Hennepin Countyâ€™s DWI Court targets people who are likely to repeatedly drink and drive. So far, in the courtâ€™s first year the success rate shows that only one person reoffended. That compares to a 60 to 80 percent rate of reoffending for repeat DWI offenders using the traditional probation supervision model.
The mission of the DWI court is â€œto enhance public safety through a court-supervised program designed to assist repeat DWI offenders and restore them as law-abiding members of our community. A collaborative and strength-based approach is used to support participants while holding them accountable.â€
The Star Tribune reported that more than 100 repeat DWI offenders entered the DWI court during the year. Three years ago the DWI court started in St. Paul and then Hennepin and St. Louis counties picked up the program. The surrending suburbs are also beginning this program. It is modeled after the successful drug courts that were developed in the 1990′s.
The success of the program is made possible by a rigorous schedule that includes intensive supervision that lasts for at least 18 months. Once an offender is doing well, they receive praise from a judge but if an offender is not doing well they receive sanctions.
DWI court defendants can win back limited driving privileges quicker . This allows them to drive to work, court, AA and aftercare but with significant safeguards. Offenders must have insurance and use an ignition interlock that monitors alcohol consumpiton and prevents them from driving if they have been drinking.