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A second chance for first-time drunk driving charges

When faced with charges of drinking and driving, first-time offenders are up against a serious list of repercussions. If a conviction is obtained by the prosecution, an individual charged with his or her first drunk driving offense could face fines ranging from $500 to $2,000, as well as a minimum six-month loss of driving privileges, probation, community service or even jail time. A new program, however, offers some Florida residents a second chance after a first drunk driving arrest.

Those who choose to participate in the program are required to adhere to strict rules. Among these is the use of various alcohol monitoring devices, some of which are used daily to ensure that participants are not using alcohol. The cost of these devices must be borne by the offender, and monitoring lasts for a minimum of three months.

In addition, in order to gain entry into the program, offenders must enter a guilty plea for charges of misdemeanor reckless driving. They are able to retain their driver's license. In addition, no points will be added to their driving record.

Florida officials are hopeful that the program will help those who are facing a first offense for drunk driving to make a meaningful change in their lives. In addition, the program has gained the seal of approval from the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in the belief that the monitoring devices will help keep area roadways safe. For those in Florida who have been charged with drunk driving and are considering their options, this may be a topic to broach with one's defense attorney.

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "First-time DUI offender monitoring program in Palm Beach County not for everyone", Marc Freeman, Oct. 12, 2014

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