Georgia’s DUI Accountability Courts were created with the desire to hold a driver responsible for his drunk driving and to rehabilitate the person by treating the underlying problems behind the alcohol abuse.
The DUI court ‘team’ does this by trading a conviction and possible jail time for the Georgia defendant agreeing to enter a drunk driving program. The program consists of testing and treatment, submitting to random drug and alcohol screening, attending recurring court sessions before a judge, retaining a job, providing for his family and paying all fees and fines. In some cases, the person will be required to attend school.
Who is on the Georgia accountability team?
Central to the success of Georgia’s DUI Courts is the team of people committed to seeing a positive result. This team includes the prosecutor, judge, defense attorney, police officer, alcohol/drug evaluator and treatment provider.
The process for the DUI program
- Targeting the appropriate offender
Unlike other states, Georgia recommends the multiple offender for DUI Court. They usually take someone who gets their second DUI within five years, or their third overall. Exceptions can be made for someone who gets their first DUI and has other alcohol-related offenses or shows signs of having an underlying addiction.
- Screening all participants
A drug/alcohol assessment will be performed on all participants in the program to determine their level of need so clinicians can put together a program that best addresses that participant’s weaknesses and limitations.
- Keeping a close eye on participants
Supervising DUI offenders while they are within this program is vital. They accomplish this through random drug tests, unannounced home visits, regular court appointments and possible curfews.
- Gaining a community consensus
Community support is important. Local businesses and leaders are made aware of the programs and encouraged to provide sponsorship.
- Addressing the transportation issue
Like other states, when a person is arrested for a DUI in Georgia, they lose their license. This makes it difficult for program participants to maintain employment and attend all required court dates and rehabilitation meetings. The DUI court program includes the completion of state re-licensing allowing its’ members to get their license back so they can drive legally.
How long does the program last?
Each person and case is different, but the typical length of time spent in the program is between 12 and 24 months.
Do the DUI Accountability Courts work?
In a recent study it was determined that a person who graduates from the DUI Court only has an 8% chance that they will be arrested and convicted of another DUI in the future. Furthermore, in another independent study, it was determined that the Georgia DUI Courts have prevented between 47 and 112 DUI arrests over a 4 year period.
Based on their effectiveness, DUI Courts are increasing around the country. The supervision and intense therapy they provide have enacted positive changes in the participants’ lives. Georgia has proven to have a successful model for other states to study and replicate.
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