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San Joaquin DUI court closely monitors repeat offenders

Participation in a special DUI court is not mandatory in many California counties, but San Joaquin County started a new court model back in 2008, requiring every repeat DUI offender to take part in a monitoring program. Statistics provided by a research group indicate that the program is yielding some positive results, and the county received federal funds via the state to keep the program going for another year.

When DUI court was optional, the court would oversee roughly 100 people convicted of drunken driving. But now with the repeat-offender requirement, more than 700 people might have to be monitored at any given time.

The frequency of that monitoring is not the same for each person. About a quarter of those in the program are subject to intense supervision, including Ignition Interlock Devices, alcohol and drug testing, numerous court appearances, drug or alcohol education and residence inspections. The other three quarters aren't so closely monitored.

The program, which so far has involved 2,388 people, has seen 77 percent of those inviduals graduate. The effect, officials say, is a reduced recidivism rate and fewer alcohol-related auto accidents in the area.

In particular, DUI defendants who do not participate in the program had a recidivism rate of 12 percent, while participants had a recidivism rate of 9 percent. The rate of drunk driving accidents for nonparticipants was 2.3 percent, and participants got into DUI-related crashes at a rate of 1.1 percent.

Clearly, a DUI conviction in California can have life-changing consequences. Your driver's license, employment, finances and freedom may be at stake, and it's in each accused individual's best interests to know what defense options are available.

Source: recordnet.com, "More funds for successful S.J. DUI court," May 1, 2013

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