Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin announced Monday the state will set up DUI courts to reduce the number of repeat drunk drivers. The courts will operate much like the three drug courts in the state, according to the Associated Press.
The goal of the DUI courts will be to treat offenders’ addiction to alcohol through close judicial monitoring of their treatment. Governor Shumlin said he expected the courts to save lives and money. “It’s imperative that we keep drunk drivers off Vermont’s roads, but locking them in jail cells isn’t always the best way to deal with these complex cases,” he stated in a news release.
Judges would monitor treatment of people with a second or third DUI offense, and could impose rewards and sanctions. After serving a mandatory sentence, a person could work out a deal with the judge to return to court regularly to report on their progress, as part of their probation. Those who violated the terms of their agreement would be incarcerated.
Twenty-three of the 77 fatal crashes in Vermont last year were alcohol related, according to the AP. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals found that nationwide, for every $1.00 invested in drug courts, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in avoided criminal justice costs alone.