Sarasota DUI Court Program

The mission of DUI Court is to reduce the number of repeat DUI offenders by providing alternative community-based treatment, thereby increasing both offender productivity and public safety.

Target Population, Model & Structure

The Sarasota County DUI Court began June of 2008 within the 12th Judicial Circuit. This specialized court is very unique, there being only four other such courts in the state of Florida.  The Sarasota DUI Court has received full support from the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners and the Criminal Justice Commission.  The program was started with the support of grant funds petitioned and awarded through the Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Florida Department of Transportation.  

The Sarasota DUI Court is dedicated to changing behavior by targeting offenders who are alcohol/drug dependent and are currently charged with a DUI and have 1 or more prior arrest(s) for alcohol and/or drug related offenses.

It has been noted that Florida is the third highest - ranking state in the country in alcohol related traffic fatalities. This specialty court has been designed to address this problem. Specialized DUI Courts are modeled after the highly successful Drug Court concept, having a graduated sanction/reward structure and following specific guiding principles.  Furthermore, it adds elements within the court such as immediate accountability, mandatory counseling, case management, drug and alcohol testing, and community supervision.  Statistics from operational DUI Courts show that recidivism decreases substantially after completion. 

Upon acceptance of the offender’s plea to the pending DUI charge the offender is placed on supervised probation for a period of at least one year. During this time, the DUI offender is required to comply with the mandatory statutory requirements of Florida Statutes 316.193 and 322.28 andcomplete all phases of DUI Court.

Staffing and Participants Progress

Each participant’s progress is reported to the DUI Court through weekly team staffings held prior to court with the participants. Detailed status reports are prepared and copied for the Judge and all team members to review as a part of the staffing process. A review of their treatment and overall program status is discussed, along with any program violations and recommendations. The judge makes the final decision on all rewards and sanctioning.

Financial Requirements

Participants are required to provide a portion of costs towards their individualized DUI program. An initial $100.00 administrative fee and $200.00 monthly program fees are required. Mandatory financial contribution from participants has therapeutic benefits, allowing participants to be empowered having a sense of ownership through their steps of sobriety and recovery. Participants are also required to pay their mandatory minimum fines and supervision costs as ordered. In appropriate cases, participants deemed qualified by the judge may work off all or part of their fines and court costs by doing community service work. Section 938.30, Florida Statutes (2016)


Eligibility Requirements for DUI Court

  • Defendant currently charged with Driving Under the Influence.
  • Defendant has 1 or more prior arrest(s) for alcohol and/or drug related offenses.
  • Defendant is alcohol dependent and desires to change behavior having a willingness to complete a treatment program and participate in recovery.
  • No serious violent criminal history.
  • No evidence of drug dealing.
  • 18 years of age or older.
  • Must reside in the 12th Judicial Circuit.
  • Defendant acknowledges they will be able to attend all required court appearances, treatment sessions and support meetings.
  • Defendant willing to... Show Up, Be Honest & Try

PHASE I: Orientation, Duration - (Approx. 45 days)

  • Mandatory jail time.
  • Weekly court appearances.
  • Clinical assessment
  • Mental Health assessment
  • Attend weekly scheduled case management meetings.
  • Probation orientation and assessment
  • Minimum of one home visit by probation, case manager or law enforcement.
  • Submit to a minimum of three random alcohol/drug screens per week.
  • Attend a minimum of three support/sober network meetings per week.
  • Attend a minimum of three "in house" group meetings per week.
  • Weekly individual counseling sessions.
  • Comply with any additional requirements recommended by the treatment provider

To advance to Phase II:
Completed jail time, completed all assessments, minimum 14 consecutive days clean and sober, pay no less than $100 assessment fee, signed Phase II contract.

PHASE II: Early Recovery, Duration - (Approx. 90 days)

  • Follow all rules and regulations of treatment.
  • Weekly court appearances
  • Attend weekly scheduled case management meetings.
  • Attend scheduled monthly meetings with Probation Officer.
  • Attend a minimum of three support/sober network meetings per week.
  • Attend scheduled meetings with counselor as recommended.
  • Submit to a minimum of three random alcohol/drug screens per week.
  • Attend a minimum of two "in house" group meetings per week
  • Enroll in DUI School and Victim Impact Panel.
  • Maintain employment, vocational training or educational opportunities / Complete community service work as imposed by judge
  • Minimum of one home visit by probation, case manager or law enforcement.
  • Pay DUI Court Program fees.
  • Obtain verified sponsor.

To advance to Phase III:
Completed all phase requirements; current on program fees, enroll in DUI School and Victim Impact Panel, minimum of 30 consecutive days clean and sober, signed Phase III contract.

PHASE III - Maintenance & Relapse Prevention, Duration -  (Approx. 115 days)

  • Follow all rules and regulations of treatment.
  • Bi-weekly court appearances
  • Attend scheduled monthly meetings with Probation Officer.
  • Attend scheduled case management meetings as recommended.
  • Minimum of one home visit by probation, case management or law enforcement.
  • Attend scheduled meetings with counselor as recommended.
  • Attend a minimum of three support/sober network meetings per week.
  • Attend a minimum of two "in house" group meetings per week.
  • Submit to a minimum of three random alcohol/drug screens per week.
  • Maintain employment, vocational training or educational opportunities / Complete community service work as imposed by the judge.
  • Pay DUI Court program fees
  • Begin and attend financial counseling as determined by the court. 

To advance to Phase IV:
Completed all phase requirements, must be employed and/or attending school, completed DUI School/VIP, minimum 90 consecutive days clean and sober, current on program fees, signed Phase IV contract.

PHASE IV - Continuance of Care & Commencement, Duration - (Approx. 115 days)

  • Follow all rules and regulations of treatment.
  • Monthly court appearances.
  • Attend scheduled monthly meetings with Probation Officer.
  • Attend case management meetings as recommended.
  • Minimum of one home visit by probation, case management or law enforcement.
  • Attend scheduled meetings with counselor as recommended.
  • Submit to a minimum of three random alcohol/drug screens per week.
  • Attend a minimum of three support/sober network meetings per week.
  • Attend a minimum of two "in house" group meetings per week
  • Maintain employment, vocational training or educational opportunities / Complete community service work as imposed by the judge.
  • Pay DUI Court program fees, court costs and fines.
  • Develop Relapse prevention plan
  • Continue to address medical and mental health issues.
  • Complete program exit interview
  • DUI Court Commencement

DUI Court Graduation Tree
DUI Court Graduation Tree