Alcoholics behind the wheel: Treating addiction. County DUI court program takes aim at repeat offenders
You drink. You drive. You get arrested but go on to drink and drive again.
And you get arrested again, and again, to the point that you face a state prison sentence of two or more years.
Some offenders in Lycoming County get one last chance to turn their lives around instead of heading to state prison. It’s the DUI Treatment Court, overseen by county Judge Dudley N. Anderson.
The DUI Treatment Court targets offenders who are about to be sentenced for their third, fourth, fifth and even sixth convictions for driving under the influence. It is their last chance, but one they choose to take voluntarily.
According to Anderson, people who are admitted to DUI Treatment Court are not being given an easy ride.
“We go over applicants and decide who is going to be admitted to the program,” he said. “This is a little bit of a carrot-and-stick method.
“The carrot is that there are mandatory sentences for driving under the influence, and we give them a portion of their sentence and they can get part of that on electronic monitoring, instead of the full term in jail.”
In exchange, the offenders agree to a rigorous alcohol intervention program. Once admitted into the program, Anderson and the court don’t let go.
Phases to treatment
“There are three phases to DUI Treatment Court,” Anderson explained. “Each of the phases is a minimum of four months long, and during the first four months, they have to go through intensive treatment.
“They do 90 in 90 —that’s 90 meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous in 90 days. They do counseling, a number of other interventions that are directed toward treatments, and they come to DUI Court every other week.”
Of the 60 participants over 3 years only one person has had another DUI offense.
Full story at Sun Gazette