Did you recently get arrested and charged with a DUI in Florida? It turns out there are multiple Florida DUI diversion programs that may help you mitigate the damage, and reduce your sentence or probation and get you back to your normal life.

The exact programs and details vary by county, and the severity of the incident that caused you to get arrested.

Here are some of the major DUI diversion programs available in Florida.

Why consider a pre-trial diversion program?

If it looks like you won’t be able to beat a DUI charge and gain an acquittal outright – or if the risk of a guilty verdict  in a DUI trial is simply a gamble you can’t afford to lose, you might consider participating in Florida DUI Diversion program.

A DUI conviction on your record would make it hard to get a job, rent an apartment, get a loan, adopt a child, or move for custody of your own children. A DUI conviction could also be a career-ender in certain fields, including law enforcement, military, and any job requiring a CDL.

Additionally, a DUI conviction could cause your car insurance rates to increase significantly. And that’s just the beginning of the potential costs you’re looking at with a Florida DUI conviction.

A pre-trial diversion program takes certain DUI first-offenders and routes them outside of the criminal justice system. So you may be able to avoid a jury trial and a DUI on your record. Instead, depending on the program, you may be able to get the charge reduced, or adjudication withheld, so there’s no conviction on your record (as long as you keep up the requirements of the program and don’t reoffend!).

You’ll still face fines, community service, DUI school, MADD victim impact panels, and possibly higher car insurance premiums. But the consequences will be much less severe than an actual DUI conviction on your record.

DROP – The Florida DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program

The DROP program ins a relatively new initiative in Florida. Under DROP, certain first-time DUI offenders have the opportunity to have their DUI charges reduced to a reckless driving charge. It’s only available in certain counties, including Pinellas County, Florida.

Eligible offenders must complete a DUI awareness course, complete 20 hours of community service, and go through a victim impact panel from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.).

The program isn’t available to everyone: Florida imposes a long list of exclusions. You are not eligible for the DROP program if:

  • Your B.A.C. is over .150 at the time of arrest
  • The crash involved bodily injury, significant property damage, or minor children
  • There are pending or accompanying felony charges
  • You’re already on probation
  • You have already committed a similar offense
  • You’ve already entered a diversion program in Florida
  • You did not have valid driver’s license at the time of the offense
  • You held a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) at the time you were arrested.

To be eligible for the DROP program, you must meet all the above criteria. You must also apply for the DROP program before your 2nd pretrial hearing for your offense.

If you’re admitted to the program, once you complete your community service, victim impact panel, and your DUI school course, the State will reduce your charge from DUI to reckless driving under Florida statute 316.192(5).

The DROP program has two tiers, depending mostly on your BAC at the time of your arrest.

Tier 1 is for BAC levels of 0.120 or less, or for drug-related DUI offenses.

  • six months of probation
  • fines and fees;
  • fifty (50) community service hours;
  • ten (10) day vehicle immobilization;
  • no consumption of alcohol/illegal drugs/non-prescribed drugs and no bars, clubs, or establishments where alcoholic beverages are primarily served while on probation; and
  • mandatory random alcohol/drug testing at your expense.

If your BAC was 0.120 or greater at the time of your arrest, up to 0.15, you’ll fall under Tier 2. Here’s what you can expect under the DROP program:

  • nine (9) months probation – fines and fees – fifty (50) community service hours;
  • ten (10) day vehicle immobilization;
  • no consumption of alcohol/illegal drugs/non-prescribed drugs and no bars, clubs, or establishments where alcoholic beverages are primarily served; and
  • mandatory random alcohol/drug testing at Defendant’s expense.

For Tier 1 offenses under the DROP program, the adjudication will be withheld. For Tier 2 offenses, you’ll have an adjudication record of guilty of reckless driving on your record.


RIDR – Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism

RIDR is another similar pre-trial diversion program established by the Florida State Attorney’s Office (SAO). established the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (“RIDR”) initiative. It’s currently offered only in select counties, including Hillsborough (Tampa and surrounding cities).

