What Is OWI Treatment Court?

Criminal courts in Wisconsin increasingly recognize the need for addiction treatment. That goes for drugs and alcohol.

In fact, there are currently 31 treatment courts for OWI offenders in Wisconsin, and the state’s first OWI treatment court opened in Waukesha County in 2006. These courts generally have two goals: 1) to provide treatment options that are not available in jails and prisons, and 2) to reduce the chance that someone will drive drunk and get arrested again.

But OWI treatment court isn’t a free pass. The penalties are still heavy.

Just because Wisconsin courts recognize the need for substance abuse treatment doesn’t mean you won’t need your best defense if you’re facing an OWI charge. You will definitely need your best defense against the charge, whether it’s your first or a subsequent arrest.

For example, in Waukesha County, you could still be sentenced to 30 or 60 days in jail for a third or fourth OWI conviction — even if you participate in the treatment program. The program is post-conviction and usually lasts between 14 and 16 months, although it could take longer if you miss a drug test or otherwise don’t meet the program’s requirements.

The Waukesha program is usually available to people who have been convicted of a third or fourth, non-violent OWI offense.

Talk to an OWI defense attorney about your options.

According to the National Drug Court Institute, people who complete treatment court are nearly 20 times less likely to commit another crime.

In any case, drunk driving charges should be taken very seriously. Good people find themselves charged with OWI. It’s important to know every available option for minimizing the negative consequences of an arrest.