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South Carolina court starts new DUI treatment program

Florence's 12th Judicial Court started a new DUI treatment program for repeat offenders on June 16. The court solicitor said this could make them productive members of society and no longer a public danger.

This rehabilitation plan includes a minimum of 13 months intensive care. Participants receive supervision, counseling and accountability. Then, they enter into a six-month aftercare program during which they will have access to resources to help them stay sober. Recovery clients can also attend AA meetings, random alcohol and drug testing, and weekly DUI/Drug Court assessment team appearances. The two people enrolled right now have multiple DUIs and a long drinking history. They said they are ready for a change, and the DUI court coordinator stated they appear to be serious about getting sober. Additional people are also being screened for entry.

The coordinator did also mention it is a difficult road the addicted persons have ahead of them, but the main thing is the program keeps them accountable. This recovery course is voluntary, and interested persons must plead guilty of a DUI charge before enrolling in rehabilitation. Afterward, they still have to serve court-ordered jail time. The court solicitor stated that this program could result in fewer DUI penalties for the participants, but that it does not replace mandatory sentences. Additionally, the solicitor stated this program is not about getting people out of trouble, but instead helps them take charge of their lives.

DUI defense lawyers who want to negotiate shortened jail time and reduced fines might advocate alcohol treatment to clients. The convicted person might also receive shorter license suspensions if the litigator can convince the judge to amend an initial sentence.

Source: South Carolina Now, "New DUI program aims to get repeat offenders sober", Traci Bridges, July 25, 2014

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