New Program Offers DWI Offenders Alternative To Jail

Drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated in Collin County are being offered an alternative to jail time. Proponents of the program seek to understand and treat the underlying causes of DWIs instead of simply doling out punishment. The program, however, still holds DWI offenders responsible for their actions.

Participants must take part in three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings per week for the first 90 days of the program, check in with a judge weekly and attend counseling sessions. They must also call a hotline each day to find out if they have to go in for drug or alcohol testing. Some participants must wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet which detects the presence of alcohol through the individual’s sweat.

The program is entirely voluntary and participants are offered incentives to participate. Fines and jail sentences are probated. Community service may also be waived. Participants may even be able to receive an occupational driver’s license for their involvement in the program. Medicine designed to curb alcohol cravings may be used as well.

Supporters of the program wanted to address the problem of coming back to the courtroom for multiple DWI offenses. Sending offenders to jail, they argued, did not address the underlying problems and did not make the roads safer for anyone. In addition, continuing to put offenders in jail was becoming expensive for the county as the jail grew overcrowded and the county had to put more money into enlarging it.

The judge responsible for the program claims that it “doesn’t cost taxpayers anything.” Program participants pay a $400 fee along with usual court costs which allow it to be self-sustaining. The fee helps to pay for participants who want to take part in the program but cannot afford it.

Supporters of the program hope that the community will recognize addiction as a disease and make attempts to treat it. They also hope that the program will be seen as a life-saving treatment and not an easy way out. Supporters believe that this program will help individuals with addiction, cut down on jail time for repeat DWI offenders, and make the community safer overall.

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