New Grant Lets Solano County, California Monitor DUI Offenders More Intensively

monitoring-dui-offendersDrunk Driving recidivism is about to get a little harder in Solano County. The California Office of Traffic Safety has given the county a $260,000 grant so that two probation officers can supervise and monitor DUI offenders.

The offenders in question have felony DUIs (usually drunk drivers who cause injury, or who have 4 DUIs within 10 years) or are repeat misdemeanor offenders.

This is an excellent use of funds. All too often drunk drivers are arrested, tried, sentenced, and then lost in a system that pays too little attention to their recovery. Some offenders do a poor job with their education and treatment programs, and make little progress as a result. Repeat offenders in particular very often have issues that need to be addressed, and for that to happen they need supervision and guidance.

The probation officers will assure compliance with court-ordered treatment programs, and will conduct random alcohol and drug testing. Home searches are also part of the package.

Most important, if the offender is placed under formal supervision and has an ignition interlock installed, the probation officers would supervise the use of the device as well. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

The program is a great idea. The issue of repeat impaired driving offenders is one that eats up a lot of police time and resources, and also crowds court calendars. While the language seems disciplinary, the treatment programs that are monitored are designed to turn an offender’s life around. They help offenders deal with alcohol abuse and dependency by dealing with physical, social, cultural aspects of the problem, as well as family issues that might be worsening the problem.  They learn coping skills to deal with the factors that lead to drunk driving. Meanwhile, the supervision of the ignition interlock assures us all that the offenders will not be impaired behind the wheel.

solano-county-californiaProper monitoring makes all the difference: it can ensure that offenders are keeping to their treatment schedule, are passing their ignition interlock tests, and are keeping on top of things generally. It’s a way to offer a helping hand while at the same time protecting society.

Michigan’s Sobriety Court model is perhaps the most successful example of monitoring, but seeing Solano County step up and monitor its repeat DUI offenders is encouraging. We wish them success.