In Georgia, if you rack up multiple DUI convictions in a specified period of time you may be asked to participate in a treatment program, also known as DUI Court, as part of your probation. The DUI Court program was designed with a focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. If you are considering this program, it is important to be aware that the program is extremely strict and if you do something as mundane as arriving late, you may find yourself facing sanctions. Thus, it is important to be sure that you are fully committed to completing all the program's requirements before signing up.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving under the influence in Roswell or Alpharetta, or anywhere in Fulton County, contact DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today at (404) 816-4440.
History Of DUI Court
DUI Courts were inspired by the success of the Drug Courts that began operating in the late 1980's. These Drug Courts took a different approach to dealing with those convicted of drug offenses. Rather than punish the individuals, the program aimed to rehabilitate these repeat offenders. The goal of the Drugs Court was, and is, to "break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction, and criminal activity." The programs are intensive and have many requirements including meeting regularly with a judge, "substance abuse treatment, case management, drug testing, probation supervision, and consistent monitoring." These courts have helped to "lower recidivism, reduce drug use, and reduce both direct and indirect costs of investigating and adjudicating drug-related crime." As of 2008, there were over 2,000 Drug Courts across the country.
Similar to Drugs Courts, DUI Court also aims to treat people so as to reduce the likelihood that the individuals will re-offend. These courts "generally involve frequent interaction of the offender with the DUI court judge, intensive supervision by probation officers, intensive treatment, random alcohol and other drug testing, community service, lifestyle changes, positive reinforcement for successful performance in the program, and jail time for noncompliance."
The first DUI Court programs in Georgia began in 2003. Initially, there were just three DUI Courts, located in three different counties: Hall County, Chatham County, and Athens-Clarke County. Since its inception, the program has expanded and there are now numerous courts located throughout the state of Georgia.
What Does The DUI Court Program Entail?
Most DUI Courts have four phases that program participants must complete in order to finish the program. In addition, most programs last between 12 and 24 months. Though many of the DUI Court programs in Georgia are very similar, they do have their differences. For example in Putnam County, the DUI Court is a three-phase program, while Athens-Clarke County participants must go through orientation and four phases to graduate from DUI Court.
DUI Court - Fulton County
The cities of Roswell and Alpharetta do not have a DUI Court program. Those who choose to go through this intensive treatment program will have to transfer their cases to the Fulton County State Court.
The DUI Court in Fulton County lasts between 12 months and two years. It consists of an evaluation, orientation, and the following four phases:
- Phase 1: Drug And Alcohol Education
- Phase 2: Criminal And Addictive Thinking
- Phase 3: Socialization
- Phase 4: Release And Reintegration
The length of each phase depends on how a participant is progressing as well as his or her participation. There are various tasks to complete during each phase of the program, with earlier phases requiring more of a time commitment than later ones. The tasks may include things like attending treatment sessions, reporting to a probation officer, going to support group meetings, paying fees, passing random tests for alcohol, and going to DUI Court review hearings.
If an individual does well in DUI Court, there are rewards. One example of an award is that a participant can get his or her community service hours reduced. As participants advance through the different phases of the program, they can get about 40 hours of credit towards their community service hours. If a participant completes all four phases of the program, then he or she can receive 160 community service hours.
If a participant does not meet the program guidelines, then that individual can face sanctions. DUI Court is incredibly strict and those in the program are expected to meet each and every requirement. Participants can be sanctioned for a range of different violations including failing to remain clean and sober, missing a group session, or committing a crime. The sanctions that a judge can impose range in severity and what sanction is imposed will depend on what happened in a particular case. Thus, if you decide to participate in a DUI Court program, it is essential that you comply with all the program's requirements as you can face serious penalties if you fail to do so.
What Counties Have A DUI Court Program?
In Georgia, more and more courts have implemented a DUI Court program over the years. There are currently DUI Courts in:
- Chatham County
- Athens-Clarke County
- Puntam County
- Hall County
- Gwinnett County
- Forsyth County
- Clayton County
- Richmond County
- Cherokee County
- Coweta County
- Fulton County
- Liberty County
- Dawson County
- Cobb County
- Troup County
- Fayette County
- DeKalb County
- Rockdale County
- Douglas County
- Henry County
- Columbia County
- Burke County
In addition, courts in Lowndes County and Tift County launched DUI Court programs in 2017.
Do I Have To Participate In A DUI Court Program?
It is up to you whether or not you want to participate in a DUI Court program. The court will not force you into a one against your will. Before agreeing to take part in DUI Court, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney to decide if DUI Court is right for you, as these programs can be incredibly intensive and have little wiggle room for mistakes or errors.
Contact A DUI Attorney
If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a DUI, you want a skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable attorney on your side. Fulton County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson has been defending those accused of driving under the influence in Roswell, Alpharetta, and throughout the state of Georgia for over 20 years. Let his dedication and legal expertise work for you. Contact his office today by calling (404) 816-4440, or contact him online.