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Bexar County's New DWI Court Program Almost Full After Only Four Months

Eileen Pace
TPR News

Judges from around the state gathered to review best practices learned from Bexar County's first specially-designated DWI court, which is already near capacity.

There are only five slots left of the 40 total available in the Bexar County DWI Court, and with 6,600 DWI cases pending, Judge Liza Rodriguez said offenders must apply to be accepted.

"Their community supervision is very different from regular supervision," Rodriguez said. "They’re coming to court every other week. They’re having a field visit every week. They’re seeing their probation officer every week. And of course, they have a specialized treatment program that they must comply with as part of the condition of probation."

Judge Robin Brown from Harris County, which has more Sober Courts -- what Harris County calls their version of DWI court -- than any city in Texas, said they had a rocky start at the beginning. But now, she said, the stakeholders are on board, county commissioners are funneling toll road money into the court, and the program is demonstrating success.

"We did have a study done out of Sam Houston State University which showed that our graduates were 60 percent less likely to recidivate," Brown said.

Before the Bexar County court was created, second-offense DWI offenders were combined into the Drug Court. Rodriguez said best practices show that DWI offenders need a different type of treatment than narcotics offenders.

The new court will allow the county to do that, treating the highest-risk offenders who have been diagnosed as alcohol dependent.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.