If you are convicted of multiple DUI offense within a specified period of time in the state of Georgia you may be asked to participate in a treatment program, a.k.a. 'DUI Court,' as a part of your probation. The program is designed as a way to rehabilitate rather than punish offenders. However, it is important to note that the program is extremely strict and if you do something such as miss a court session you can find yourself facing sanctions which could include time behind bars. Additionally, many of the sanctions people face while in a DUI Court Program are arbitrary and unfairly applied. As a result, we generally do not recommend participation in these programs unless a person goes in fully informed. In most situations, a person will serve more time in jail, as a result of violating the program's rules, than had they just served time in jail at the front end.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving under the influence, please do not hesitate to contact Hall County DUI Lawyer, Richard Lawson today. You can reach his office at (404) 816-4440.
History Of DUI Court
DUI Court was inspired by the success of the Drug Courts that started in the late 1980's. Drug Courts take a different approach to dealing with those convicted of drug offenses, putting the focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment. The goal of the Drug Courts is to "break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction, and criminal activity." These programs are quite intensive and include things like meeting regularly with a judge, as well as "substance abuse treatment, case management, drug testing, probation supervision, and consistent monitoring." Drug Courts have been found to "lower recidivism, reduce drug use, and reduce both direct and indirect costs of investigating and adjudicating drug-related crime." As of 2008, there were over 2,000 of these courts across the country.
Like the Drug Courts, DUI Court also focuses on treating people so as to help reduce the likelihood that they will offend again. These courts "generally involve frequent interaction of the offender with the DUI court judge, intensive supervision by probation officers, intensive treatment, random alcohol and other drug testing, community service, lifestyle changes, positive reinforcement for successful performance in the program, and jail time for noncompliance."
The first DUI Court programs in Georgia began in 2003. There were initially just three DUI Courts, located in three different counties: Hall County, Chatham County, and Athens-Clarke County. Since its inception, the program has expanded and now there are numerous courts located throughout Georgia.
What Does The DUI Court Program Entail?
The DUI Court programs in Georgia have a lot in common but they are not all exactly the same. A majority of the DUI Court programs have four phases that participants must finish in order to complete the program and most programs last between 12 and 24 months. Though the programs all have the same types of goals, how the programs are broken down differ depending on the court. For example in Athens-Clarke County participants must go through orientation and four phases, while Putnam County has a three phase program.
DUI Court - Athens-Clarke County
To give you an example of what a DUI Court program may look like, we will examine the program in Athens-Clarke County. This program lasts for a minimum of fourteen months and consists of an orientation and four phases:
- Phase 1: Extended Assessment
- Phase 2: Active Treatment
- Phase 3: Relapse Prevention
- Phase 4: Sustained Recovery
The phases last a different amount of time, with the later phases lasting longer than the early ones. In addition, each phase has different tasks that an individual must complete in order to advance in the program, including things like attending 12-step meetings, going to group therapy, completing projects, paying fees, passing random alcohol tests, and going to the Courthouse for status conferences.
There are rewards for doing well in DUI Court. One reward a participant can get is a reduction in the amount of community service hours that he or she is required to serve. Participants can do this by advancing through the program. Participants can get 40 hours of credit towards their community service hours each time they reach a new phase, up to Phase 4.
There are also sanctions for failing to meet program guidelines. DUI Court is incredibly strict with participants and expect that each and every requirement will be met. Participants can be sanctioned for serious violations of the rules like failing an alcohol test, getting a traffic citation, or getting arrested for another offense. But it is important for those who choose to go through DUI Court to beware that they can also be sanctioned for little things like showing up late for a meeting. The sanctions that a judge can impose range from a verbal reprimand to jail time. Thus, if you decide to participate in a DUI Court program, it is essential that you comply with all the program's requirements as you can face additional penalties for failing to do so.
What Georgia Counties Have A DUI Court Program?
There number of courts that have DUI Court programs has grown by leaps and bounds in Georgia. There are currently DUI Courts in:
- Chatham County
- Athens-Clarke County
- Putnam County
- Hall County
- Gwinnett County
- Forsyth County
- Clayton County
- Richmond County
- Cherokee County
- Coweta County
- Fulton County
- Liberty County
- Dawson County
- Cobb County
- Troup County
- Fayette County
- DeKalb County
- Rockdale County
- Douglas County
- Henry County
- Columbia County
- Burke County
In addition, both Lowndes County and Tift County launched DUI Court programs in 2017.
Do I Have To Participate In A DUI Court Program?
You only have to participate in a DUI Court program if you choose to do so. You will not be forced into it by the court. As these programs can be incredibly intensive and have little wiggle room for mistakes, it is important to speak with your attorney in order to decide if DUI Court is right for you.
Contact A Hall County DUI Attorney
If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI, you want a skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable attorney on your side. Hall County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson has been defending those accused of driving under the influence in Hall County and throughout Georgia for over 20 years. Let his dedication and legal expertise work for you. Contact his office today by calling (404) 816-4440, or contact him online.