Minnesota DWI specialty courts may reduce rates of recidivism

A new study found that Minnesota’s specialty court system may reduce the number of DWI offenders who commit a repeat offense.

Currently, there are 16 specialty DWI courts in Minnesota. In a national, two-year study that was recently released, it was discovered that recidivism rates for DWI offenders who participate in one of these specialized court programs are much lower than those who participate in the traditional court process after receiving a DWI, states the StarTribune. This study also found that compared with other DWI courts in the country, Minnesota's specialty court graduation rates were much higher than the national average.

As a result of this study, some hope that the DWI specialty court program in Minnesota will be expanded. Right now, most of these courts are located in rural areas.

How do these courts work?

The main purpose of these DWI courts is usually to help those who are convicted of drunk driving change their behaviors. Those who participate in one of these programs may receive treatment and be required to undergo regular and frequent drug and alcohol testing. Additionally, participants may have to work directly with a probation officer, enroll in a driver's license reinstatement plan and participate in behavior therapy.

Although DWI offenders are not required to participate in a specialty program, there is a qualification process. As DWI offenders work towards graduating, which usually requires a year of participation, they are observed by a judge. Usually, the judge overseeing the case is supported by others who may be involved, such as a defense attorney or a prosecutor.

Repeat offender penalties in Minnesota

When DWI offenders participate in Minnesota's specialty court program, they may be able to avoid some of the severe penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction. Often, the severity of the penalties an alleged drunk driver faces depend on the number of prior DWI convictions on his or her record.

For example, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, when a person is convicted of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level below 0.20, but higher than 0.08, for the first time, he or she may have to spend up to 90 days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine. Comparatively, a third-time DWI offender may have to spend up to a year in jail and pay a $3,000 fine.

Seek the assistance of an attorney

Minnesota drivers who receive a DWI may be concerned about how the possibility of conviction could affect them legally and financially. If you were recently arrested for drinking and driving and have similar concerns, consult with an attorney in your area to determine what your legal rights are at this time.

Keywords: DWI, penalties, arrest, repeat