DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
Research has indicated that a “good-quality” DWI Court signicantly reduces recidivism. But what is a good-quality DWI
Court? The answer is found in the 10 Guiding Principles for DWI Courts as set out by the Naonal Center for DWI Courts
(NCDC). Following these 10 Guiding Principles demonstrates integrity for the DWI Court and expresses delity to the
model that has been shown to work.
The Checklist that follows allows a person to analyze a court that asserts itself to be a DWI Court and determine if it is
remaining true to the model. Each Guiding Principle is stated with appropriate factors to be considered listed aer it. A
complete discussion of the 10 Guiding Principles can be found at www.dwicourts.org.
There are no set number of factors that should be checked to be able to state the principle is being followed. This
Checklist provides what factors are expected for each principle; it will sll require a thorough deliberaon. Some
individual states will have addional requirements set by statute or policy; those will need to be incorporated into this
Guiding Principle #1: Determine the Population
Targeng is the process of idenfying a subset of the DWI oender populaon for inclusion in the DWI Court program.
This is a complex task given that DWI Courts, in comparison to tradional Drug Court programs, accept only one type
of oender, the person who drives while under the inuence of alcohol or drugs. The DWI Court target populaon,
therefore, must be clearly dened, with eligibility criteria clearly documented.
The DWI Court focuses on those oenders who are assessed by a substance abuse professional as
being in signicant need of treatment.
The DWI Court team has established a broad based commiee of community stakeholders, which
shall, among other things, be consulted as to the types of oenders that should be accepted or
excluded from the DWI Court.
The DWI Court has a clearly stated target populaon.
The DWI Court has clearly wrien admission and exclusion criteria.
The DWI Court delineates eligibility criteria for program parcipaon using both oender
characteriscs and oense characteriscs.
The DWI Court matches the number of parcipants that are accepted with available resources.
1 DWI Courts are typically for repeat DWI oenders, not rst-me DWI oenders, unless they have a BAC of .15 or higher. For more informaon on this, read The
Boom Line: “DWI Court: First-Time DWI Oenders - In or Out?” Available on-line at hp://www.dwicourts.org/resources/publicaons.
DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
Guiding Principle #2 Perform a Clinical Assessment
A clinically competent objecve assessment of the impaired-driving oender must address a number of bio-psychosocial
domains including alcohol use severity and drug involvement, the level of needed care, medical and mental health status,
extent of social support systems, and individual movaon to change. Without clearly idenfying a clients needs,
strengths, and resources along each of these important bio-psychosocial domains, the clinician will have considerable
diculty in developing a clinically sound treatment plan.
A thorough assessment of each impaired driver being considered for entry into the DWI Court is conducted,
which addresses a number of bio-psychosocial domains including:
alcohol use severity/dependence
drug involvement
medical status
psychiatric status/mental health issues
employment and nancial status
family and social relaonships
alcohol triggers and cognions
self-ecacy and movaon for change
recommended level of care placement
Assessment(s) are conducted by individuals with specic training, relevant experience, and appropriate
credenals. These individuals ulize validated, reliable assessment instruments.
Appropriate collateral informaon is included in the assessment including police reports, prior oense history,
previous or current probaon informaon, and informaon from signicant others whenever possible.
Assessments are re-administered at appropriate intervals during the DWI Court parcipaon period to
determine progression in treatment, and any changes in treatment need and readiness.
DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
Guiding Principle #3 Develop the Treatment Plan
Substance dependence is a chronic, relapsing condion that can be eecvely treated with the right type and length of
treatment regimen. In addion to having a substance abuse problem, a signicant proporon of the DWI populaon
also suers from a variety of co-occurring mental health disorders. Therefore, DWI Courts must carefully select and
implement treatment pracces demonstrated through research to be eecve with the hard-core impaired driver to
ensure long-term success.
The DWI Court incorporates treatment programs that are constructed with a variety of validated approaches
and that are individualized based on idened clinical needs.
