New Study: Minnesota’s DWI Courts Reduce Recidivism, Save Money

A new study by a national research firm shows Minnesota’s DWI Court programs are saving taxpayer money by reducing recidivism among targeted DWI offenders. The findings of the 2014 report were presented to the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s Drug Court Initiative Advisory Committee by Dr. Shannon Carey, Executive Vice President and Senior Research Associate at NPC Research of Portland, Oregon. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety contracted with NPC Research to conduct the assessment, with the goal of producing a credible and rigorous evaluation of the process and effectiveness of Minnesota’s DWI Courts. The study was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Key findings from the DWI Court evaluation include DWI Courts reduce recidivism: DWI Court graduates (those who completed the DWI Court program) had lower re-arrest rates compared to DWI offenders who experienced traditional court processes at eight out of the nine DWI courts included in the evaluation. The reduction in re-arrest rates ranged from 31% to 78% among graduates of these programs.

Alcohol and Older Drivers

Researchers have examined the effects of alcohol consumption on older adults functioning, and some have addressed alcohol effects on older drivers crash risk. Generally, the findings have shown that alcohol is less likely to be a factor in crashes for older, as compared to younger, drivers. Overall, the study found that the drivers 65 and older were less likely than their younger counterparts to test positive for alcohol after crashes that required treatment at a trauma center. However, when older drivers tested positive, their BACs were generally high, well above the illegal per se limit for driving. Moreover, the strong relationship between older drivers BAC and poor prior driving records and high crash responsibility highlight the need to consider alcohol as a factors in older drivers crashes, and to focus more attention on countermeasures for drinking and driving among those 65 and older.

Texas Supreme Strikes Law Allowing Warrantless

On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, a Texas law that allows law enforcement officers to test drivers for alcohol use without their consent and without a warrant was ruled unconstitutional by Texas's top criminal court in the case of Texas v. Villarreal. “We hold that a nonconsensual search of a DWI suspect’s blood conducted pursuant to the mandatory-blood-draw and implied-consent provisions in the Transportation Code, when undertaken in the absence of a warrant or any applicable exception to the warrant requirement, violates the Fourth Amendment,” said the Court of Criminal Appeals in its written opinion. The decision could put an end to so-called no-refusal weekends conducted by some cities, unless they have a judge on hand to issue warrants.

Veterans and Driving

In a recent article the Traffic Resource Center looks at the different driving related issues faced by returning veterans.  Driving related accidents are the leading cause of death for veterans in the first years after returning from deployment. The article looks at the responses being made to help address the many elements at play and the different ways organizations are seeking to implement programs to help remedy existing problems.

Call for Article Submissions!!!

Trends in State Courts is an annual, peer-reviewed publication that highlights innovative practices in critical areas that are of interest to courts, and often serves as a guide for developing new initiatives and programs, and informing and supporting policy decisions. Trends is the only publication of its kind and enjoys a wide circulation among the state court community. It is distributed in hard copy and electronically. Submission for the monthly online version of Trends are welcomed. Please email abstracts of no more than 500 words to Deborah Smith at dsmith@ncsc.org for consideration. Visit the Trends in State Courts website at www.ncsc.org/trends 

NCSC Traffic Resource Center

The Traffic Resource Center is a cooperative effort between the Department of Transportation and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to establish a resource for judges, court administrators, court clerks, and other court staff on issues related to traffic adjudication. It is an integrated clearinghouse of information as well as a training and technical assistance resource to improve court decision-making and processing of traffic cases involving impaired driving, drugged driving, distracted driving, and commercial driving. The purpose of the Traffic Resource Center website is to provide a useful, ready reference for judges new to the bench or recently assigned to traffic cases, who may need quick access to accurate and timely information until they can receive more formal, structured education.

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