Purpose and Philosophy
"Through intensive case management, treatment, and judicial oversight, we will promote public safety by ensuring that high risk offenders receive treatment for alcohol dependency, with the goal of eliminating further drunk driving."
Third Offense cases with a BAC of at least .20 or a refusal. (People with a current charge or past conviction for OWI-related death or serious personal injury will not be eligible for this program.) Dane County residents before a Dane County court only.
Procedure - how to get in
The defendant must plead to the Operating Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OWI) or Prohibited Alcohol Content (PAC) charge. The defendant will be sent to jail immediately following sentencing.
Sentence - what the judge orders
The sentence will be two years probation with jail as a condition of probation.-- The amount of the jail time will be between 9 and 12 months depending on the circumstances set forth in the judicial sentencing guidelines. Jail time is with Work Release (Huber) Privileges but without eligibility for electronic monitoring. -- The jail sentence after the first 14 days will be stayed (stopped) so long as the defendant is in the program and successfully completes probation. Ideally, it will never be served. -- Completion of the treatment court program is a condition of probation. -- The defendant will have to complete an alcohol and program assessment, possibly while in jail. -- The fine for people in this program will be the statutory minimum, saving participants more than $600 on the fine and court costs.
The Program - how it works
The defendant will have to attend OWI treatment court sessions for approximately one year. Court appearances would be needed every two weeks to start. There would be less frequent court appearances and case management meetings over time. Participants will be continuously monitored for sobriety. There will be incentives to encourage progress. The imposed and stayed jail time may be used as a punishment for problems in following the program. -- Pharmacological treatment (injectable Naltrexone) will be offered. It is not required, but is paid for by the program if requested.
Is it right for everyone?
No, but if you are eligible for the program and refuse it, the Dane County Sheriff has agreed to not allow you out on electronic monitoring. If a person has had three convictions for OWI, that person does have a problem. This program is designed to treat that problem rather than merely punish a person. It is not easy, nor is it completely fair. It will require those in it to maintain a relatively rigid schedule and jump through hoops.
Doesn't this punish people with a lower alcohol level more by not letting them in the program?
Also, potentially this program ends up treating people with a lower alcohol level much more harshly. Without this program a 3rd-offense defendant with an alcohol level of .08 will face a minimum of 45 days jail; one with a .17 alcohol level will be facing six months under the judicial guidelines. People with these alcohol levels will not be eligible for the program. -- An attorney can probably help with the six months, but the 45 days is a statutory minimum. It is possible that the program may be expanded to deal with lower alcohol levels or drug use at some time in the future.