Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2015 Report says Michigan's Sobriety Court program, with ignition interlock devices, helps reduce drunk driving

97th District Court Judge Mark Wisti, pictured here in his office in the Houghton County Courthouse, says he is supportive of Michigan's Sobriety Court program and the ignition interlock devices that help control drunk-driving recidivism. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- A report released recently by the Michigan Supreme Court says that ignition interlocks are successful in preventing convicted drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and driving drunk. The study by researchers at Grand Valley State University found ignition interlock devices are an effective means of controlling drunk-driving recidivism among chronic offenders when incorporated into a DWI/Sobriety Court program, such as the 97th District Court in Houghton County.

"We know all too well that drunk driving kills," said 97th District Court Judge Mark Wisti. "This report provides solid data indicating that ignition interlocks used in conjunction with DWI/Sobriety Court supervision save lives by preventing drunk drivers from getting back on the road."

As part of an intensive program of supervision and sanctions for convicted drivers, ignition interlocks prevent a vehicle from being driven if the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the operator exceeds a certain level (measured by blowing into the device).* Specifically, the recent report found the following:
  • Recidivism cut in half: A DWI recidivism rate of 2.8 percent among interlock participants who are off probation as compared to participants in the Standard Probation Group who have a DWI recidivism rate of 5.5 percent.
  • Nearly universal compliance: More than 97 percent of people ordered by the DWI/Sobriety Court judges to put the devices on their vehicles actually put them on.
  • Failure rate two-thirds lower: 12 percent of interlock participants failed the DWI/Sobriety Court program, while nonparticipants had a failure rate of 34 percent.
Last year, there were 236 alcohol-related fatalities on Michigan roadways and 9,396 crashes involving alcohol (Michigan State Police, 2014). There are 41 DWI/Sobriety courts statewide designed to assist participants in their recovery, prevent drinking and driving incidents, while improving their quality of life and strengthening local communities. The program keeps participants out of jail, avoiding the cost of incarceration and helping participants stay on the job.

"We are treating this more as a public health problem to avoid putting (drunk drivers) in jail," Judge Wisti said. "It's a team approach, and the court will work with law enforcement and substance abuse counselors to treat addiction."

The quality of life is improved for both participants and for the community at large. Crime is reduced and communities are safer because participants are much less likely commit another drunken driving offense.

The study, which uses data from 2011 to 2014, was commissioned by the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals in cooperation with the State Court Administrative Office. The research in the report is based on data drawn from the following:

8th District Court (Kalamazoo)
51st District Court (Waterford)
61st District Court (Grand Rapids)
86th District Court (Traverse City)
96th District Court (Marquette)

The report reflects the Michigan Supreme Court’s commitment to measure performance and to assist local trial courts in implementing best practices and improve outcomes.*

May is Drug Court month and courts across the nation are highlighting their successful efforts to address the underlying causes of crime (i.e. drugs, alcohol, and mental illness) in order to solve problems and save lives.

* Click here to read the full "MICHIGAN DWI/SOBRIETY COURT IGNITION INTERLOCK EVALUATION 2015 REPORT." See p. 10 of the report for a description of ignition interlocks and an explanation of how they work.

No comments: