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Wisconsins Pretrial Intoxicated Driver Intervention Program

Wisconsin has operated Pretrial Intoxicated Driver Intervention Programs (known as Intensive Supervision Programs, or ISPs) successfully for several years. The aim of the ISPs is to rehabilitate drunk drivers rather than merely fine or jail them. The goal is to rehabilitate them as soon as possible after arrest but before conviction in an attempt to reduce the future likelihood of drinking and driving.

Traditional Consequences Not Changing DUI Behaviors

The state's experience was that the traditional consequences for drunk driving in Wisconsin such as fines, license suspensions, and jail time were not changing the behavior patterns of drivers with alcohol-related problems. Instead Wisconsin has instituted programs in select counties that use education and rehabilitation to change the behavior patterns of these individuals. The pretrial ISPs connect DUI offenders with treatment as soon as possible. The individuals are allowed to live in the community as long as they comply with their court-ordered bail bond conditions and appear for their court dates. The programs include monitoring for compliance and progress in the program, community supervision and monitoring of repeat offenders, random alcohol and drug screening, and the use of different interventions while under community supervision. Wisconsin presently oversees 12 different ISPs in various counties. The ISPs are limited to repeat offenders.

Results Prove Beneficial

The results of these programs have been largely beneficial. Repeat offenders who have successfully completed an ISP are less likely to be arrested for drunk driving than those who have not completed such a program. Those ISP graduates who are rearrested for DUI went significantly longer between rearrests than drivers who did not participate in the programs.

From 2006 to 2009, all 12 counties that had ISP programs experienced a reduction in repeat DUI offenders of 9.3 percent. Forest County had the best results with a drop of 14.5 percent. The least successful county was Oneida, which experienced a drop of only .3 percent. There were no counties with ISP programs that showed an increase in the number of repeat DUI offenders over this period of time.

Rehabilitation Shows Promise to Change Behaviors

Wisconsin's ISP programs, along with those in other states, appear to support the idea that merely fining and jailing repeat DUI offenders will not get them off the road. But rehabilitation and education shows the promise of getting them to change their behaviors.