Guam – Guam’s Superior Court has called a news conference tomorrow [Friday] to announce the launch of a Special DWI Court to address the increasing number of drunk driving cases. Friday’s news conference comes ahead of the convening of that court next Monday when Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson will preside over the first case in a year-long pilot program for the DWI Court.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of this new, specialized court and to continue the efforts of the Presiding Judge Alberto C. Lamorena III to create these therapeutic courts designed to solve the underlying problem that led to the criminal act,” said Judge Barrett-Anderson. “Driving Under the Influence or While Intoxicated and its tragic consequences present challenges for our island and its residents and these problems are only expected to intensify with the influx of new residents to the island. It is my steadfast belief that this DWI court will bring solutions to these challenges. We are extremely pleased that the launch is in time for the holiday seasons when, unfortunately, the number of DWI cases is always expected to increase.”
“The Judiciary of Guam partnered with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the Office of the Attorney General, Public Defender Corporation and the Alternate Public Defender, the Guam Police Department, Office of Highway Safety, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Revenue and Taxation, devoting many months and countless hours planning the court,” according to Chief Justice Robert J. Torres. “Although the DWI Court has been in the “inception” mode for sometime now, we are pleased that federal funding has finally been secured to enable the Judiciary to devote some of its resources to adjudicating the hundreds of DWI cases that have been slowly making their way through the system or which are pending at the Attorney General’s Office due to funding constraints and priorities.”
The DWI Court places an emphasis on rehabilitating offenders through customized treatment programs. Participants must undergo treatment and counseling, submit to random and frequent drug and alcohol testing and appear frequently before the judge. First time offenders are also adjudicated more efficiently and expeditiously, with the multiple goals of reducing the number of pending or uncharged cases while ensuring that justice is not denied by the delay in filing of these cases.
Guam now joins a growing number of jurisdictions who have created such DWI courts in an effort to reduce recidivism and ensure safety for citizens by helping drunk driving offenders to integrate back into the community in as safe, sober and productive way.