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Denver's 'sobriety' court has its downside

There can be consequences for accepting deals with what is referred to as Denver's sobriety court. What this court was intended to do was provide alternate sentencing to individuals convicted of DUI in the Denver area, and it apparently only makes offers to extreme offenders that are facing long term jail sentences or other severe penalties.

Going through the program may mean less jail time for these offenders, but it can also result in other repercussions. For example, one woman was given the choice between quitting drinking and giving up her child, and she supposedly voluntarily gave up on raising the child.

Whether the decision was voluntary is likely debatable. This same mother claims to have been haunted by the decision. The mother may have made such a decision only while caught up in the throes of addiction to alcohol and may have made a much different decision today.

The program began almost two years ago. It is claimed that the relapse rate of individuals entering this program has gone from 90 percent to 8 to 12 percent (figures that may or may not be accurate), but it does require offenders to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to deal with their personal issues. It can require daily drug and alcohol testing, counseling, two trips of month to the courts and the probation offices, etc.

Attorneys experienced in DUI defense are often opposed to clients accepting offers revolving around the sobriety court. The offer is only made during the initial appearance, and often individuals charged only have one week to accept the offer. Unfortunately, there may not be time to sort through all of the issues concerning what occurred prior to that one week deadline.

Any offers made by prosecutors regarding a DUI charge or conviction should never be accepted before that individual has a chance to talk it over with their attorney. Acceptance of an offer could have lifelong ramifications.

Source: 9 News, "Sobriety court offers different approach for extreme DUI offenders in Denver," Feb. 4, 2013

  • Learn more about options when charged with a DUI or DWAI from our Colorado law firm's website.

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