Like DROP, the RIDR program is only available to first offenders with no aggravating factors surrounding their case.

The State Attorney’s Office will consider each case on an individual basis. However, the following circumstances disqualify applicants from consideration for the RIDR program:

1. Felony DUI charges. Only misdemeanors are eligible.

2. Minors in the vehicle,

3. BAC of .20 or higher

4. A crash

5. Prior history of DUI, alcohol-related reckless driving, DWLS with serious bodily injury or death, leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death, or vehicular homicide

6. Prior participation in a DUI diversion program

7. Prior participation in more than one non-DUI diversion program as an adult, or, in the five years prior to the date of offense, no adjudication, a withhold, or any portion of a sentence on a felony.

To participate in RIDR, you must also have no pending Florida driver’s license suspensions, no pending DUIs, no pending charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license (DWLS) with serious bodily injury or death, no pending charges of leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death, vehicular homicide, or participation in a pre-trial intervention or probation.

The eligibility requirements aren’t hard and fast. Participation in RIDR is at the sole discretion of the State Attorney’s office. They may take into account relevant information not listed here. So you could be denied the chance to participate in RIDR even if you meet all the published eligibility criteria above.

The RIDR program has three “tiers,” depending on the severity of the original offense.

Level 1 – BAC level of 0.15 or lower

Level 2 – BAC score of 0.15 or above, or no breath sample

Level 3 – DUI involving drugs

RIDR Process

When you are cleared to participate in RIDR, you must waive your right to a speedy trial. Instead, the judge at your arraignment hearing will schedule your case for disposition in about 60 days. That gives you time to complete the RIDR program requirements.

At a minimum, all RIDR participants must:

  • Complete DUI school and begin recommended treatment;
  • Attend the MADD Victim Impact Panel
  • Complete 10 hours of community service.
  • Remain crime free

Level 1 offenders must complete another 50 hours of community service.

They must also install a an Intoxa-Lock or other similar engine interlock device on their vehicles for three months, or submit to continuous alcohol monitoring.

Level 2 offenders must complete another 75 hours of community service. They must also install an Intoxa-Lock or other similar device on their cars for six months, or submit to six months of continuous alcohol monitoring.

Level 3 offenders must complete an additional 50 hours of community service, They must also wear a PharmCheck Drugs of Abuse patch for three months, with the results forwarded to the county probation department.

You must complete all program requirements BEFORE your scheduled disposition hearing. You must then provide proof of completion to the state attorney’s office.

At your disposition hearing, the state attorney will offer you the opportunity to plead guilty to the lesser charge of reckless driving. This carries much lower penalties. It’s also much less likely to permanently end a career as a professional driver.


Florida Safety Council Pretrial Diversion Program

If you’re arrested for DUI in Orlando or elsewhere in Orange County, and you’re a first offender with no other aggravating factors, you may be eligible for the Florida Safety Council Pretrial Diversion Program.

You can’t refer yourself to this program, and your defense attorney can’t refer you directly. You can only participate via the Florida State’s Attorney’s office.


  • Misdemeanor DUI charges only.
  • No prior sentence, conviction or dismissal for a similar charge.
  • No prior alcohol-related driving offenses, regardless of disposition.
  • No more than one prior misdemeanor sentence for a dissimilar offense
  • No prior deferred prosecution/diversion programs, no prior juvenile programs, no prior felony sentences
  • Legal residence in the United States
  • Approval by the Office of the State Attorney.

