DUI Court facing budget cuts

For those charged with DUI in Newport Beach, Orange County, the Harbor Justice Center runs a program known as "DUI Court" whereby second and third time DUI offenders are given the option of committing to a one year program of rehabilitation instead of spending lengthy periods of time in Orange County Jail. The Program involves weekly meetings with probation officers and health care workers and is geared towards treating people for their alcohol problems in order to prevent the commission of further offenses. The program is run by Judge Biggs who requires defendants in his program to appear in his court weekly for progress reports. It is a difficult program to get through and is inflexible in terms of its requirements, but is an effective way to keep out of jail for those who are ready to commit to sobriety.

Penalties for a second or third DUI include up to one year in county jail. For those who complete the program, the minimum period of jail is served by electronic home confinement.

However, according to reports in the Orange County Register today, because of budget problems in the present economic crisis, the County Health Department may need to cut the program this summer. This would be despite county reports that the program saves money in the long run by keeping people out of county jail, and reduces recidivism.

The end of the program would be an extreme disappointment to those directly involved, including Judge Biggs who has worked hard at making the program a success since its inception in 2004. The program has become a National model for other Courts to follow.


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