm Beach County Attorney to Assist in Program Acceptance

Do not simply walk into your court date assuming you can plead guilty to reckless driving charges if you are facing your first DUI charges in Palm Beach County, no matter what you've been told or who told it to you. Instead, have a skilled West Palm Beach drunk driving lawyer on your side, advising you and representing you to help you be admitted into the county program.

At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., "The Traffic Stop," we have helped many first-time offenders in Palm Beach County navigate the system and be admitted into the program. We will carefully review your situation, including whether it might be best to fight the charges and avoid a conviction altogether. 

In addition, the facts of the case may call for the Office of the State Attorney to consider “no filing” the charges or dropping them altogether.  Our office aggressively attacks each case by immediately filing as your attorney, contacting the agencies that are holding evidence against you, contacting the DUI intake department with the Office of the State Attorney, sending letters and doing all we can to find any loopholes around the charges being filed at all.

We offer affordable payment options, including sliding scale retainers for our clients. We represent people in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Delray Beach, Wellington, Palm Beach Gardens, Belle Glade, Juno Beach, Greenacres and anywhere else in Palm Beach County.

Info on County First DUI Program

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Exclusions to the Program

Eligibility is a key element of the First DUI program, and there are many ways a driver can be deemed ineligible. Some of the exclusions include:

  • Any arrest, at any point in your past, for driving under the influence in any jurisdiction; This is true regardless of the result of that case.  Arrested and acquitted of DUI in the past? Consider yourself temporarily excluded from the program!
  • A blood or breath test that shows an alcohol level at or above .20;
  • There was any sort of crash involved;
  • The arrest was accompanied by any other sort of criminal charges, including driving while license suspended, possession of a controlled substance or any other charge;
  • You have ever entered deferred prosecution for any offense, anywhere;
  • At some point in your life, you were sentenced to time in Florida State Prison;
  • You plead not guilty;
  • You demand discovery; or
  • You demand a trial by jury.

Making any kind of error in the proceedings, like pleading not guilty, could lead to you being ineligible. That is why you should always have a qualified attorney's guidance.

The prosecutor in the case also has a significant amount of discretion over who is admitted into the program. The State Attorney will examine your driving record and may make a determination that there is a pattern of poor driving behavior, especially if there are multiple violations. The prosecutor could also simply look at the facts of the case and determine that allowing for a reduced plea is not appropriate.

If the State Attorney decides to exclude you, it is not the end of the road. Our lawyers can speak the prosecutor about why he or she should change his or her mind and allow you into the program.

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Details of the First DUI Program

If admitted, you must plead guilty to reckless driving with alcohol as a significant factor. There are two tiers of conditions, one for people with a blood/breath alcohol level of .08 to .15, and the other from .15 to .199. All the condition must be met within 11 months.

Violating any of the conditions results in a jail sentence of up to 90 days in Palm Beach County Jail and a $500 fine or both.  Keep in mind that any violation of this agreement is likely to result in a hefty jail sentence as courts in Palm Beach County have considered the fact that you were offered a “major break” by being offered the program.

Conditions of BAL of .08 to .15

  • Plead guilty to reckless driving with alcohol as a significant factor;
  • Reporting probation for 12 months; with no eligibility for early termination
  • Attend DUI school and any recommended treatment programs;
  • Complete 50 hours of community service;
  • Attend Victim Impact Panel or the online "You Impact" program;
  • 10-day vehicle immobilization;
  • Pay $250 fine and $293.50 in court costs;
  • Refrain from consuming or possessing alcohol, and submit to random testing at the defendant's expense; and
  • Three months with an ignition interlock device, ankle Scram monitor, or Visual Alcohol Monitoring Device that the defendant must blow into at least four times per day.

Conditions of BAL of .15 to .199

The conditions for this higher BAL are largely the same as above, except:

  • Complete 75 hours of community service;
  • Make $250 donation to Victim Services Unit; and
  • Six  months with an ignition interlock device, ankle Scram monitor, or Visual Alcohol Monitoring Device that the defendant must blow into at least four times per day.

Conditions for a DUI with Controlled Substances

If the DUI in question was for driving under the influence of a controlled substance, then the program uses a hybrid of the tiers, with most from the lower-BAL tier. However, there is only six months of probation, since alcohol was not a significant factor in the DUI. 

It is the opinion of Meltzer & Bell, P.A., “The Traffic Stop” that controlled substance DUI charges tend to be more difficult to prove than alcohol-related offenses.  There are many legal reasons why this is true.  Consult with the lawyers at our office and learn why accepting this program may not be the best option and why you should acquire the services of our firm.

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Assisting Clients With Palm Beach County's First DUI Program

Despite what you may have heard, you cannot simply plead down to a reckless driving charge if you were arrested for DUI for the first time in Palm Beach County. It takes being admitted into a specific program, which is difficult.

Many people believe they can do it on their own, and wind up facing drunk driving charges in court. Don’t let that happen to you. Hire a skilled West Palm Beach DUI defense lawyer.

Call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. today at (561) 557-8686 to set up a consultation.

This article was last updated on Friday, February 23, 2018.

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