In 1982, Ohio's legal limit was reduced from .150% to .100%. Neither alcohol-related traffic deaths nor DUI arrests abated. Nearly 20 years later, in 2003, the legal limit was further reduced to .080%. In 2004 and 2005, alcohol-related deaths on the nation's roads actually increased nearly 2%. The federal government is now looking at the DUI battle from the correct perspective -- treat DUI offenders more aggressively with counseling rather than hard court sanctions.
Modeled after drug courts, DUI courts may become more commonplace in the courthouses across America. In fact, one of the very first DUI courts will be located in Akron with Judge Alison McCarty. According to today's Akron Beacon Journal, Judge McCarty has been Akron's drug court judge for 11 years and has seen success: "90% of the folks who have finished the program have not been re-arrested the following year". When dealing with chemical dependency and abuse, that is a fantastic statistic!
According to the Beacon Journal, the DUI court will cost only $200,000 a year. Ohio currently has one of the only DUI courts in Clermont County, Ohio. According to Judge McCarty, DUI offenders will meet the Judge once per week for 4 weeks and then once every 6 weeks after that. Alcohol consumption monitoring and GPS will be used as well as breath testers in the offender's home.
It will be interesting to see how many DUI offenders agree to this. In theory, it sounds good. However, having represented thousands of DUI offenders since 1994, I have come to learn that clients will grow very tired and weary of such "big brother" involvement. Many, I suspect, will prefer to simply "do the days" in jail and hope not to violate probation.