Clackamas County is one step closer to starting an innovative new program to combat drunk driving,” said State Representative Linda Flores (R-Clackamas) after the Legislative Emergency Board in Salem today. “This new program, “will go a long way toward making our roadways much safer, especially in my legislative district.”
The State Judicial Department was granted tentative approval today for a special grant of $150,000 to operate a Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) Treatment Court in Clackamas County. It would be the second such program in the state. The grant comes from the US Department of Transportation through their Impaired Driver Grant program.
An estimated 700 offenders are currently in the Clackamas County Community Corrections system for alcohol related offenses, one third are repeat offenders. Flores noted, “It is those chronic offenders who are at the heart of the problem. “The ones who’ve probably been through diversion before, but not long after, once again, got behind the wheel when they shouldn’t have.”
“Clackamas County has a high number of repeat offenders, and we also have a shortage of jail beds especially for these low level inmates,” said Flores. She pointed out 44% of all the traffic fatalities in Oregon are alcohol related and that number is growing. “That’s 200 lives lost each year to drinking and driving; 200 too many.”
An estimated 225 offenders will be screened for the Clackamas County DUII Treatment Court, with 50 slots available at a time. Several agencies are involved in the process including the Clackamas County District Attorney, the Sheriff, Community Corrections, indigent defense, mental health providers and others.
Multnomah County was the first to establish a DUII Court. Since it began 8 years ago, around 450 offenders have graduated, 200 were revoked. Flores said, “The offenders who graduated from the program were three times less likely to re-offend than those who washed out.” Clatsop County may also be considering a DUII Court.
Flores explained how the meth epidemic has drawn a lot of attention and how drug courts are now seen as part of the solution. While many thought drunk driving was a crisis in the 1980’s and had since been dealt with, Flores said, “I’m here to tell you the problem has returned to our streets.”
DUII Treatment Courts “have shown they can break the cycle of repeat DUII offenders because they focus primarily on the driving behavior rather than just the addictions, and because the DUII court provides more rigorous supervision,” wrote Kingsley Click, State Court Administrator in her report to the E-Board.
– Rep. Linda Flores
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