I know it’s controversial to promote alcohol treatment over punishment for drivers convicted of DUI, but under most circumstances, treating a person for an alcohol problem in a DUI Court Program is more effective than punishment. The treatment program lasts a year or more and it addresses the fundamental problem.
In many cases, a person charged with a DUI isn’t an alcoholic, but if a person has had more than one DUI the chances are great that alcoholism is the problem. Either way, drinking and driving is a problem, and punishment doesn’t resolve the problem for the person who’s an alcoholic. Alcoholics continue to drink in spite of consequences, and when judgment is impaired, driving while intoxicated doesn’t seem that dangerous.
If a person is placed in a DUI Court Program and goes to group therapy, individual therapy, has to see the judge on a regular basis and has random drug screens performed, the chances of preventing future driving under the influence are greatly enhanced.
We’re filling up prisons with non-violent drug users and DUI offenders, but the rehabilitative value of prison is negligible. Some might say prison is for punishment not rehabilitation, but for non-violent drug and alcohol offenses, especially if assessments show a problem with addiction, it’s humane and much more effective to treat the person in a long term treatment program. The desire to punish might feel good to the law and order types, but if law and order is the goal, treating addiction will help the cause of law and order more than placing a person among violent criminals for a significant period of time. Prison ruins a person’s chance of gaining good employment in the future, thus putting the person at risk of doing something illegal to survive. Prison can also affect a person’s psyche, making it difficult to adjust after getting out. Prison is an easy symptomatic solution — we need fundamental solutions.
The goal of the justice system should be to keep offenders out of the justice system not create the liklihood of recidivism.