Treatment services in the DWI Court may include:
Movaonal enhancement therapies which assess the parcipants “stage of
change” for alcohol and or other drug use and impaired driving issues and which
match intervenons to the assessed stage of change.
Cognive-behavioral intervenons
Evidence-based pharmacological treatments
Connuing care / aercare
Relapse prevenon training
Specied parcipant competencies to be achieved at each phase of treatment
An organized recovery support program (e.g., 12-step self help), accompanied
by a “12-Step Facilitaon Curriculum”, or other mutual aid approaches, allowing
parcipant choice (NOTE: Courts should be aware of the mixed eecveness
ndings of mandated 12-step aendance versus coerced or voluntary parcipaon
DWI Court team monitors treatment quality and adherence to agreed upon treatment approaches. Each team
member understands the treatment elements being delivered to parcipants.
Treatment includes eecve use of drug and alcohol use tesng results, whether obtained within the program
or through other components of the DWI Court.
Treatment adheres to the appropriate and legal requirements of individual condenality imposed by HIPAA
and 42CFR, Part 2 Revised, including the use of wrien signed consents to permit sharing of informaon among
team members.
1 Coerced AA aendance has not demonstrated eecveness. Most of the AA-related studies analyzed in the Mesa Grande Project (Miller, W. R., & Wilbourne, P.
L. (2002). Mesa grande: A methodological analysis of clinical trials for alcohol use disorders. Addicon, 97(3), 265-277) included primarily individuals who were
mandated to aend AA by court order. In these studies, the AA component was found to be ineecve. It is hypothesized that coercion may have robbed AA of
its eecveness. Eecveness may have also been impeded by mandang alcohol abusers to aend AA, who are not appropriate for a fellowship designed for
those who are alcohol dependent. DWI Courts are encouraged to review the evidence involving the ineecveness of mandang AA. Alternaves to mandang
AA aendance may need to be adopted, such as providing incenves for parcipaon in AA, as opposed to mandang it; determining which parcipants are
most amenable to and/or suitable for AA (e.g. those with alcohol dependence); and oering choices that include other types of mutual support programming in
addion to AA or other 12-step groups.
DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
Guiding Principle #4: Supervise the Offender
Driving while impaired presents a signicant danger to the public. Increased supervision and monitoring by the court,
probaon department, and treatment provider must occur as part of a coordinated strategy to intervene with the repeat
and high-risk DWI oenders and to protect against future impaired driving.
The requirements of the program, including sancons, are clearly communicated to all oenders.
The requirements of the program are presented in wring.
Accommodaons are made for oenders who do not speak English or have issues with literacy.
The ban on use of illegal drugs and alcohol is clearly stated.
Oenders have regular oce visits with probaon ocers.
Roune drug and alcohol tesng are administered as part of appointments.
Sancons are applied for missing probaon appointments or alcohol/drug tesng.
Oenders are regularly and randomly tested for drugs and alcohol.
The technology used for tesng may include:
urine tesng
breath tesng including the use of portable breath tesng devices
transdermal tesng
ignion interlock breath tesng
If the oender has an operators license an ignion interlock device is mandatory.
Supervision of oender includes visits to home or workplace.
Informaon secured from home or workplace visits is shared with all team members.
DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
Violaons determined to have occurred result in immediate sancons.
Stang sessions are held on a regular basis where informaon is shared with all team members.
The judge sees the oender on a regular basis in open court sessions, inially at a minimum of every other
Probaon monitors oenders parcipaon in 12 step or other self help programs.
Probaon idenes and immediately reports pre-relapse behaviors, such as loss of job or associang with using
friends, to the rest of DWI Court team.
The judge orders that the oender avoid alcohol outlets, bars, casinos or other places where alcohol is the
primary item sold.
The DWI Court team provides posive and negave reinforcement of conduct as soon as praccable aer it
occurs. (Note: Negave reinforcement is NOT a sancon. It is the removing of an aversive smulus to increase
a parcipants desire to change. )
The DWI Court judge, in consultaon with the DWI Court team, provides evidence based incenves and
sancons from the bench to respond to parcipant conduct as soon as praccable aer it occurs.
