Repeat DUI offenders in Kent, WA could gain treatment time instead of time in jail because of its new DUI court. The court will offer individual treatment and supervision of DUI offenders and to compel offenders to check in through an accountability structure. Joining other County DUI Courts in Washington, the new court aims to provide therapeutic responses to DUI cases rather than just penalties.
The idea behind establishing these courts is derived from an evidence-based National DUI Court model. This model has resulted in improvement of impaired driving rates through addressing the underlying causes. When a person is in the throes of substance abuse or has mental health issues, studies have shown he or she can be expected to wind up in the same court, over and over again. By identifying and addressing the addiction and/or mental health issue(s), the offender has a much higher chance of staying out of a vehicle while under the influence.
These Washington counties offer DUI Courts presently: Thurston (Olympia), Spokane, Yakima, Clallam (Port Angeles), Okanogan (Omak) and Clark (Vancouver).
Kent, WA Agencies Involved in Establishing DUI Court
When setting up the Kent court, legislation was enacted allowing municipal courts to establish their own DUI Court. The project was the joint effort of municipal court judges, the prosecutor's office, the public defender's office, Kent law enforcement and probation, and the area's treatment providers. The DUI court was also made possible in part by Washington State Traffic Commission and the Target Zero initiative—a program established to reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
The Kent DUI court has the capacity to serve up to 40 participants at a time. Kent officials hope for the same results many other DUI courts in the country have experienced—reduced DUI recidivism and other related crimes.
Participation in the Kent DUI Court
To participate in the DUI court, potential persons will undergo a screening so that the court can determine if he or she has a systemic ongoing addiction problem. Once a person starts the DUI court program, he or she will participate in interventions, treatment referrals, cognitive behavior therapy, and medical-assisted therapy, as determined by the assessment. The integrated strategy established with the cooperation of so many different agencies is key to the success of the participants.
In Kent, the prosecutor's office identified 51 defendants who were facing charges for at least their third DUI offense. Seventeen of those candidates were awaiting disposition of their cases, 14 were disqualified, and 22 were deemed active participants. Since the court was established, only one defendant opted out of the program and chose a maximum jail sentence instead.
Karimi Law Office assists DUI offenders in establishing their best criminal defense. If you or a loved one has been charged with a first-time DUI, call our office today to learn your rights. If you have been charged with a second or subsequent DUI, the DUI Court may be for you, but it is not for everyone. Steve Karimi has had years of experience prosecuting DUI cases in Washington, and the insight to help you determine what's best for you. Call today.