SERIES: What Are DUI or DWI Courts Like?

Gavel statue for court

There are DUI/DWI offenders who repeat their crime of drinking and driving. These offenders are a public safety issue because of their repeat drunk driving offenses. And in some cases the driver has a BAC level well above the legal limit, even double in some drivers.

So how do DUI or DWI courts stop this dangerous behavior?

What DUI or DWI Courts Do

DUI or DWI Courts could change a participant’s life for the better through a specialized treatment approach rather than jail or prison. These specialty courts follow the successful Drug Court model, which has been proven to be effective with its graduates for the past 20 years.

The DUI or DWI Court is a post-conviction court system. Their goal is to change participants’ behavior due in part because of alcohol dependency and/or severe abuse. There are also hybrid courts with DWI offenders participating, which usually consists of a combination of DWI and drug court. DUI or DWI Courts usually implement their monitoring of an offender’s sobriety through various tools such as Ignition Interlocks. These are devices installed in a driver’s vehicle and tests the driver’s breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) before starting the vehicle.

Specialty Courts Work

A large body of research supports DUI or DWI Court’s effectiveness to lead participants out of the justice system and into long-term sobriety.

DUI or DWI Courts have a theory on impaired driving. Impaired driving can be prevented if the underlying causes, like substance addiction and mental health issues, can be identified and addressed. Right now, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), there are a little more than 700 DUI or DWI Courts in the U.S.

DUI or DWI Court Results in States

States who have a DUI or DWI Court are seeing the positive results as well.

A study in Michigan states that participants in DUI Court were 19 times less likely to be re-arrested for another impaired driving offense than those processed through a traditional court. It also found that DUI or DWI Courts are cost-effective and efficient.

A DWI Court in Georgia also saw that participants had a recidivism rate of 15 percent compared to a 35 percent recidivism rate among  offenders in traditional courts.

Expansion of DUI or DWI Courts

The National Center for DWI Courts (NCDC) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR) are working together to expand DUI or DWI Courts throughout the U.S.

The organizations are combining their efforts to conduct nationwide tours and promote the effective tactics against drunk driving. Their main goal is to educate stakeholders and lawmakers on DUI or DWI Courts and its proven success. But the one tool and technology they are also promoting are Ignition Interlock Devices.

The Tool Against Drunk Driving: Ignition Interlocks

Ignition Interlock Devices are powerful when implemented the right way in drunk driving law. For example, all-offender Ignition Interlock laws in states see a greater decrease in drunk driving deaths and offender recidivism than those states that do not yet have comprehensive Ignition Interlock laws as a part of their drunk driving statutes. As of January 2018, 30 states and D.C. have an all-offender Ignition Interlock in place. The remaining 20 states only require the device for repeat offenses, test refusals or high-BAC offenders.

Combining the right tools and treatment options such as DUI or DWI Court leave safer roadways and participants on the right path to recovery.

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