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Federal Grant Could Give Bexar County Their Own DWI Court

Earlier this year, Bexar County followed the example of other large Texas counties by authorizing the establishment of a separate court just to deal with DWI offenders. The idea has the vocal support of both judges and public safety advocates around the county, and an application has been submitted to the Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance to fund the transition.

How Do DWI Courts Work?

DWI courts follow the basic model of the state’s longtime drug courts and have the same ultimate goals: lower judicial system costs and make one-time offenders productive members of society.

According to a release from Bexar County describing the drug courts, they rehabilitate offenders by focusing on “substance abuse and mental health issues” that could result in recidivism by using “court-directed treatment and extremely intensive probation.” The same approach, applied exclusively to those charged with DWI would help lower the DWI recidivism rate and keep the streets of Bexar County safer.

Benefits of Separate DWI Courts

Though DWI courts are a newer concept, the success of drug courts, particularly those that offer substance abuse treatment in lieu of jail time (or in exchange for reduced charges). For example, the Bexar County recidivism rate for drug-related crimes is about 80 percent; for those offenders who went through the drug court, though, the recidivism rate is only seven percent.

Separate DWI courts will also free up much-needed judicial calendar space for more serious offenses, all without a significant cost increase to county taxpayers.

Though the Bexar County Commission has approved the judicial structure change to establish the DWI Court, the federal grant funding has not yet been approved, and the court has not actually begun hearing cases. In the meantime, those facing DWI charges, particularly those facing subsequent DWI charges, need to fight aggressively to defend themselves and protect their legal rights and should seek the counsel of skilled criminal defense attorney in their area.

Posted on August 14, 2013 in Articles

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