Lancaster County Court starts new DUI Court
By Lauren Dietrich, Student News Reporter Nebraska Public Media
June 28, 2021, 2 p.m. ·
Lancaster County courts are changing the way they handle DUI’s. Starting this week certain driving under the influence cases will be sent to a new DUI court, the first of its kind in the state. The court is meant to help repeat offenders recover from substance abuse issues.
Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court Michael Heavican said problem solving courts are an alternative to the traditional criminal justice model; they go to the heart of what motivates individual offenders to break the law.
"The Legislature explained the need for problem solving courts in this way, 'When left untreated substance abuse disorders and mental illness contribute to increased crime in Nebraska, costs millions of dollars in lost productivity, and contribute to the burden placed on law enforcement, courts and correction systems.'"
Justice Heavican said the Lancaster County DUI court will actively work with offenders, representatives from the court, law enforcement and community corrections to design an individualized program. Compliance with treatment is ensured by frequent testing and close supervision.
"Participation in the program is not an easy way out; an offenders failure to comply will mean expulsion from the program and re-instatement of criminal charges."
District Court Judge Darla Ideus will preside over the problem-solving court and said it will have many benefits to the community.
"The mission of this court is to increase public safety, facilitate access to treatment, and reduce recidivism."
According to the judges, problem-solving courts save taxpayers money by keeping offenders out of incarceration.