DWI Courts Get $500,000 To Treat Addicts

A Harris County program that helps repeat DWI offenders get sober just got a big boost in funding.

The SOBER Court program is a two-year intensive legal treatment program for people who have multiple DWI convictions.

Harris County Judge Diane Bull presides over one of the DWI courtrooms. She says about 90 participants are in the program at any given time and one of the biggest costs is for alcohol monitoring devices.

"Our program is only as strong as our level of supervision, so yes we do drug testing, yes we use alcohol detection devices. Without that equipment we can't insure that the program will be strong."

The offenders meet with a DWI judge twice a month and go through rehabilitation treatment. They must breathe into the alcohol monitoring devices 3-4 times a day, whether at work or at home and before they drive a vehicle.

The devices are expensive, so Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos cut a check for half a million dollars to fund the equipment.

"You know the irony of all of this, the money comes from forfeitures from criminal enterprises. Dope dealers are paying for this to cure people who have drug addictions and alcohol addictions."

The SOBER program was launched in late 2008 and the DA's office says a total of 328 DWI offenders have successfully completed the program.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...