San Joaquin County is adding a new tool to stop repeat drunk drivers. They're now being screened for psychiatric disorders.
Nationwide about 10,000 people die each year in alcohol-related driving crashes.
And one out of every four drivers arrested for driving under the influence is a repeat offender.
San Joaquin County sees about 500 repeat drunk drivers sent to DUI Court each year.
Superior Court Judge Richard Vlavianos presides over that court and says a new pilot program called “Computerized Assessment and Referral System” is now being used to screen those repeat offenders for mental health problems.
“If you don’t address the underlying causes of the trauma, you will not get a change in behavior," says Vlavianos. "So part of it is being able to use screening and assessment tools to accurately diagnose what the needs are and to address them.”
San Joaquin County is only one of six sites in the nation selected for the pilot program in part due the success of its DUI Court.
Vlavianos says the county has seen a 750 percent decrease in fatal and injury accidents involving alcohol since the court started in 2008.