DUI Courts Effective in Reducing Recidivism

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) courts are designed to address the alcohol problems underlying repeat DUI or DWI offenders. Treatment is supervised by the courts and includes periodic alcohol and drug testing, the use of graduated sanctions, and tailored rehabilitative services.

An impact evaluation of three DUI courts in three different Georgia counties (Chatham, Clarke, and Hall) found, reports SafetyLit, that after four years of exposure

when the DUI Court graduates were combined with the DUI Court terminated offenders (Intent to Treat Group), the DUI Court offenders had significantly lower recidivism rates: 38 percent lower than a Contemporary Group of offenders and 65 percent lower than a Retrospective Group of offenders. The DUI Court Intent to Treat Group had a significantly lower recidivism rate: 15 percent compared to 24 percent for a group of matched offenders from three similar counties in Georgia (Contemporary Group) and a 35 percent rate for matched offenders from the same counties as the DUI Court who would have been eligible for the DUI Court had it been in existence (Retrospective Group). Offenders who were terminated from the DUI Courts for various reasons had a recidivism rate of 26 percent. It is estimated that the DUI Courts prevented between 47 and 112 repeat arrests during a four year period due to the reduced recidivism associated with them.

These findings are consistent with other evaluations of the efectiveness of DWI and DUI courts.


  • Fell, J.C., Tippetts, A.S., and Ciccel, J.D.C. An evaluation of three driving-under-the-influence courts in Georgia. Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine 2011, 55, 301-312; Alcohol and Other Drugs, SafetyLit, 2011 (Nov. 13), 14(46), 11.


  • American Council on Alcoholism. DUI Courts Website. (aca-usa.org/duicourtshome.htm)
  • Hanson, David J. DWI Courts: Effectively Addressing Drunk Driving. In: Higgins, Paul and Mackinem, Mitchell (Eds.) Problem-Solving Courts: Justice for the Twenty-First Century. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2009.
  • Hughes, Kim. DWI court aims to change lives; People admitting alcohol addiction can take part in county program. Houston Chronicle, March 29, 2007.
  • Lundegaard, Karen. DWI court treatment programs in U.S. show signs of helping drunk drivers to sober up. Wall street Journal, 4-7-04, pp. B1-B2.
  • National Drug Court Institute. DWI Courts and DWI/Drug Courts: Reducing Recidivism , Saving Lives. (ndci.org)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Guiding Principles for DWI Courts. (nhtsa.dot.gov)

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