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Continuing Legal Education Notes (ABA Webinar on DUI Courts)

by merlin on August 18th, 2015
  • Sumo

ABA CLE – The Promise of DWI Courts

August 13, 2015 Webinar


Judge J. Michael Kavanaugh (Retired) – Senior Director National Center for DUI Courts

Hon. Earl Penrod is moderator


Instead of adversarial focus, seek a cooperative rehabilitation.


Vehicle Crashes:

Since 1982 (26,000 fatalities) – in 2013: 10,076

Sadly – 13% are alcohol-related crashes

Every 52 minutes, someone in the US is killed in a alcohol-related collision

  • Focus on vehicle technology for preventing/minimizing damage to people from crashes
  • Social efforts (not considered “okay”any longer to drink and drive)
  • Legal mechanisms – DWI COURTS


DUI Courts:

  • At first, considered to be an “experiment” after seeing success from Drug Courts
  • Campbell Collaboration – meta-analysis of 28 DWI Courts that were evaluated for content; conclusion was OBJECTIVELY REDUCED RECIDIVISM (both DUI recidivism AND general criminal recidivism)
  • Best DWI Courts had a 50%-60% reduction in recidivism


Because focus was not on treatment, people would go to the Courts for a probation revocation hearing without ever receiving any treatment!

  • Can’t just leave it alone – must be ACCOUNTABILITY, not just treatment.
  • DUI Courts succeed because of constant reinforcement of the solutions and constant accountability
  • Program lasts 1 year+ (usu. 18 mos.)


Post-Conviction Methodology – must have longer accountability models, based on the realities of both the action/addiction itself, and the reality of the System, too.

  • These are NOT programs for people with lower risk and lesser need
  • High Risk, High Need people need the program most because of the nature of addiction
  • Problem with the adversarial approach is that it does not necessarily give the person what they need to abandon the dangerous behavior (needs to be a holistic approach; find community resources, etc.)
  • The Defendant needs to enter the Court early (optimally, within 20 days of the DUI arrest), so the mind connects bad behavior with punishment with TREATING THE BEHAVIOR
  • Eligibility is screened immediately, including a clinical evaluation (ex. detox may need to be addressed) – Harvard Medical School provides a free clinical assessment online
  • Need to look at parallel situations that affect the person (such as mental health issues affecting their behavior); what about local resources to help the person overall, such as bus schedules, etc.?
  • Need to have VICTIM-IMPACT programs.


Remember PROXIMAL versus DISTAL goals, recognize the ACTUAL problems that must be addressed in the individual, and make the sanctions real and consistent.


Because they are TREATMENT courts:

  • Must comply with HIPAA
  • Must meet standards of 42 USC


Cost-benefit analysis – Positive result after studies; because of reduction in recidivism rates and overall reduction of crashes, etc.


Hon. J. Michael Kavanaugh [(Ret.) Senior Director – National Center for DWI Courts] (505) 610-4307

Jim Eberspacher [Project Director – National Center for DWI Courts] (571) 384-1875

Cliff Jacobs [Project Manager – National Center for DWI Courts] (571) 384-1867

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