Guiding Principle #5: Forge Agency, Organization and
Community Partnerships
Partnerships are an essenal component of the DWI Court model as they enhance credibility, bolster support, and
broaden available resources. Because the DWI Court model is built on and dependent upon a strong team approach,
both within the court and beyond, the court should solicit the cooperaon of other agencies, as well as community
organizaons to form a partnership in support of the goals of the DWI Court program.
The DWI Court has created a DWI Court team including at minimum a judge, a prosecutor, a member of the
defense bar, a DWI Court coordinator, a treatment provider, a probaon ocer, and a law enforcement ocer.
A wrien memorandum of understanding has been signed by all team members.
The DWI Court has created a broad based, mul-agency partnership to enhance credibility and elicit support
from the community.
DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
The community partnership reects the unique characteriscs of the jurisdicon and the needs of the target
A wrien memorandum of understanding with the community partners establishes the roles and responsibilies
of the partnership members.
The court provides regular informaon to the community about the progress of the DWI Court.
Guiding Principle #6: Take a Judicial Leadership Role
Judges are a vital part of the DWI Court team. As leader of the team, the judge’s role is paramount to the success of the
DWI Court program. The judge must also possess recognizable leadership skills as well as the capacity to movate team
members and elicit buy in from various stakeholders. The selecon of the judge to lead the DWI Court team, therefore, is
of utmost importance.
The DWI Court judge serves as leader of the DWI Court team to fully engage parcipants and draw upon the
experse of all team members.
The DWI Court judge has extensive experience handling DWI cases and understands the nature of addicve
disorders and aendant behaviors.
The DWI Court judge exercises judicial authority in a manner that encourages and facilitates eecve teamwork.
The DWI Court judge ensures that all members of the DWI Court team, including the judge, receive adequate,
ongoing training.
The DWI Court judge demonstrates a genuine interest in the well being of the parcipants, as well as a
willingness and ability to enforce all program requirements.
The DWI Court judge, within the constraints of judicial standards, understands the available funding sources for
the court and aids in the process of securing adequate funding for the connued operaon of the DWI Court.
The DWI Court judge strives to develop trusng, cooperave and supporve relaonships with various
community and vicm’s groups.
The DWI Court judge conducts appropriate community outreach, informaon sharing and educaon about the
DWI Court operaons and outcomes.
DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
Guiding Principle #7: Develop Case Management Strategies
Case management, the series of inter-related funcons that provides for coordinated team strategy and seamless
collaboraon across the treatment and jusce systems, is essenal for an integrated and eecve DWI Court program.
A team member has been designated to serve as a primary case manager for each parcipant.
All DWI Court team members collect and forward all parcipant case informaon, alcohol or drug test results,
and treatment and supervision data to the primary case manager on a mely basis.
The case manager provides parcipant case informaon, alcohol or drug test results, and treatment and
supervision data to the rest of the DWI Court team.
The case management process assures that parcipant assessment, service planning, resource allocaon, and
performance monitoring occur in a coordinated manner.
The DWI Court team has developed a plan to assure that case management is coordinated and avoids
duplicaon of eorts as well as conicng direcons to parcipants.
DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
Guiding Principle # 8: Address Transportation Issues
Because nearly every state revokes or suspends a person’s driving license upon convicon for an impaired driving oense,
the loss of driving privileges poses a signicant issue for those individuals in DWI Court programs. In many cases, the
parcipant solves the transportaon problem created by the loss of their drivers license by driving anyway and taking
a chance that he or she will not be caught. With this knowledge, the court must cauon the parcipants against taking
such chances in the future and to alter their atude about driving without a license.
The DWI Court clearly arculates the requirement that there be no driving in absence of a legal drivers license.
The DWI Court team members emphasize to parcipants that they must solve their own transportaon
The DWI Court team acvely monitors the requirements that parcipants not drive on a suspended or revoked
license, or violate the terms of a restricted drivers license.
The DWI Court has developed plans to address transportaon barriers within the available resources and
constraints of the community.
