The Sarasota County DUI Court began June of 2008 within the 12th Judicial Circuit. This specialized court is very unique being only the third of its kind in the entire state of Florida.
The Sarasota DUI Court is dedicated to changing behavior targeting offenders who are alcohol dependent and currently charged with a DUI having one or more prior DUI arrest(s). It’s 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 mandatory counseling, case management, drug and alcohol testing, and community supervision. Statistics from operational DUI Courts show that recidivism decreases substantially after completion the highest level of accountability.
Upon acceptance of the offender’s plea to the 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 and complete all phases of DUI Court.
Each participant’s progress will be reported to the entire DUI Court through weekly team staffings held prior to the status conference court proceeding. 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 will be discussed, along with any program violations and recommendations. The judge finalizes 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. Participants are also required to pay their mandatory minimum fines and supervision costs as ordered. Mandatory contribution from participants has therapeutic benefits, allowing participants to be empowered having a sense of ownership through their steps of sobriety and recovery.
- Defendant currently charged with Driving Under the Influence.
- Defendant has 1 or more prior arrest(s).
- 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 Sarasota County
- 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
If a defendant is interested in participating in DUI Court an assessment is arranged by contacting 941-861-8120. The defendant will be clinically assessed to see if they meet eligibility criteria. If they do, the screener will inform the defense attorney that the defendant qualifies. The defense attorney will then explain to the defendant the terms and decide if the program is the right choice.
DUI Court is designed to improve the quality of life for individuals struggling with alcohol-related decisions. By participating in DUI Court, a defendant has a structured probation with support to assist through various life challenges that are associated with a conviction for multiple DUIs. By creating positive relationships with the judge and people similarly situated, defendants can end their probation in a better position than when they were placed on probation. Participation in DUI court has shown to lead to shorter incarceration and a drastic drop in recidivism for individuals who take their participation seriously. Graduates of the program enjoy further support through alumni meetings and activities.