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Sobriety Court

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Research

DWI Courts Are Showing Success

Early studies of DWI Courts have shown successful results. Numerous individual courts have evaluated their program to find a significant reduction in recidivism.

Furthermore, a three-county evaluation in Michigan found that participants in DWI Courts were considerably less likely than DWI offenders sentenced in a traditional court to be arrested for a new DWI offense or for any new criminal offense within 2 years of entering the programs.

The study was conducted by the Michigan State Court Administrative Office and data analyses were performed independently by NPC Research, Inc. The study examined outcomes for all participants who entered the programs, regardless of whether they graduated successfully, and drew on comparison offenders from the same counties who were matched on relevant eligibility criteria.

Some of the conclusions of the study were:

  • DWI Court participants were re-arrested significantly less often than comparison group offenders who were sentenced in a traditional court. In an example from one DWI Court site, the comparison offenders from a traditional court were re-arrested nearly six times more often in the first year after starting probation for the DWI charge than the DWI Court participants.
  • In another example, in a 2-year period, traditional sentenced offenders in the comparison group were more than three (3) times more likely to be re-arrested for any charge and were nineteen (19) times more likely to be re-arrested for a DWI charge than the DWI Court participants.
  • Participants in the DWI Court significantly decreased the percent of positive drug tests over time. This provides support that the DWI Court was instrumental in reducing the amount of illegal drug use during the first year participants spend in the program.
  • Results show that DWI Court participants spent considerably more time in treatment than those sentenced in a traditional court. Further, the average waiting period between arrest and sentencing was significantly reduced in the DWI Court.
  • The number of days spent in jail prior to program or probation start and the total time in jail for that DWI case was also significantly reduced, thus saving the criminal justice system time and money.
  • Time enrolled in the program was higher for DWI Court participants. Longer time spent in the program predicts success both in completing the program and in reducing recidivism.

To read the Executive Summary of the Michigan Study, click here.

To read the complete Michigan Study, click here.