DUI Courts are saving lives
Program helps keep probationers sober and clean and our roads a safer place
Mar. 21, 2006 12:00 AM
Over the past several weeks, The Arizona Republic has published several articles about the "DUI Courts" established by the Maricopa County Superior Court. It is important for the public to understand the reasons behind this award-winning probation program and how it actually operates.
In 2004, there were 435 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Arizona. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time. And Maricopa County Superior Court handles more than 3,000 aggravated felony DUI cases every year.
In order to save lives, Maricopa County Superior Court created a DUI probation program known as DUI Court. Its proven track record of success shows that this program breaks the deadly cycle of recidivism. It is a program that should make all Arizonans proud.
Before 1998, defendants convicted of DUI were imprisoned but then put back on the streets and eventually behind the wheel of a car. Without the tools to quit drinking, many simply returned to their old driving-while-intoxicated habit. Judges saw repeat offenders returning to their courtrooms. In an effort to break this cycle, the court established a probation program, the DUI Court, that reduces drunken driving by breaking the cycle of arrest, imprisonment, release, re-offense and re-arrest.
This is not a traditional court where guilt or innocence is decided. Everyone who enters the DUI Court program has first been found guilty and sentenced in a traditional criminal-court proceeding conducted in English.