New Monterey County program aims to reduce DUI recidivism

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Posted: Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Treatment programs are focus


SALINAS, Calif. —A recently launched Monterey County program is aimed at DUI prevention.

The program replaces automatically sending repeat offenders to jail with treatment programs including rehabilitation.

Locally, more than 2,000 people are arrested for DUI every year in Monterey County.

A new county grant program is working to reduce that number.

“It’s a treatment court and it’s patterned after the drug court model that we currently have and has proven successful throughout the state and actually throughout the nation,” said DUI court grant director Nona Medina.

The $350,000 program, launched Oct. 30, will give repeat DUI offenders or first time offenders who have a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher an alternative treatment to jail. “Incarceration is not known to treat the root cause of these repeat offenders. They need treatment. They need intervention,” Medina said.

Sun Street Centers in Salinas helps about 2,000 DUI offenders a year with programs like group and outpatient counseling, DUI education, and residential treatment programs.

Sun Street Centers CEO Anna Foglia said “Substance abuse is an illness that needs to be treated and for those who would benefit from treatment, it could really reduce the recidivism rate.”

Nine counties in California have adopted the program. “The recidivism rate has gone down by 50 percent. That saves lives,” Foglia says.

At least 36 will be enrolled in the 12 to 18 month program.

Any DUI offender who hurt or killed other people is not allowed in the program. The first potential candidate for the program will be in court Friday morning.

The program is currently only for alcohol DUI offenders. Monterey County is looking to expand that to drug DUI’s next year.

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