Since 2007, in the Fourth Judicial District in Hennepin County, Minnesota, non-felony repeat DWI offenders have had the opportunity to participate in the Adult DWI Court. The program has since been expanded to include felony repeat offenders.
Charged with DWI
The DWI Court program is funded, in part, through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. DWI Court is specifically designed for repeat DWI offenders who are “striving to live a sober, crime-free lifestyle.” The program is voluntary and an eligible defendant who enters a guilty plea or is convicted of DWI has the option to participate in the eighteen month program, which is an alternative to traditional criminal probation.
The Purpose of DWI Court
The purpose of the DWI Court is to:
- Increase the safety of the public by reducing the number of persons who drive drunk;
- Help program participants stay sober and clean;
- Reduce crimes that involve alcohol and drugs; and
- Reduce the expensive costs associated with incarceration.
Those who want to participate in the DWI Court program are chosen by the DWI Court team on a case-by-case basis.
Eligibility for DWI Court
The basic requirements for eligibility include:
- The person must be a repeat DWI offender, meaning the person must be charged with a first, second, or third degree DWI offense, arrested, and charged in Hennepin County;
- The person must be a Hennepin County resident, and be 18 years of age or older;
- The person must complete a chemical health assessment, and must have a moderate or severe substance use disorder; and
- Violent offenders are not eligible for DWI Court.
Other factors that are considered include the nature of the offense and the person’s suitability for rehabilitation.
DWI Court has Four Phases
The DWI Court program has four phases that are each generally six months in length. The phases are designed with specific expectations, such as abstinence for 90 days, successful participation in treatment, and the ability to maintain a job. Those who participate in DWI Court are required to make regular appearances before the designated DWI Court judge, and are also subject to regular visits at home and at work by law enforcement and probation officials.
Additionally, DWI Court participants must undergo treatment, must receive counselling, and must attend support group meetings. The DWI Court also conducts regular alcohol screening and drug screening, and participants are required to drive with an ignition interlock device. Moreover, incentives encourage participants to do well in each phase, and sanctions are imposed against any conduct that is prohibited by the program.
Failure to Comply
Participants who fail to comply with the program’s requirements are subject to sanctions including, increased alcohol monitoring and drug testing, more frequent courtroom appearances, and periods of jail time. Those who participate are required to pay a Correctional Service Fee and participant fees, in addition to fees for alcohol monitoring, ignition interlock, and restitution. A person who successfully completes and graduates from DWI Court can be discharged from active probation, and a person who is kicked out of DWI Court will be sent to jail. The program has zero tolerance for alcohol use and drunk driving.
If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI and has been arrested in Hennepin County for driving while intoxicated, the DWI Court program may be a good option for you, particularly if this is not your first offense. A charge or an arrest for DWI should not be taken lightly. Act quickly and contact an experienced Minnesota DWI Lawyer at Gerald Miller, P.A. right away to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.