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McHenry County receives grant for specialty DUI court

The U.S. Department of Justice has approved a grant proposal for a specialty court to handle certain cases of driving under the influence in McHenry County.

The 22nd Judicial Circuit was awarded funding in the amount of $490,631, paid throughout a four-year period, according to a news release from the McHenry County Court Administrator’s Office on Monday.

Similar to the 22nd Judicial Circuit’s Mental Health and Drug Courts, the DUI Court will focus on “high-risk,” repeat felony DUI offenders, according to the release. DUI offenders whose driving resulted in an injury to another person will not be eligible for the program. The new specialty court could deter impaired drivers from reoffending and has the potential to help people recover from drug and alcohol dependencies, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said in an official statement.

“This is a wonderful example of how prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys can work together to create a program that will reduce the costs of the criminal justice and prison systems, reduce DUI recidivism and make our roads safer and help members of our community recover from alcohol and drug abuse,” Kenneally said.

The program could begin as early as 2019. Members of the state’s attorney’s and public defender’s offices and law enforcement will travel to Georgia, in December for a DUI Court Foundational Training event, to help develop the program, according to the news release.

Directly addressing alcohol abuse issues could reduce the rate of alcohol-related fatal crashes, McHenry County Trial Court Administrator Dan Wallis said in the release.

Research by the National Center for DUI Courts found the program can reduce DUI recidivism and general criminal recidivism, while saving taxpayers money, the release stated. DUI courts reduced both DUI recidivism and general criminal recidivism by an average of more than 12 percent, and the best programs reduced recidivism by as much as 50 percent to 60 percent, according to the release.

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