Specialty courts in Minnesota reduce recidivism for drunk drivers

When drivers in Minnesota are convicted of drunk driving, many are forced to pay substantial fines or serve prison sentences without being given options for treatment. However, a new two-year study reveals that Minnesota's specialty court system for those convicted of driving while intoxicated multiple times reduces recidivism while also saving the state money.

The study's specifics

In this particular study, which was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nine DWI courts in Minnesota were evaluated, states the StarTribune. At the conclusion of the study, it was discovered that the re-arrest rates for graduates who participated in one of these programs were dramatically lower than those who went through the traditional court process after receiving a DWI. Researchers also found that the state's program completion numbers were much higher than the national average for DWI courts.

To come to these conclusions, those working on the study analyzed data collected from the court system and also conducted on-site interviews with the participants and the staff members of these courts. As a result in these findings, some hope that the state will provide generous funding so that these DWI courts can expand and become available throughout all of Minnesota.

How do these courts operate?

According to the StarTribune, there are 16 DWI, hybrid DWI and drug courts in Minnesota. The first of these courts was set up in 2005 and the majority of them are located in rural counties. These courts are designed to:

  • Help repeat drunken driving offenders change their behaviors
  • Provide frequent alcohol and drug testing
  • Make a driver's license reinstatement plan and behavior therapy available to drunken driving offenders

Although participation in one of these courts is voluntary, offenders must qualify. Additionally, most of these courts require at least a year of involvement before graduation. Those who participate are closely monitored by a judge and others who may be involved with their case, including prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Drunk drivers may still face penalties

While these courts can provide DWI offenders with treatment options, many still face the severe penalties associated with drinking and driving. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, drivers who operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level at or above 0.08 may face criminal consequences, like jail time, and driver's license administration sanctions.

Drivers in Minnesota charged with DWI may be concerned about how a possible conviction could harm their employment prospects, finances and reputation within their community. If you were arrested for drinking and driving, consult with an attorney in your area to find out what legal steps you should take next.