Up until recent years, DWI (driving while impaired) cases have been heard in traditional courts. But, that didn’t seem to be enough, based on the excessive number of repeat offenders going back to court time and time again. Something needed to be done to handle the chronic offenders, besides slapping them on the wrist and taking their license away. Traditional courts were not working for hardcore offenders.
DWI Courts are targeted at those offenders who operate a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15% or higher, or are repeat offenders.
What Are DWI Courts?
DWI Courts are courts that are solely dedicated to attempting to change the behavior of repetitive DWI offenders.
The goal is not to just help the offender, but to also to boost public safety. It mimics the Drug Court model, which has been very successful, when it comes to using long term treatment and accountability to get to the root cause of why someone is repeating the same behavior of getting behind the wheel while impaired.
Treatment of hardcore DWI offenders is complicated, but DWI Court uses a mix of effective measures that are proven to work for substance abuse. The DWI Court utilizes supervision that is more comprehensive and closer than other programs that are community-based.
Are the DWI Courts Working in Kansas City?
In hopes of rehabilitating repeat DWI (driving while impaired) offenders, and decreasing the risk of another new charge in the future, DWI Court is hoping the change is positive. And, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol, it just may be.
The overall numbers for DWI offenses throughout the state of Missouri are more promising now. Even though there are areas that unfortunately jumped up, it appears that the chronic abuse in both drug and alcohol DWI’s has slowed down a bit. The following is the percentage of change for 2015-2016:
- DWI (alcohol intoxication) -5.74%
- DWI (alcohol intoxication) 71%
- DWI (chronic/aggravated drug intoxication -24.24%
- Involuntary (vehicular manslaughter/intoxication) 00%
- Assault 2nd degree (vehicular injury/intoxication) -8.06%
- DWI (chronic/aggravated alcohol intoxication) -7.45%
- All other drug and alcohol DWI 53%
The overall total was a drop of 3.24%. So, if going by numbers only, it appears to be working, because the group targeted for this program are the chronic offenders.
But, even so, there questions many people still might have regarding DWI Courts in Kansas City.
Why Are DWI Courts Needed in Kansas City?
The 3-strike rule is in effect for the state of Missouri. The first 2 offenses are considered misdemeanors, unless there are aggravating circumstances, such as an accident causing injury. But, on a 3rd DWI conviction, it’s a felony. Anyone found guilty of their 3rd offense would be facing prison, as well as a 10-year suspension of their driver’s license.
The nationwide statistics are alarming:
- 53 Minutes – someone is killed in a crash involving a DWI, every 53 minutes
- 10,265 – DWI crashes killed 10,265 people in 2015
- 1 of 5 – During the evening and weekend hours, 1 of 5 people are driving impaired
- 2 million – Over 2 million people in the United States have at least 3 DWI convictions
Although most people would agree that chronic DWI offenders need to be punished accordingly, the hope for a DWI Court is to change the behavior of the offender, not just simply punish. DWI’s can also lead to hardship for an entire family when a person can’t drive to work, or a family loses a loved one in a DWI crash. Families are suffering, not just the offender.
Now that you know that it is a successful program, you might want to know more…
Answering a Few Common Questions about DWI Court
Whether you are facing a DWI charge, or someone you know, you might have a few questions. It’s a complex charge, with numerous things to consider.
Is DWI Court giving a DWI offender a second chance? – Not really. DWI Court is more like giving a person a last chance. It’s after they have shown that they have the tendency to not change their behavior without some form of intervention.
How long will it take to complete? – Repeat DWI offenders will go through at least 12 months of the program.
What happens in a DWI Court program? – During this time, they must show they have been clean and sober, and show up for various counseling sessions and court appearances. Consistent electronic monitoring will also be used to monitor alcohol consumption. And, participate successfully in a substance abuse program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Can I get restricted driving privileges, if I have more than 1 offenses involving alcohol? – Currently, a DWI Court can grant restricted driving privileges to someone who might otherwise not be eligible. If you are granted this privilege, the Missouri Department of Revenue will update their system to reflect your limited driving privilege.
When is the soonest I can get restricted driving privileges if I am participating in the DWI Court program? – At least 45 days of participation must be completed before this privilege will be considered, and will have to be approved by the DWI Court
Will I be charged for the cost of a DWI Court? You will most likely be assessed personally to cover all costs of participating in the program.
Do I need a SR22 insurance filing, even if I have been granted limited driving privilege by the DWI Court? – Yes, you are still required to maintain a SR22 insurance filing, even when granted limited driving privileges.
Is an Ignition Interlock Device necessary for my vehicle, if I have been granted limited driving privileges by the DWI Court? It will still be necessary, if you have more than 1 offenses involving alcohol.
Can I have a 10-year old DWI expunged from my record, with a new one pending? No. The state of Missouri passed a law in 2010 that bans the Missouri Department of Revenue from expunging previous offenses because there is another pending offense.
The DWI Courts differs from Drug Courts, because it functions within a post-conviction model. In other words, it’s not meant to help you beat a charge. The intent to help prevent you from getting another one in the future.
If you are needing help in getting through the process, call Cornerstone Law Firm. They have experienced DWI attorney in the Kansas City are.