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Early Results of DUI/DWI Courts Promising



Early results of the new DUI/DWI courts appear to show that these courts have been successful in reducing the number of repeat DUIs. DUI/DWI courts are different from the standard court system that determines if laws have been violated, and then imposes penalties in the way of fines or jail time. The newer DUI/DWI courts focus on treating the disease of alcoholism rather than just punishing offenders with fines and prison sentences.

DUI/DWI Courts Target Alcoholics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is promoting DUI/DWI courts as an effective way to curb drunk driving. Although all drivers arrested and convicted of DUI/DWI are not alcoholics, a large percentage, especially among repeat offenders, are. The head of the NHTSA, Dr. Jeffrey Runge noted that most Americans make the right choice between having one or six drinks on the way home from work. However, some cannot because of their addiction to alcohol. The DUI/DWI courts are designed for these drivers.

Substance Abuse Intervention and Treatment

The DUI/DWI courts are set up to provide substance abuse and interventions and treatment. However, these courts are not just a way around the standard penalties of fines, jail time, and license revocations that repeat offenders would likely receive in traditional courts. In order to qualify for DUI/DWI court treatment, offenders must agree to abstain completely from any use of alcohol. In order to enforce this, the DUI/DWI courts can impact a large portion of an offender's everyday life. Some participants in these programs are required to wear devices that allow their blood alcohol content to be monitored daily. Others will receive unannounced visits from police to obtain drug or alcohol tests, and can then be tested again just a few hours later to make sure that they didn't "relapse" after the first test.

Encouraging Results So Far

So far, the results from the DUI/DWI courts have been promising. In one area, offenders who had repeat DUI convictions averaged around 45 percent. With the institution of the DUI/DWI court in 2007, the repeat offender rate dropped to 13.5 percent. With results such as this, the approximately 60 DUI/DWI courts are expected to grow in number substantially. The reduced number of repeat convictions and the active backing of the NHTSA means that we can expect to see more DUI/DWI courts in the near future.

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