Michigan Leading the Way with DWI Courts


Michigan has more DWI/Drug Hybrid and Designated DWI Courts than any other state except New York. DWI Courts go beyond just handing out sentences. They work closely with offenders, especially hardcore offenders, and hold them accountable for making true changes in their lives.

Michigan began a pilot program in 2010 to create a series of DWI Courts. This has been expanded to 65 around the state. The goals of this program is not only to reduce the number of repeat drunk drivers, but also to keep offenders safely and responsibly on the road instead of in jail. This is achieved through the use of an ignition interlock device. This device ensures that offenders are alcohol-free when they get into their vehicle, or their car doesn’t start.

Participants must apply for the program. Those accepted must agree to random around-the-clock service work, mental health counseling and alcohol monitoring devices. The program can last up to two years, so participants need to show a proven change in their behavior.

Three separate studies have shown that the program works. In one study, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found:

  • Repeat DWI offenders graduating from DWI Courts were up to 65% less likely to be re-arrested for a new DWI offense
  • All DWI Court participants had a recidivism rate of 15%, whether or not they graduated or were terminated, versus a recidivism rate of up to 35% for those not in DWI Court.
  • The three DWI Courts prevented between 47 and 112 more repeat DWI arrests.

The other two studies showed similar reductions in recidivism.

Because of these successes, the DWI Courts are being recognized and supported by such national organizations as:

  • American Judges Association
  • Governor’s Highway Safety Association
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving
  • National Alcohol Beverage Control Association
  • National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators
  • National District Attorneys Association
  • National Sheriff’s Association

Michigan is proud of its DWI Courts as well as its Ignition Interlock program. Learn more on the Michigan Courts web site.

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