People convicted of DWI offenses can now enroll in voluntary Drug Court programs that treat drug and alcohol addictions. By completing the programs, offenders can reduce prison or jail sentences.
What are Drug Courts?
Drug Courts help substance-abusing offenders reduce their prison or jail time while receiving treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. They are voluntary treatment programs that focus on breaking the cycle of addiction and preventing crimes that are often connected to addiction. A DWI attorney often sees non-violent and violent crimes committed by drug addicts to support their drug habits. Although these rehabilitation programs are voluntary, they operate under strict state guidelines that require intense judicial supervision, frequent court appearances, escalating sanctions, mandatory drug and alcohol testing, and physical and mental health exams. Drug Courts require completion of an 18-month treatment program by all eligible offenders.
All adult offenders who have entered a guilty plea to a non-violent gross misdemeanor or felony and/or have violated the terms of probation are eligible for Drug Court programs, but they must have a history of substance abuse and need treatment. Violent offenders and offenders with a prior criminal history of sexual assault are not eligible. Drug Court requirements may vary depending on an offender’s individual circumstances, but all offenders must meet general requirements:
- Attend regular court hearings in from of a Drug Court judge
- Obey all laws
- Get and maintain regular employment
- Pay restitution for crimes committed
- Pay child support
- Pay court costs
All offenders who are accepted for a Drug Court program must complete the 18-month treatment plan and all court requirements to be eligible for a reduced sentence. Drug Courts now operate in all 50 states with a total of over 2,400 county courts. More than 120,000 DWI offenders are treated each year in Drug Courts, and more than 1.5 million offenders are awaiting treatment.
Minnesota Drug Courts have been successful in treating many drug addicts with criminal charges. Statistics show that Minnesota’s Drug Courts continue to lower recidivism rates and jail costs. The average cost savings for each drug court participant is approximately $4,300 as a result of a reduced sentence. Drug Court participants spend an average of 75 fewer days incarcerated, compared to similar offenders who do not participate in Drug Court programs.