Rensselaer County should consider a DUI court
I was sad and bothered to read the string of recent Times Union (TU) stories related to DWI in the Capital Region. In September, the TU reported a fatality on I-87 stemming from a driver with 4 prior convictions, no license and drunk [Times Union, 9/16/2022]. In July, the TU reported on the Watervliet Police Chief going public to single out repeat DWI offender [Times Union, 7/25/2022]. Both stories involved people who had already been arrested and convicted for DWIs. Per the CDC, on average, a drunk driver will drive 80 times under the influence before their first arrest [CDC Vital Signs, 2010]. We need to explore solutions to limit repeat offenders, also known as recidivism.
Recently, I heard a speech by Meagan Galligan (2022 NY Supreme Court Justice candidate) about Sullivan county’s DUI court. Sullivan County recently recreated a DUI court. In recent years, Specialty Diversion Courts (Veterans Treatment Courts, Drug Courts, DUI courts) have sprouted up. Specialty courts encourage disposition of criminal cases to reduce incarceration rates and allow offenders to get the help they need. Address the problem before the problem spirals into a much larger problem.
As shown in the TU stories and other data, many DUI offenders are repeat offenders. Assuming DUI courts are as successful as drug courts, recidivism is expected to be reduced by 35 to 50% [National Institute of Justice]. In New York, counties can petition to create these specialty courts. Rensselaer County should follow Sullivan County’s path and create a DUI court. Those that participate in DUI courts must meet weekly with the judge, are subject to routine and spot testing, and many other requirements. Let’s create a DUI court to address this problem before a larger issue drives the need.
Michael Myer, North Greenbush