It's your second
DUI and the prosecution is seeking jail. You have hired a
criminal defense lawyer and after a thorough investigation of your case, he tells you that it's
time to consider a plea. You think to yourself that you cannot go to jail
because jail is for violent criminals. "I just made a mistake."
Unfortunately, every case is not winnable. You need to have a plan in
the event that your case is unwinnable. The 11th hour before trial or a last-minute plea is not the time to look for alternatives
to a jail sentence.
In Florida, there are mandatory minimum jail sentences for multiple DUI
convictions. If you are convicted of a second offense DUI within 5 years
of a prior DUI conviction, there is a 10-day minimum mandatory jail sentence.
If you are convicted of a third offense within 10 years after the date
of a prior conviction, you are required to spend a minimum mandatory 30
days in jail.
However, Florida Statutes give judges the discretion to allow a DUI defendant
to serve all or a portion of a jail sentence in a residential alcoholism
treatment program or a residential drug abuse treatment program. The law
requires that if a defendant serves time in a residential treatment center,
that the time spent in the treatment center be credited toward the jail
sentence. It is possible to avoid long-term jail sentences with early
negotiations involving residential treatment.
Additionally, if you have insurance, your plan may cover some or all of
the treatment. If you are seeking treatment provided by a health care
provider or a provider of health care services on referral by a health
care provider, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may be available to you. (Note: You should consult with an employment
lawyer regarding your rights under FMLA).
Sarasota County has wonderful alcohol and drug residential treatment programs
that have been recognized by the court as substitutes for extended jail
sentences. Additionally, in 2008 the Honorable David Denkin, in coordination
with the State Attorney's Office, the Public Defender, the County
Commission, the Criminal Justice Commission, as well as various local
substance abuse treatment providers created the Sarasota County DUI Court.
The focus of DUI Court is to reduce the number of repeat DUI offenders
by providing alternative community-based treatment.
While it is the goal of every attorney to have a DUI dismissed or reduced,
it is always a good idea to have options available in case your DUI does
not fall within the category of a "winnable" case. When talking
to your lawyer, make sure you ask not only about the victories but also
ask about how he/she has helped those where the facts and the law are
not on their side. Remember that many of these programs have waiting lists
due to their popularity. If you have a problem and the law is against
you, early intervention is the key to a favorable outcome with your case.
For a thorough
case review with a Sarasota DUI attorney, including the facts, the law, and jail alternatives,
call my office at (941) 564-5319.