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DUI court can soften the blow of some drunk driving convictions

Some people in Maryland convicted of driving under the influence are not punished for their acts in the traditional sense. A grant-funded program in Howard County provides people who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction with counseling and check-ups rather than with time behind bars -- an opportunity that can be much more preferable.

Known as DUI court, the program is designed for people who have run afoul of the law primarily because of substance abuse and addiciton. Punishment for relapses is different from what is found in the criminal justice system: it might be as simple as a warning from the judge handling their case or might include a few days in jail.

The program has been in existence in Howard County since 2004. Depending on the severity of addiction, graduation from the program can take up to two years, though stretches of 12 to 18 months are more common.

The program can be quite fulfilling for the people who graduate. Participants often have their families in attendance and they receive a letter signed by the governor as well as a graduation certificate.

Of course, this sort of program will not work for everyone. Depending on the charges and where they were issued, people who have been charged or convicted of drunk driving may not be eligible for the program at all. In any case, an attorney experienced in drunk driving defense can apprise people of their rights and help them navigate the criminal jutsice system as their case makes its way through the courts.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Howard DUI and drug court program draws praise," Luke Lavoie, May 31, 2013

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