This program has two tiers:

Tier 1: 

  • Up to $500 monetary contribution to the Florida Safety Council
  • DUI School with the Florida Safety Council
  • Victim Impact Class through Florida Safety Council
  • 10-day Vehicle Impoundment/Immobilization
  • Law Enforcement Investigative Costs (includes drug/alcohol testing at time of arrest)
  • Random observed urine screens (no additional cost for on-site testing)

Tier 2: 

  • Up to $1000 monetary contribution, monetary contributions may be made to Florida Safety Council.
  • You may split your donation between organizations.
  • DUI School with the Florida Safety Council
  • 6-month MANDATORY Ignition Interlock
  • Law Enforcement Investigative Costs (includes drug/alcohol testing at time of arrest)
  • Random observed urine screens (no additional cost for on-site testing)

Program participants may have additional costs to pay for different programs, in addition to the monetary contribution to the Florida Safety Council.

Note: If you’ve been rejected for a pre-trial diversion program for whatever reason, don’t give up. Many cases are resolved on similar terms, even outside of a formal pre-trial diversion program like DROP or RIDR or the Florida Safety Council programs.

This is where it pays to have a good attorney who knows the system and the details of your case, and us willing to keep working your case throughout the process.

Prosecutors want to get cases off their desks, and have wide latitude to make deals that make good sense for the taxpayer and are in the interests of justice.

Facing an Engine Interlock Device Requirement? 

Many DUI sentences and some diversion programs may require you to have an engine interlock device installed on your car as a condition of probation and license reinstatement. Those are those machines you blow into and it reads your blood alcohol level when you start your car. If your BAC is above the threshold, it won’t let you start your car.

This will be at your expense: You have to pay for the installation and later (hopefully!) the removal of the device. You’ll also have to pay a monthly rental fee as long as the device is installed on your vehicle.

If you have an engine interlock requirement, give us a call. Select Insurance Group has an exclusive arrangement with Intoxa-Lock, one of the leading engine interlock device manufacturers in the U.S. If we’re your car insurance agent, you’ll be eligible for a 25% discount on your engine interlock device rental with participating vendors.

Get Ahead of the Insurance Game

Once you’re arrested for a DUI, even if the charges are later reduced or dropped, you may face an administrative license suspension. You’ll only be able to get your license reinstated once you have your insurance company file an SR22 or, in Florida, an FR44 document, verifying that you carry the required level of liability insurance.

It’s critical to shop around for car insurance – especially at this juncture, since you are now considered a high-risk driver.

Every carrier is different, and their premiums for high-risk drivers are all over the map. They can be wildly different from one insurance company to another.

The best way to ensure that you’re being treated fairly by the insurance companies and not being taken for a ride is to keep them honest by getting quotes from as many different car insurance companies as possible. Make them compete for your business!

The more money you can save on car insurance by getting competing quotes and going with the best value, the more money you will have to hire the best DUI attorney you possibly can.

And that’s important.

Trust me: I’ve been where you are.

I made one mistake years ago, and got behind the wheel when I shouldn’t have. It cost me a lot. And I found that most insurance agents don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to DUI car insurance, SR 22 insurance, and other high-risk and non-standard risk drivers.

Most agencies I talked to treated me like a second class citizen. I hated it.

And others were captive to a single company. Not independent like us. So they couldn’t help me shop around for the best available car insurance policy even if they wanted to!

And that’s why I started Select Insurance Group: The ONLY nationwide independent car insurance agency. We’re licensed in all the Lower 48 states (not Alaska and Hawaii yet). And we can help you shop as many as a dozen or more different carriers in your state with a single phone call or email.

And our services are FREE. It costs you nothing to have us help you comparison shop multiple carriers in your state.

Just click here, fill out a quick form telling us about your car and your situation, and we’ll get to work.

Good luck with this long and frustrating process. It’s going to be rough for the next one to three years, as long as you’ve got an SR 22 requirement. But you can get past this. I promise you, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

See you on the road!

Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig
CEO, Select Insurance Group



For Further Reading

DUI Diversion Programs – What You Need to Know

What Is SR22 Insurance and How To Get It

Florida SR22 Insurance 

What’s the Difference Between SR22 and FR44 In Florida

What Is a Court-Ordered FR-2 in Florida?