Brown County may have a “DWI court” later this year that provides an intensive counseling program for drivers deemed to be in danger of becoming repeat DWI offenders.
Eight Brown County people who work in criminal justice, including Brown County Court-at-Law Frank Griffin are attending training in Austin this week related to DWI court.
Griffin said he hopes a DWI court will be operational in Brown County beginning sometime between October and January.
The court would be operated through the court-at-law, Griffin said. He said he does anticipate that it would mean spending any local money or hiring extra people.
He said the court would be targeted at offenders who have one or two DWI convictions, meaning they are still misdemeanors, with possible referrals from district court, where three or more convictions makes the offense a felony.
The court would be similar to the ADAPT (A Drug and Alcohol Problem Treatment) designed by District Judge Steve Ellis.
Like ADAPT participants, DWI Court offenders would receive counseling through the Mid-Tex Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Griffin said.
“It will involve counseling. It will involve a more hands-on support by the court and a much closer supervision by the probation department,” Griffin said.
He said there are three basic groups of DWI offenders: one-time offenders; repeat offenders who need to be locked up in prison to protect society; and offenders “in the middle” — who may stay sober for awhile but then reoffend.
“The goal is to stop them before they get into the (prison) group,” Griffin said.
Griffin and the seven other criminal justice workers from Brown County are attending training sponsored by the National Drug Court Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Brown County Assistant County Attorney Ryan Locker said he could offer little comment Monday about a DWI court because the details haven’t been worked out for Brown County.
Locker said he thinks a DWI court is a good idea. He said he recognizes that “all defendants are not the same” and represent different risk levels to the community.