It is no easy task to identify, sanction and also treat hardcore drunk driving offenders. Too often, they thwart attempts to effectively adjudicate their cases and they successfully defeat the system in the following ways:
- They refuse to take BAC tests when arrested. Studies show that more than 50 percent of repeat offenders refuse BAC tests.
- They seek to delay timely hearings and try to appear before a judge of their attorney’s choice.
- Their defense attorneys misuse discovery requests to damage the prosecution’s efforts and law enforcement testimony.
- They file an appeal even if the grounds are weak.
- They fail to complete their sentences.
- They fail to return for court reviews and are not brought to justice for months or years thereafter.
It is crucial that judges maintain the integrity of the judicial process by short-circuiting such actions. Judges should ensure trials are held in a timely manner and, upon conviction, that punishment and treatment will be certain and sure. Defendants must understand that their repeated high risk behavior, if detected, will result in meaningful sanctions, counseling and treatment.
To do this, judges must prioritize hardcore drunk driving cases. More effective case management is needed for these defendants. Judges must work with colleagues to reduce case backlogs. Judges should seek additional resources to handle and dispose of these cases and should request sufficient supervisory help to ensure judicially imposed sentences are carried out.