When a person in the state of Michigan gets arrested for drunk driving, the prosecuting attorney generally pushes for harsh sentences such as prison time. In fact, this has been the trend, and especially in the case of repeat offenders, some have questioned if this really is the best way to treat the problem.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, impaired driving fatalities have dropped 2.5 percent since 2011. Some have contributed this to an alternative drunk-driving preventative measure sweeping the nation. With more than 600 already in existence, DWI Courts may be a better prevention method than prison.
states that offer this program, when a person is arrested for drunk driving, they are evaluated to see what chance they have of becoming a repeat offender. The basis for this is to determine whether a person is a social drinker or has a serious addiction. Forcing someone who is a social drinker to enter into a detoxification program could backfire and actually create more problems. The same could be said about sending an addict to prison. An addict could have liver and kidney issues from years of drinking, and once they go through withdrawals, the offender could be at risk for serious health complications while serving a sentence.
DWI Courts appear to differ from the traditional court system by focusing on positive reinforcement. Program participants are constantly offered encouragement during the 18 month treatment program from their probation officer as well as treatment staff. That’s not to say that if a rule is broken, nothing happens. On the contrary, offenders are punished for all violations including failing drug tests or missing court dates.
Many people across the nation feel that promoting rehabilitation versus incarceration should be the next evolutionary step for the judicial system, pointing out that in order to fix the problem, you must first treat the person.
Source: Business Insider, “A Drop In Drunk Driving Fatalities Shows An Unorthodox Court System Is Actually Working,” Abby Rogers, Dec. 16, 2012