DUIs are unfortunately routine in the Orange County courts. Usually the offender is punished with license suspension and probation and required to attend DUI education classes. But DUIs are often a symptom of a deeper problem. Two alternative courts in Orange County attempt to address the root causes of DUIs.
Military veterans face difficulties that most of us do not. Not many of us see our buddies get killed or face the harrowing situations many soldiers experience in the combat arena. As a consequence, many veterans who have participated in wars abroad come home suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic injuries including brain injury (TBI), and/or difficulties coping. It is estimated that between 10 to 20 percent of all veterans suffer from PTSD, which can be added to the many veterans who have been physically injured and disabled. Often these war experience or the injuries suffered cause the veteran to become depressed. Whether as a way of coping with physical or psychological trauma, a significant number of affected veterans turn to alcohol or drugs or become addicted to medications prescribed for pain.
Substance abuse, whether it is alcohol or drugs or both, may lead the veteran to the other side of a judge’s bench, often for DUI offenses. Courts across the country have established “Veteran’s Courts” as an alternative the traditionally punitive court system. Veteran’s Court focus on treatment rather than punishment. Orange County was one of the pioneer counties to establish a Veteran’s Court.
Only veterans who are experiencing PTSD, TBI or related mental health disorders are candidates for the Orange County Veteran’s Court. Veterans who have committed felonies as well as those who have received a DUI in California are eligible for this court. The defendant receives intensive therapeutic substance abuse treatment. The goal is to address the root causes for the substance abuse. In addition to treatment, the veteran is required to appear for progress assessments before the judge and to meet with other veterans and mentors. A veteran who successfully completes the program will have his or her charges dismissed. The program is highly successful with a 95 percent success rate.
Another alternative court that targets second and third-time DUI offenders is the DUI Court. It is similar to Veteran’s Court in that its goal is to address the root problems of the offense. Entry into this program is voluntary but requires that the offender enter a guilty plea. The offender will be placed on 5 years’ probation (which is standard on all multiple DUI offenses) but if the program is successfully completed, the probation will be terminated early. For the participant who has been sentenced to jail for his or her DUI, participation in the program gives the offender the opportunity to serve that jail time through electronic confinement (meaning no incarceration). The minimum time the offender will be required to participate in the program is 12 months if the DUI offense is a misdemeanor and 18 months if a felony.
The participant in DUI Court will receive intensive treatment to include individual and group counseling in addition to the DUI education and self-help meetings usually ordered for DUI offenders. Some participants will receive residential treatment and upon release, will continue in outpatient support for a minimum of three months.
The DUI Court program is structured in phases through which the participant advances. These phases are results-oriented with the goal that the participant will establish a life free from alcohol and/or drugs. The alternative DUI Court is a good option for someone who is serious and ready to conquer his or her addiction to alcohol or drugs.
If you have been charged with a DUI, Orange County DUI attorney William Weinberg is available to provide a complimentary consultation regarding your DUI. You may contact him at (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.