Most people learn a hard lesson after being charged with drunk driving their first time. A DUI or DWI stays on your permanent criminal record and can drastically limit future opportunities. However, some people do not learn their lesson and continue to drive drunk, these are referred to as hardcore offenders in the court system. In Twin Falls, Idaho, a DUI Court coordinator is seeing success with a DUI Court program that is helping repeat DUI offenders stay sober and prevent re-offending.
Twin Fall County received a three-year grant in 2006 which helped fund the creation of the DUI Court program. Every participant in DUI Court must pay a monthly fee of $100 which covers drug and alcohol tests. Participants are required to show up to court once a week to check-in on their progress. The program requires ignition interlock devices for anyone who continues to operate a vehicle, which they may do if they can obtain a restricted license through the program which only allows them to travel to and from work or school.
DUI court requires participants to attend court every Wednesday morning at 7:30am to speak with a judge and answer a weekly question. As they progress they are allowed to attend course less frequently. While speaking with the judge, participants can request support from the court and even discuss individual problems.
If a participant is absent from DUI court, assigned therapy, or other treatment, then the judge may issue a warning or sentence mandatory community service or jail time.
DUI Court is open to the public, allowing anyone who is curious or interested to show up as an observer. Judge Kershaw sees a positive impact from the program. He says that those who successfully graduate from DUI Court are much less likely to re-offend.
In DUI Court, the emphasis is placed on treating the problem of alcoholism rather than shaming and penalizing the offender. These types of programs have been in use in the United States since 1997, and many courts across the country are lauding their success.