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.
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.
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.
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).
To advance to Phase II:
Completed jail time, completed all assessments, submitted up to three consecutive clean urine screens, pay no less than $100 assessment fee, signed Phase II contract.
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.
To advance to Phase IV:
Completed all phase requirements, must be employed and/or attending school, completed DUI School/VIP, minimum of 90 days clean and sober, current on program fees, signed Phase IV contract.
DUI Court Graduation Tree