DUI Sobriety Court
There are a number of important decisions you must make following an arrest for driving under the influence. For instance, prosecutions may ask some repeat DUI offenders to make a decision that is not well understood and may have far-reaching consequences—whether to submit themselves to sobriety court. These individuals often only have a one-week period in which to decide whether to go through the standard criminal justice process or enter DUI sobriety court. The pressure put on these defendants by the short deadline, as well as by what might be misleading claims about what these courts can offer, can have disastrous consequences.
What Is Sobriety Court?
Sobriety court involves a combination of treatment and unparalleled levels of supervision and scrutiny. The goal is to address the underlying alcohol addiction suffered by repeat DUI offenders in order to reduce the high rate of recidivism attached to this crime. The program consists of three phases and generally takes somewhere between 19 and 24 months to complete. Unfortunately, the goals of the program may come at the expense of defendants who cannot meet the burdensome requirements placed on them by the court. This could result in more time spent in jail than a defendant would have received had he or she not opted in to the voluntary program. So while sobriety court offers the potential for reduced sentences, it makes no guarantees.
Sobriety Court Monitoring Requirements
After an initial incarceration period, participants in sobriety court must submit to random breath testing nearly every day for two-to-four months. In addition, sobriety courts order treatment sessions, meetings with a Probation Officer or Judge, review hearings in court and social support group participation. Any alcohol use or failure to appear could land you back in jail for an extended stay. If you pass phase one, phase two involves up to nine months of:
- Random drug and alcohol screening
- More treatment sessions
- The creation of a relapse prevention plan
- More hearings
- Additional meetings with your Probation Officer
- Time spent in useful public service
- Payment of fines and court costs
In addition to being time-consuming and burdensome, sobriety court is expensive. Phase three offers more random testing, hearings, meetings, treatment, payment and public service—this time lasting up to six months. Successful completion of all phases allows you to graduate, which means you go on supervised probation until the original probation term is over. Any criminal charges against you in this time period could lead to a revocation of the benefits received by participating in the program.
Benefits of Sobriety Court
Alcoholism is a lifelong struggle that can cost you friends, family, freedom and even your life. Overcoming alcohol dependency is a day-to-day grind that can seem hopeless for those most severely impacted. Sobriety court may be just the thing you need to get on track and stay on track. It offers a level of supervision and involvement that will likely dwarf any effort you have ever made to confront an alcohol addiction. You can earn prizes and positive feedback for adhering to the program’s strict requirements. The additional motivation it offers might be the missing element to getting your life turned around. That said, the sobriety court participants are only marginally better at avoiding future DUI arrests than those who go through normal criminal proceedings. The fact is the program is still too new, so all the players involved still do not fully understand the benefits of the program, and they cannot guarantee those result either.
The Timing Problem
From a defense attorney’s standpoint, a major flaw of the program is that you are forced to opt-in before you have a clear understanding of your defense options. A full investigation is necessary to gather and understand all the evidence. You are being promised the potential for a reduced sentence before it’s clear what kind of sentence you are actually facing. One week is not enough time.
Turn to Our Firm for Quality DUI Defense
Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C. handles DUI defense throughout the State of Colorado. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have built a reputation for high quality trial work. We know how to defend people charged with driving under the influence, whether they are being charged for the first time or as a multiple offender. Call us at 303-991-5896 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation with a dedicated DUI defense lawyer.