San Joaquin County’s DUI Court is now the model for other courts in the state after being included in the California Strategic Highway Safety Plan.
In 2012 San Joaquin County saw a one-third decrease in repeat offenders and a 50 percent reduction in alcohol-related accidents from those in DUI Court.
Superior Court Judge Richard Vlavianos heads the program and says in 2013 fatalities in drug or alcohol related crashes totaled almost 1,700.
“Impaired drivers kill literally as many people as almost all other forms of homicide added up together," says Vlavianos. "So as I indicated, we know what the highest group is and that is the repeat offender, so the concept is to target the repeat offenders.”
According to Vlavianos, repeat offenders account for less than two percent of California drivers but cause 60 percent of alcohol-involved crashes.
“You can focus on a group that’s going to have a major impact. It’s really clear that’s repeat offenders so we’re going to target that group,” says Vlavianos.
Brian Elam was a repeat offender and went through drug court 4 years ago.
“Being sober has changed my life, I’d probably be dead, I’d be in prison for killing somebody on that roadway, it’s a blessing to be sober,” says Elam.
The court has been awarded a $750,000 grant to help establish other such programs across the state.