Drunk driving arrests are heavily demonized by the public, who often see it as people making a selfish choice that puts others in danger. However, people who deal with DUIs every day understand that often times, a DUI is a substance abuse issue, and should be treated differently than other criminal or traffic offenses. Some jurisdictions are now developing dedicated DUI treatment courts to tackle DUIs with a more holistic approach. Will Contra Costa and Alameda Counties be next?
The Monterey County Superior Court recently announced a new DUI treatment court program. The aim of the multifaceted court is to reduce DUI recidivism, and provide a path for alcohol and drug treatment and recovery, as well as increase public safety. The court will work with probation, the DA, public defender, sheriff's department as well as the behavioral health department in handling DUI cases.
Drug treatment courts operate in a similar manner, and were the basis for expanding this more comprehensive treatment model to DUI cases across the country. However, the DUI court is not for all DUI offenders. First-time DUIs can be the result of a simple mistake, or even overzealous police officers. DUI treatment court is aimed at people who have gotten their second or third DUI, which can be an indication of possible substance abuse.
Orange County, which also has a DUI treatment program, details the acceptance process. Applicants cannot have a criminal record involving violent crimes or drug sale, and they have to recognize a substance abuse problem with a willingness to change. They also have to be interviewed for acceptance in the program by a health therapist and police officer.
Presiding Judge Marla O. Anderson believes the DUI court will have a positive impact on individuals and the community. “Studies have shown that incarceration as the sole accountability measure is not always a remedy,” Judge Anderson said. “The DUI Treatment Court is a vital strategy to reduce re-offense, prevent injuries and save lives that could be lost due to alcohol-impaired driving accidents.”
The new treatment court is part of a 1-year pilot program, with funding from the the California Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There are now nine DUI treatment courts in California, and their perceived success may result in more counties opening a dedicated DUI court with treatment as part of the overall process.
DUI courts are intended to increase accountability for high risk offenders by having them participate in a combined treatment, education, oversight, testing and supervision program. The primary goals are to reduce recidivism, reduce alcohol and drug abuse, and increase the likelihood of rehabilitation. According to Sonoma County, their DUI Court program has a greater than 90% retention rate for participants.
At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people facing DUI charges in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the local criminal laws, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve. Contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.
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