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Lafayette sobriety court shows promise at reducing drunk driving

Drunk driving remains a pervasive problem, both here in Louisiana and nationwide. Laws and penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence have gotten considerably tougher in the past three decades, but punishment alone is not always an effective deterrent.

This is because many repeat operating-while-intoxicated (OWI) offenders are individuals who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Many now believe that the most effective way to decrease drunk driving among repeat offenders is to offer help with the underlying problem of addiction. Last October, a special "sobriety court" was launched in Lafayette to offer legal intervention to individuals convicted of their third and fourth OWI. It was modeled after a national program with a proven track record of reducing OWI incidents.

According to a recent news article, qualification and participation guidelines are rigid. The program is open to third-time and fourth-time OWI offenders, but only those who have not harmed someone in an alcohol-related traffic accident.

Participation in sobriety court lasts a minimum of 18 months and can last up to five years. Perhaps the most difficult requirement (for those suffering from addiction) is the requirement to wear an ankle monitor fitted with a transdermal patch. The device analyzes the user's sweat every 30 minutes for the presence of alcohol. If alcohol is detected (seemingly in any amount) an alarm will sound. Every two weeks, program participants must go in front of a judge to discuss progress and account for any non-compliance.

Sobriety court is not right for every offender, nor is it offered to every offender. But for repeat offenders struggling with addiction issues, the program may provide a humane and effective alternative to simple punishment.

Source: The Daily Advertiser, "Sobriety court new tool in fighting drunk driving," Claire Taylor, Jan. 26, 2015

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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