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What is a Sobriety Court?
Simply Put: Sobriety Court is a DWI accountability court dedicated to
changing the behavior of DWI Offenders through intensive supervision
Punishment, unaccompanied by treatment and accountability, is an ineffective
deterrent for repeat offenders.
The outcome for the offender is continued dependence on alcohol; for the community, continued peril.
A new strategy exists to fight these hardcore impaired drivers, generally called "DWI Courts" or "DWI/Drug Courts."
A DWI Court is an accountability court dedicated to changing the behavior of the
repeat offenders arrested for DWI.
The goal of DWI Court or DWI/Drug
Court is to protect public safety by using the highly successful
Drug Court model that uses accountability and long-term treatment to
address the root cause of impaired driving: alcohol and other
Recognizing that treating repeat DWI offenders is complex and
requires a combination of countermeasures is just as, important as understanding that the type and timing of the intervention is
critical to curbing these offenders' illegal and dangerous behaviors
(National Association of State Judicial Educators, 2004). This is consistent with a
National Traffic Safety Board report which suggests the importance of quickly identifying and
intervening with those drivers having the highest rates of alcohol-impaired driving (Quinlan et al., 2005)
With the repeat offender as its primary target population, DWI Courts follow
Defining Drug Courts: The Key Components (NADCP, 1997) and the more recent
Guiding Principles of DWI Courts.
Unlike Drug Courts, however, DWI Courts operate within a post-conviction model. This notion is supported in a resolution by National Mothers Against
Drunk Driving (MADD) stating "MADD recommends that DUI/DWI Courts should not be
used to avoid a record of conviction and/or license sanctions."
In addition to MADD the following organizations have also passed resolutions in support of DWI Courts:
As of December 2009, there are 172 designated DWI Courts. In addition, there are another 354 Hybrid DWI/Drug Courts in operation. (A Hybrid DWI/Drug Court is one that started out as a Drug Court that now also takes DWI Offenders) That brings the total number of specialized courts dealing with repeat impaired drivers to 526.