While sobriety court is already an option for DUI offenders in the Ann Arbor area, recent news reports indicate that this popular court program will soon be available in Wexford County in northern Michigan. The purpose of sobriety courts is to give the offender an opportunity to rehabilitate, rather than punish him or her with jail time, substantial fines, etc. However, sobriety court is not easy, and in fact is quite intensive, designed not only to keep intoxicated drivers off the road, but to change the offender’s behavior.
According to a recent article at Upnorthlive.com, one judge gives sobriety courts great praise, calling it a program that works. Judge Mike Haley, who has headed sobriety courts in several northern counties over the past 13 years, says that the data shows that of the thousand or so individuals who have gone through sobriety court in past years, the rate of repeat offenders is down substantially.
Michigan DUI attorneys know that the eligibility requirements to participate in sobriety court vary across the state. In some counties, a first time offender may participate; in others, only second or third time offenders may participate. It is important for offenders to know before choosing this sentencing alternative that this type of program is rigorous. Depending on the county, individuals who participate may be required to breath test on a daily basis, have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle, attend counseling and/or AA meetings on a daily basis, and be subject to home visits and alcohol searches by probation officers.
Sobriety courts are tough not only on the offender, but on the entire family. This is particularly true in cases where the defendant drives the same vehicle as other members of the family, who must blow into the interlock device in order to start the vehicle. Ultimately, if anyone else in the family causes the device to register alcohol, the defendant may be found liable, which could result in the judge imposing jail time. There are numerous drawbacks to the program, but many benefits as well.