Group Therapy Planned In Michigan Driving Cases

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Drivers who repeatedly defy the rules of the road could face mandatory therapy and driving classes under a program to begin soon in southwest Oakland County, Mi., the Detroit News reports. “It's simple: We hope to save lives, said Judge Brian MacKenzie, who created the program. The plan follows a Detroit News report last year that found drivers who had outrun repeated problems with the law killed 1,822 people in Michigan over eight years. Those drivers are involved in 1 of every 6 traffic deaths statewide, a rate higher than in all but three other states.

The program is believed to be the first in the state to use group therapy to reform drivers who continually disobey the law. It was modeled after similar programs here and nationwide that target chronic drunken drivers. The program is aimed at only those drivers convicted of a crime, such as driving on a suspended license, reckless driving or leaving the scene of a crash, not drivers with serious alcohol problems. Last year, the state enacted a law charging fees up to $1,000 for drivers who repeatedly defy the rules but want to keep their license. Most attempts to target drivers with bad records fail because they rely mainly on the threat of suspending someone's license – a step that has been found repeatedly to be ineffective. “This is a program that goes after a problem that people are aware of but nobody's ever had a way of solving,” MacKenzie said. “Nowhere in the country has anyone come up with a way of making people change their behavior. But we may have that answer.”

Link: http://www.detnews.com/2004/metro/0410/13/a01-302325.htm

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