Athens DWI Court TeamThis DWI Academy Court is in Athens-Clarke County, a unified city-county located in Georgia, and it started in February 2001. Athens-Clarke County is located in the northeastern part of the state with a population of 110,000. The University of Georgia is also located here and it has a student population of 34,000. Since the DWI court started, the court has supervised or is supervising over 650 high-risk offenders and over 275 have successfully completed the program thus far. It has a capacity of 125 active participants. To graduate, a person has to go through five phases.

Presiding Judge:
Honorable Charles Auslander

The Mission Statement is:

“To confront the substance abuse issue underlying the repetitive pattern of offenders of driving under the influence. The Drug Court provides meaningful treatment to participants coupled with continuing judicial oversight designed to reduce recidivism through enhanced supervision and individual accountability. Additionally, the program’s goal is to increase the public safety for citizens traveling in Athens-Clark County area, and to educate the public of the multiple benefits DWI/Drug Courts offer for the communities served.”

The team is made up of:

  • The judge;
  • An assisting judge or magistrate;
  • The Solicitor General for the county;
  • A representative of the Western Judicial Circuit defense bar;
  • The court coordinator;
  • The court probation officer, and;
  • Treatment clinicians.

The primary target population is DWI offenders that have two in a five year period, or three in a lifetime – violent offenders are excluded from the program as are persons convicted of a number of other serious felonies. Upon entering the DWI court, each participant is given a participant handbook that outlines all court and treatment requirements, minimum requirements for completion of each phase, Court rules, contact information, and description of each team member’s role. The average length for a person to be in the program is 17 months.

The Phases consist of:

  • PHASE I is the participant’s orientation and it is completed within 48 hours to five days after the person is released from jail with an orientation, a baseline drug screen, and a level of care determined.
  • PHASE II is for an extended assessment and lasts a minimum of eight weeks. This phase includes a weekly two-hour session with a group therapy session, bi-weekly check-in with treatment provider, bi-weekly status conferences with the judge, and a minimum of three random drug screens.
  • PHASE III is the treatment and early recovery portion and lasts a minimum of 24 weeks. This phase will include additional items such as a minimum of one 12-step meeting per week, random drug screens, and “homework” assignments as required by the treatment group leader. To move onto the next phase a person has to have a minimum of 60 days without a court sanction.
  • PHASE IV is the relapse-prevention sessions and it will last a minimum of 16 weeks. The bi-weekly status conferences with the court and treatment providers continue during this time as well as the participant must pass four random drug screens. The group therapy session is reduced to a three hour session on a monthly basis. Once again, to go on to the next phase, a participant must be without a court sanction for a minimum of 60 days.
  • PHASE V is the continuation of care and it will last a minimum of 60 days. During this time, the participant will meet with the treatment provider at least once a month, and also with the court once a month. Additionally there are still drug screen tests done on a random basis.
As an incentive to the participant for successful completion of all requirements for graduation, the judge will waive up to ½ of the DWI fines – which can add up to a significant amount during the length of the program.

This DWI Court has 13 local corporate sponsors who provide support through monetary contributions, donations, and employment of court participants. Through these community connections, the Athens DWI Court has established a base of support to secure court continuation and growth for the future.

For more information, click here.