MIAMI  (CBS4) – Many DUI offenders who walked into court Monday morning breathed a sigh of relief as a new initiative may keep them out of jail, or even allow them to have their cases dismissed.

Defense attorneys ready to put up a strong defense were greeted with a letter from state prosecutors stating that new rules would keep first-time DUI offenders in “non-crash” cases out of jail and into programs.


If they successfully complete those programs, they would likely receive a reckless driving charge without a conviction on their record.

“Before today, there was no break for first-time offenders,” said Justin Beckham, a DUI defense attorney in Miami. “There is no way to assess long term effects of this change. It’s a good day for my clients.”

But critics say it’s a departure from the tough stance the state attorney’s office once took on DUI cases.

The state attorney’s office has yet to define the exact details of the program, but on Monday DUI offenders were allowed to postpone their cases until the court determines if they are eligible for this program.

“This is the first time well have it in Miami, and if it doesnt work, we should throw it out,” said Janet Mondshein, Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Mondshein wants to see how the program works over the next year.

“We want to make sure that someone who has offended, and who has gone through that program, if that person reoffends, we want to be able to track,” said Mondshein.

State Attorney Spokesman Ed Griffith said that the new initiative was created because too many DUI cases “are dropped after witnesses fail to appear in court for trials.”

“When that happens, the deterrent effect of a DUI arrest is undercut by the fact that the offender suffers no consequence without a conviction,” Griffith said in a statement. “This is a step forward to bring more DUI offenders under the supervision of the law.  Anyone who thinks this is a ‘departure from the tough stance that was once imposed on DUI offenders’ is lacking the facts. Letting offenders escape with no punishment due to a failure of witnesses to participate in the legal process is absolutely the worse message anyone could send.  We’re sending the message that everyone should be held accountable.”

Comments (7)
  1. Chucky says:

    It’s about time!

  2. ranger1 says:

    After they let some of their Buddies get of, they will change it back,

  3. estrella says:

    This is unbelievable! So now we are going to have more people drinking because they know they may have the case dismissed . Only in Florida. This State is going to hell!!

    1. R says:

      you can thank the Republicans and Rick Scott. Perhaps the rumors are true….Rick Scott and the Republicans only care about the wealthy. Perhaps the rumors are true that the Republicans don’t really care about the working class…..For all those that voted Republicans, I can’t wait to see some of these drunken idiots hit there love ones on the road……by then I hope they think about how their vote impacts their life…..

  4. manny296 says:

    yes, now that more whites are getting pick up for DUI the States is dismissing alot of the DUI cases.. Florida is the White man drinking while driving friendly state.

  5. Luis Escarra says:

    The message is clear, “if you get caught driving under the influence(DUI) it’s fine a slap on the hand. Between Pretrial release program and this now, we should lay off police officers, public defenders and prosecutors we don’t need to spend all that money.
    What will be of this city in the next year, maybe a jungle? Our judicial system sponsors crime and is sending the wrong message to all criminals,, Got arrested is ok, we got you
    covered” why so concerned with the welfare of criminals? What is behind it? Doesn’t look good!

  6. Dennis Aquila says:

    This Is not right. I had a DUI in 1993 and I went through all the court ordered counseling and probation. It cost me a small fortune. It was the best thing that happened to me because I have not had a single drink since, however the DUI will remain on my record for the rest of my life. I was a first time offender with no injuries or property damage. Now offenders with the same situation as mine will only have a reckless driving charge on their record which will probably be expunged after five years. NOT FAIR. How can I get in on this deal?? I would live to have my ortherwise clean record cleared of this DUI. I have paid my debt to the county and the state of Florida and I will everyday of my life.

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