DWI Courts Emerging as Alternative to Fines, Jail

It’s no secret that serious fines, jail time, and lengthy or permanent license suspensions can follow a conviction on drunk driving charges. The penalty for being found guilty of DUI or DWI can potentially upend a person’s entire life, putting a brake on not only their finances and mobility, but also marrying them to a negative social stigma that can last long after a sentence has been served.

Part of a wider attempt to more comprehensively change and correct the behavior of those caught up in America’s court system, relatively new and nontraditional DWI courts have been increasingly commended for their success rate. Similar to the “drug courts” that have seen success both in Missouri and across the nation in their emphasis on treatment rather than punishment, these courts attempt to address the medical and social causes of one’s drunk driving, rather than simply doling out fines and jail time.

DWI courts frequently target behaviors of addiction and recidivism amongst drunk drivers. In these cases, drivers are redirected into proactive treatment programs and spared from fines or the loss of their license. “There is simply no better way for a community to take a stand against drunk driving than to implement a DWI court,” asserted the Senior Director at the National Center for Driving While Intoxicated Courts.

The NCDC in its own reports have noted that those treated in DWI courts were up to 65 percent less likely to be rearrested for a new drunk driving offense. The center underlines the comprehensive treatment courts’ ability to stop repeat offenses, protect public safety, and save both defendants and taxpayers money.

DWI courts will likely appear more and more frequently as a sentencing option, perhaps even a priority, in drunk driving cases. These and other sentence alternatives can be explored with the help of a defense attorney,

Source: Parkersburg News and Sentinel, “DUI fatalities down nationwide,” Pamela Brust, Dec. 27, 2012

  • DWI courts may be the perfect outcome of a drunk driving arrest and charge. For more information, contact our St. Louis DWI defense page.
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