State officials want to expand Minnesota's specialty courts for chronic drunken drivers, which they say reduce recidivism and save taxpayers money, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. A national two-year study released Wednesday showed that in nearly all nine of the DWI courts evaluated, the rearrest rates for graduates of the intensive program dropped dramatically compared with offenders who went through traditional court.
Although dozens of DWI and drug courts have been researched, Minnesota's study is the first to include a cost analysis. Because of the reduced recidivism, local agencies and the state save more than $1.4 million over the two years studied. Minnesota has 16 DWI or hybrid DWI/drug courts. DWI courts typically work to change the behavior of repeat drunken-driver offenders with the threat of incarceration if they fail the program. The treatment includes behavior therapy, frequent alcohol and drug testing and constant contact with probation officers.