The Fresno Superior Court is pleased to announce that it will soon expand its collaborative courts to include DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Court. On October 1, 2020, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), awarded the court a 1-year, $384,000 grant, to implement a comprehensive misdemeanor court program that addresses repeat offenders with a third DUI offense. In 2018, nationwide, an average of one alcohol impaired driving fatality occurred every 50 minutes. Repeat drunk drivers cause about one-third of all impaired driving deaths annually.
Seeing an increase in DUI-related filings between 2016 and 2019, the court sought a different approach to address the problem. Modeled after the court’s other successful collaborative court programs, such as Adult and Juvenile Drug Court, Veteran’s Treatment Court, Behavioral Health Court and Friday Court, the DUI Court will focus on reducing recidivism by rigorous monitoring of the individuals in the court, combined with addressing the underlying issues of substance abuse, mental illness and/or trauma.
“In many cases, an individual with multiple DUI convictions has an underlying problem that needs to be addressed,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “With additional guidance and support, this program allows individuals to receive the help they need to change their lives in a positive way.”
The court will begin January 1, 2021. DUI Court aims to reduce impaired-driving recidivism, related crashes, injuries and fatalities. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the participant will be provided access to a variety of programs with intensive, consistent supervision geared toward supporting and helping them maintain an alcohol-free and drug-free life. The Fresno Superior Court, in collaboration with the Fresno County District Attorney, Fresno County Public Defender, Fresno County Probation, Department of Behavioral Health, as well as numerous agencies providing treatment services, will provide the services, supervision and assistance needed to change the course of participants’ lives in positive ways.
The remarkable results and benefits of Fresno County’s collaborative court programs are a tribute to the dedication of the court and partners to provide solutions that impact our community in a positive way,” said Judge Hilary Chittick. “Adding DUI Court to the list allows us to reach more people and potentially save lives."
Judge Hilary Chittick was honored with the Judicial Council's Distinguished Service Award in 2019, in part for her leadership developing and expanding Fresno County's collaborative court programs.