Back on Track Diversion Program
If you were arrested for DUI in Miami-Dade County, and the evidence against you is overwhelming, you might consider your eligibility for a program to avoid a criminal conviction. The Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office may offer referral to the Back on Track Diversion Program.
What is it, and what does it have to do with you?
The Back on Track Program is a diversion program for people who were arrested for a first-offense DUI. Successful completion of the program conditions will result in a reduced charge of reckless driving, with NO criminal conviction. Getting into the program is not automatic, however, and it is up to the State Attorney’s Office to determine who meets the eligibility requirements for the program. The program is run by two not-for-profit organizations, the Advocate Program and Court Options. While the requirements of each are the same, it will depend on which judge has your case.
Here are answers to questions you might have about the Back on Track Program in Miami:
- Can I be accepted to the Back on Track program if I have a prior DUI on my record?
No, you cannot. Only first-time DUI offenders are eligible for the program. Even out-of-state convictions count against you.
- What if I caused a DUI accident?
To qualify for the program, you cannot have caused an accident, with limited exceptions (see #6 below).
- My passenger was hurt. Will that pose a problem?
Unfortunately, it will be a problem. You cannot be accepted to the program if anyone was injured as a result of the incident. This applies to other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and even your own passengers.
- Will having a child passenger exclude me from the program?
Yes, if you had a child passenger in your vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest, you will not be eligible for the Back on Track program.
- Will an open bottle of alcohol disqualify me?
If law enforcement found an open bottle of alcohol in your vehicle at the time of the DUI stop/arrest, you may not be eligible for the program.
- What if I was in a single-car accident?
If you were in a single-car accident, no other vehicles were involved, and you did not cause any significant property damage, you may still qualify for the Back on Track program. For example, if you overcorrected while under the influence and then your car went flying down a hill, but only your vehicle was damaged (no other property), you may still be eligible.
- Who administers the Back on Track program?
Miami-Dade’s Back on Track program is administered by two private not-for-profit companies, The Advocate Program, and Court Options. However, the State Attorney’s Office established the eligibility requirements.
- 8. What disqualifies someone from the program?
There are several factors that can disqualify someone from the Back on Track program, namely a prior DUI conviction, having a blood alcohol level (BAL) of 0.25% or higher, and driving on a suspended license while arrested for DUI among others. To learn more about the applicable exclusions, don’t hesitate to contact my DUI defense firm. A prior arrest for DUI may disqualify you, even if the case was dismissed.
- Can I avoid an Ignition Interlock Device?
One of the most cumbersome requirements for DUI offenders is the installation of an ignition interlock device for either three or six months. What if I don’t own a car? What if drive a company car? What if I drive clients during work? What if I drive an Uber or Lyft vehicle? There may be alternatives available to you.
- I was arrested for Boating Under the Influence. Am I eligible for the program?
Yes. Once completed, the State Attorney’s Office will reduce the BUI charge to Reckless Boating, a lesser charge, and offer a withhold of adjudication (no criminal conviction).
There are two levels of participation in the Back on Track Program. Level One is exclusively for first-offender cases involving a breath test result under .15. Level Two is designed for breath tests over .15, refusal to submit to a breath test, and urine or blood tests with positive controlled substance results. Level One lasts for 6-7 months and Level Two lasts for 9-10 months (with slightly increased requirements).
Some of the conditions are:
- Submit to random drug testing
- Perform community service
- Take MADD victim impact classes
- Participate in substance abuse classes and counseling
- Court-ordered fines and donations
- Ignition Interlock or Remote Breath testing
Back On Track Success Stories
The Back on Track Program can provide a great alternative disposition for some first-time DUI offenders. But, not everyone is eligible for the program. Some first-time offenders are disqualified for admission into the program because their cases involve a crash, they have minors in the car, have too many serious moving traffic violations in the past five years or have very high blood alcohol levels. If you are facing your first DUI charge, speak with me, a DUI attorney, to discuss whether the DUI diversion program may be beneficial for your case.
Here are just a few examples of how I have been able to help my clients by securing their admission into the program, despite ineligibility:
SUCCESS STORY #1
Client was a college student at the University of Miami. He struck an unoccupied police cruiser from the rear, causing the cruiser to cross six lanes of traffic. Breath alcohol level .17. Client not eligible for Back on Track.
I compiled a mitigation package containing dozens of letters of recommendation, accomplishments, college transcripts and community service for presentation to the State Attorney’s Office. Then, I met with the officer involved in the case and obtained his consent for referral to the program. Met with the Chief of County Court for the State Attorney’s Office and obtained approval.
SUCCESS STORY #2
Client is a professor at a local college. She allegedly bumped the rear of a taxi cab that stopped suddenly at an intersection. Technically not permitted to enroll in the Back on Track Program.
I provided the State Attorney’s Office with photographs of the client’s car, as well as the taxi cab. Photos showed that no crash of any significance occurred. Client was admitted with the approval of the State Attorney’s Office.
SUCCESS STORY #3
Client is a hotel concierge on South Beach. Arrested for DUI traveling 90 mph, with open containers of alcohol in the car. Breath test result, .22. Driving record revealed more than 15 moving violations in the past 10 years. Not eligible for Back on Track.
I moved to vacate some of the past driving convictions and sent the client to enroll in DUI school and take YouImpact classes prior to discussing case with prosecutors. Obtained approval from the police officer and prosecutors to refer to program.
SUCCESS STORY #4
Client works for a major newspaper publishing company. Client has one prior arrest for DUI, but no conviction, as that charge was successfully defended by me. Allegedly found throwing up at a local gas station inside the car and observed by helicopters. Prior arrest makes the client ineligible.
Persuaded prosecutors that the stop of the client’s car was likely illegal and that they might not win a motion to suppress all evidence, on the last day of the speedy trial time period. Rather than risking losing the case completely, the state offered us participation in the program.
Not Completing The Program Is Serious Business
The Back on Track Program in Miami-Dade County was created by the State Attorney’s Office, so your trial judge can’t and won’t intervene if you don’t complete the conditions of the program – or you pick up a new law violation. The result of either of these circumstances is that your case is returned to court for criminal prosecution.
What Can Happen If They Bounce You Out Of The Program?
Things like not completing community service hours in time, or unfulfilled financial obligations are on the low end of the severity scale when it comes to getting the prosecutors to agree to re-enrolling you or extending your time for completion. In many cases, an experienced Miami DUI attorney can negotiate a re-enrollment. However, failing a drug test, picking up a new law violation (not a traffic ticket) or failing an ignition interlock device blow will bounce your case right back to a trial date.
Also, keep in mind that the State Attorney’s Office requires program participants to sign a “Statement of Personal Responsibility” acknowledging driving under the influence at the time of the arrest. The statement also requires you to waive any challenge to the legal admissibility of the document when the prosecutors attempt to use it at your trial. A few judges even require you to read the statement aloud in court and record your voice doing so.
What Can You Do?
Call me at 786-785-2035 or contact me online. I will work to correct their mistake by filing a motion with the court to require the clerk to remove, correct or amend the public record that wrongfully documents you as having received a conviction.
The choice of participating in the program is a serious one. If you make it – do it right and don’t mess up.