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McHenry County DUI Specialty Court Receives State Certification

Post Date:08/23/2019 10:56 AM

WOODSTOCK - Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit Chief Judge James Cowlin and McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally are pleased to announce that the Illinois Supreme Court, in conjunction with the Administrative Office Illinois Courts (AOIC), has approved the McHenry County DUI Specialty Court for certification.  This is only the second DUI Court to receive certification in Illinois.     

Members of the Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning, along with the AOIC, completed a review of the application, the policies and procedures, participant handbook and other supporting materials finding the program in compliance with the Illinois Supreme Court Problem-Solving Courts Standards (PSC).  AOIC staff completed a site visit of the developing DUI Court that included conducting interviews of the members of the PSC team.

“The State’s Attorney’s Office is so proud to have been a part in creating, developing, and implementing this groundbreaking program.  This program achieves what the criminal justice system aspires to – full rehabilitation of offenders suffering from alcoholism, lower rates of DUI recidivism, money saved by diverting these offenders away from prisons, and safer roads," Kenneally said.

According to the National Center for DWI Courts, DUI Courts are the most successful strategy for holding repeat impaired drivers accountable while ensuring they receive lifesaving treatment. In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board endorsed DUI Courts as a proven strategy for rehabilitating repeat driving while impaired offenders. In its Safety Report on Eliminating Impaired Driving, the NTSB voted unanimously to issue bold recommendations to help the United States reach zero impaired driving fatalities and eliminate alcohol-impaired driving.

DUI Courts have been shown to reduce recidivism by as much as 63 percent for individuals who successfully complete the program when compared to individuals who just completed probation.

The McHenry County DUI Court Program is funded by a federal grant from the United States Department of Justice.

Criteria to participate in the DUI Court include the following:

  • Must be 18 years or older at the time of arrest

  • Must be charged with a felony DUI offense

  • Must be a McHenry County resident

  • Must meet diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder

  • Must have limited criminal history

  • The offense did not result in death or injuries to another

The DUI Court requires individuals who are charged with a felony offense to enter a plea of guilty to the offense, and the sentence will be deferred until the completion of the program.  Program requirements include treatment attendance, meetings with program clinical staff, meetings with probation officers, frequent substance abuse testing, and bi-weekly court appearances.  If an individual fails to comply with the program requirements, the individual can be returned to court for sentencing.

“This project has been a collaborative effort between the State’s Attorney’s Office, the McHenry County Defense Bar, the Judicial System, and Court Services,” said Jason Sterwerf, Director of the Office of Special Projects.  “The Office of Special Projects is enthusiastic to have been part of the development and creation of the newest Problem Solving Court.  The DUI court will offer opportunities for clients to address substance use issues, mental health needs, and personal life issues that often lead to regretful decisions.”   

The DUI Court officially convenes at 2:30 p.m. September 11 in Courtroom 203, and will be presided over by Circuit Judge Michael W. Feetterer.

For additional information about the DUI or other problem solving court programs, please contact Sterwerf at 815-334-4913.