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DWLS Diversion Program in Broward County, FL

The DWLS Diversion program in Broward County was created to enhance the expediency, effectiveness, and quality Misdemeanor Criminal Traffic offense of Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) so that the defendant can regain and retain their Florida driving privileges. 

The program encourages drivers to drive safely with a valid driver’s license, with proper equipment, with proper insurance coverage, and with sufficient driver education. By encouraging those charged with DWLS to pay or make recompense for child support, fines, court costs and other financial responsibilities, the program benefits the community.

Anyone who wishes to enter the DWLS diversion program must follow all rules and regulations as determined by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Probation Department as well as the State Attorney’s Office for Broward County.

Attorney for the DWLS Diversion Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Entering the “Driving While License Suspension (DWLS) Diversion Program” in Fort Lauderdale in Broward County, FL,  may or may not be the best possible result in your case, especially if you are a first-time offender. If you are not guilty of the crime of driving while license suspended, then the best result is getting the charges dismissed outright.

Even if you are guilty, it might be much better to hire an attorney who can get the charge reduce to “no valid driver’s license” and convince the court to “withhold adjudication” so that you do not have to be supervised or be on probation. Hiring an attorney is often a much cheaper and faster way to resolve the case.

Call the criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, FL, at Meltzer & Bell to discuss your criminal charges for any driving offense such as driving while license suspended or no valid driver’s license. Call us to find out more about the twelve (12) diversion programs offered in Broward County, FL. 

Call (954) 765-6585 today.

Disposition of the Case in the DWLS Diversion Program

Many criminal defense attorneys in Broward County are critical of the DWLS diversion program because after doing all the work to complete the program, the person still ends up with a criminal record and must serve probation. Any violation of probation can result in jail time. A much better result in these cases is just getting the charge dismissed outright or getting the DWLS reduced to “No Valid” with a withhold of adjudication. 

After the person completes all of the requirements of the diversion phase, the person must resolve the DWLS charge by way of a guilty plea to the changed charge of No Valid Driver’s License, as well as pleading guilty or no contest to any other accompanying charges.

The negotiated sentence for the changed charge will consist of an Adjudication to the charge of No Valid Driver’s License, six (6) months of non-reporting administrative probation (with no early termination). Special conditions of said probation include:  

  • maintaining a valid driver’s license here in the State of Florida;
  • may not commit any criminal offenses, or civil traffic infractions that are moving violations; and
  • the participant must maintain motor vehicle insurance for all vehicles owned or operated by the participant.

History of the DWLS Diversion Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL 

The DWLS diversion program became effective on February 1, 2007, through Administrative Order VI-07-N-1 which was signed by the Chief Judge for the Circuit Court of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in Broward County. The order was signed in the Courthouse Chambers in Fort Lauderdale, FL, on January 26, 2007.

The administrative order concerns the creation of the misdemeanor diversion program for the offense of driving while license suspended. The administrative order was entered pursuant to Rule 2.050 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.

What is the DWLS Diversion Program in Broward County?

Under the rules of the program and if all eligibility requirements are met, any person arrested for the misdemeanor offense of DWLS may participate in the Broward County Misdemeanor Diversion Program for DWLS as created by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office. This voluntary program is operated by Probation and the State Attorney’s Office. 

An eligible person or his or her attorney may request admission into the Program within 30 days of the arraignment, or if no arraignment is held due to the filing of a written plea, within 30 days after a written plea of not guilty is filed, or within 30 days of the inception of the Program. 

The applicant of the DWLS program shall apply through the Probation department before the first status conference or calendar call. 

Eligibility Requirements for the DWLS Diversion Program

The current change may be for any eligible DWLS charge, but the applicant is only allowed to complete the Program once. At the beginning of the program, all eligible charges that are currently pending can be included. A person can enter the program even if that person has previously entered another diversion program. A person is also permitted to enter the program with a limited prior criminal history, unless the prior charge is noted below. If the person has a prior record, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office be determined by the State on a case-by-case basis.

The administrative order states that it is within the sole discretion of the State Attorney’s Office to make any exceptions to or waivers of the above eligibility requirements, program requirements, or procedural considerations. 

