The DUI Court is a “collaborative court”. The “collaborative court” concept arose in the early 1990s with a program known as Drug Court. This program works to break the cycle of arrest, conviction, jail, release, and reoffense with drug possession cases. It started in Miami, Florida and grew across the country. Orange County began its first Drug Court in the middle 1990s, and it proved very successful, eventually growing to at least one Drug Court at each of the Orange County branch courthouses.
DUI Court evolved from this experience. Initially there was some reluctance to expand the Drug Court concept to impaired drivers. Drug Court normally dealt with felony cases and the risk to society was normally low (the risk primarily being to the user of the drugs). DUI Court was similar in that it involved substance abuse and addiction, but was also different because impaired drivers were injuring and killing people on our highways.
Around 2003, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), decided that DUI Courts would be valuable in reducing the number of drinking driver caused injuries and fatalities. They began offering funding assistance for the start-up of these programs by putting out a request for grant applications through their state counterparts, which in our case was the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
Orange County Superior Court decided to seek a start-up grant and pulled together the “stakeholders” or “collaborators” who would be involved in the proposed program.
The grant was received and the Harbor Justice Center- Newport Beach DUI Court began to screen and accept participants in October of 2004. Additional DUI Courts were added in the North Justice Center – Fullerton in 2007 and the Central Justice Center – Santa Ana in 2008. In the fall of 2009, the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Court a grant to continue the existing DUI Court programs, and to expand DUI Court services to the jurisdiction of the West Justice Center. Although current judicial staffing and financial contraints temporarily require that their court appearances be made at Harbor Justice Center, participants receive their treatment and probation services within the geographic jurisdiction of the West Justice Center.
Since inception the Newport Beach DUI Court has assessed more than 1,450 impaired drivers, accepted more than 760 to the programs and have graduated over 430 from the program, with an overall retention rate above 75 percent and a recidivism rate below 3 percent.
As a result of these successes and the work and dedication of the team, the DUI Court has, for the 2nd time, been named an “Academy Court" by the National Center for DWI Courts, making it one of four such courts in the United States. The DUI Court has also won awards from CADPAAC (County Alcohol and Drug Program Administrators Association of California) and CPPCA (California Probation, Parole and Correctional Association).