The applicant must be charged in the instant offense with Misdemeanor DWLS where the license was only suspended for one of the following reasons: 

  • failure to pay penalty;
  • failure to appear;
  • failure to complete traffic school (except D.U.I. school);
  • failure to pay child support; or
  • failure to satisfy financial responsibility/insurance/judgments.

The person applying for the program is not eligible if:

  • the person is currently classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender or has previously been subjected to a five-year revocation as a habitual traffic offender;
  • the person’s license has been previously or currently “permanently” suspended or revoked;
  • the person’s prior criminal record includes a conviction or suspension on his/her license for the offense of DUI or a Chapter 893 violation for a drug offense;
  • the person does not have a prior withhold of adjudication or adjudication for a felony driving / traffic offense in Florida or any other jurisdiction;
  • the person was not involved in a traffic crash where the applicant was deemed by law enforcement to be at fault;
  • the current offense cannot have been part of a Felony charge or arrest; or
  • the person cannot have had the instant offense previously disposed of by way of plea or trial, and then subsequently vacated or set aside said plea, conviction or sentence.

Requirements for the DWLS Diversion Program

The applicant, upon acceptance into the Program, must abide by the rules and regulations of the Program, including, but not limited to the following: 

  • a written admission of guilt;
  • an educational component;
  • take all necessary steps to obtain a valid Florida’s Driver’s License, including paying or satisfying all outstanding citations, fines and court costs, fees, child support payments and judgments;
  • obtaining motor vehicle insurance for all vehicles owned and operated by the participant;
  • all previously cited equipment violations must be corrected;
  • if necessary, the driver may have to complete driving school, as determined by Probation, and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles; and
  • the person must be gainfully employed or actively seek employment which can be assisted by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office D.O.C.C. Employment Program.

While in the DWLS Diversion Program, any arrest or charge for any criminal offense, or traffic infraction that is a moving violation, will result in automatic termination of the participant’s participation in the Program.

The participant will have up to 90 days to complete the diversion phase of the Program, but may successfully complete the diversion phase as soon as all conditions are satisfied.

The diversion phase of the Program may be extended by Probation only if the participant is unable to complete for financial reasons, but is continuing to make his or her best efforts to do so.

Procedural Considerations for the DWLS Diversion Program

If an applicant indicates a desire to participate in the Program, an initial Preliminary Recommendation Memorandum will be completed by an Assistant State Attorney from the County Court division.

The applicant shall sign the form and waive his or her Right to Discovery and a Speedy Trial. If the applicant is represented by an attorney, the attorney shall also sign the form. If an interpreter is utilized the interpreter shall also sign the form.

The original form (white) shall be filed with the Clerk. The blue copy shall be sent to the Program. The yellow copy shall be kept by the applicant. The pink copy shall be retained by the State.

The applicant must obtain a copy of his or her driving record either from the Court Clerk while in the courtroom or at the Clerk of Court counter for a cost, and with such and the yellow copy of the form, the applicant shall go to probation and sign up for the Program no later than the end of the following business day.

In order to participate in the DWLS Diversion Program the applicant must be a legal resident of the United States, with a verifiable address. If the applicant is a citizen of another country, the applicant must provide proof that he or she was in the country legally when the offense was committed.

Once accepted, the participant must remain in the country while the case is pending, unless the participant is deployed to active military duty, is a student studying abroad, or is a foreign national who no longer has permission to remain in the United States. 

If the participant has more than one open eligible criminal traffic matter pending, the Clerk shall transfer all eligible criminal traffic matters to the division with the open eligible criminal traffic matter with the earliest incident date, regardless of where located. If the participant has any open traffic infractions (pending or open due to outstanding obligations) that the participant cannot readily dispose of or satisfy, unless the matter has already been submitted to a collection agency, said matters shall be transferred to the division with the open eligible criminal traffic matter with the earliest incident date, regardless of where located.

The Program will assist the Clerk in identifying such cases by providing a list of prospective matters for transfer. Once all eligible matters are consolidated before one Judge as noted above, the Judge may dispose of pending outstanding monetary obligations by ordering public works or community service as provided by law. Such may be done in open court or upon review of financial affidavits provided by the Program to the Judge in chambers. If such is ordered, the Program will provide public works projects or community service opportunities and monitor compliance with the Court’s orders.

This article was last updated on Friday, April 27, 2018.

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