Limited or restricted driving privileges are granted to DWI Court parcipants only in compliance with exisng
statutes and regulaons.
Guiding Principle #9: Evaluate the Program
To convince stakeholders about the power and ecacy of DWI Court, program planners must design a DWI Court
evaluaon capable of documenng behavioral change and linking that change to the program’s existence. A credible
evaluaon is oen the only mechanism for mapping the road to program success or failure. To prove whether a program
is ecient and eecve requires the assistance of a competent evaluator, an understanding of and control over the
relevant variables that can systemacally contribute to behavioral change, and a commitment from the DWI Court team
to rigorously abide by the rules of the evaluaon design.
2 For more informaon on evaluang a DWI Court program, read: Introductory Handbook for DWI Court Program Evaluaons by Dr. Doug Marlowe, J.D., Ph.D. It can
be found on-line at: hp://www.dwicourts.org/resources/publicaons.
DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
If possible, the evaluaon randomly assigns DWI oenders to DWI Court or a suitable comparison condion,
such as DWI probaon.
If randomizaon is not feasible, acceptable alternave comparison groups include DWI oenders who would
have been eligible for the DWI Court but could not enter because: (a) there were no available slots (“wait-list”),
(b) they were arrested in the same jurisdicon before the DWI Court was established, or (c) they were arrested
in an adjacent community with comparable demographics that does not have a DWI Court.
If a non-randomized group of DWI oenders is used for comparison, the evaluaon idenes client
characteriscs that correlate signicantly with outcomes, such as age, gender, criminal history and treatment
history. If the DWI Court and comparison group dier on any of these variables, the evaluaon stascally
adjusts for the variables in the outcome analyses.
The evaluaon examines outcomes for all parcipants regardless of whether or not they graduated from the
DWI Court.
The evaluaon reports both short term (during program)
and long term (post program)
The evaluaon reports what proporon of parcipants completed all or part of the standard regimen and
graduated from the program.
The evaluaon reports how many sessions of each intervenon (e.g., status hearings, treatment sessions, drug
tesng) the parcipants aended or received.
The evaluaon indicates how parcipants’ conduct was assessed in DWI Court and describes how consequences
were imposed for compliance or non compliance.
The evaluaon reports on the delity with which negave sancons were imposed for infracons and posive
reinforcements were imposed for accomplishments.
The evaluaon reports on the type(s) and dosage of adjuncve services, if any, that were delivered (e.g., mental
health or employment services).
The evaluaon reports the proporon of clients referred for pharmaceucal intervenons who were
determined by an assessment to be in need of medicaon.
3 Short term outcomes may include counseling aendance, aendance at court hearings, weekly urine drug screen and breathalyzer results, aainment of
treatment plan goals, and program graduaon.
4 Long term outcomes may include DWI recidivism, other recidivism, alcohol relapse and realized cost savings from such sources as reduced jail sentences or more
ecient administraon of court dockets.
DWI Court Model Compliance Checklist
Making Your Community a Safer Place
Guiding Principle #10 Ensure a Sustainable Program
The foundaon for sustainability is laid, to a considerable degree, by careful and strategic planning. Such planning
includes consideraons of structure and scale, organizaon and parcipaon and, of course, funding. Becoming an
integral and proven approach to the DWI problem in the community however is the ulmate key to sustainability.
The DWI Court has a strategic plan which includes idenfying potenal resources and works to strengthen its
partnerships with community stakeholders including: the legal community, law enforcement and correcons,
advocates, treatment and other human services, business and elected ocials.
The DWI Court has wrien agreements with its key stakeholders which provide operaonal stability, clear
agreements, and interagency commitments to the collaborave eorts.
The DWI Court has clearly idened all program costs.
The DWI Court has a diversied funding plan and regularly evaluates the eecveness of this plan.
For addional funding and community support, the DWI Court considered developing a nonprot funding and
resource development organizaon, such as a 501(c)(3) non-prot organizaon.
The DWI Court aends to the needs of its team members to feel that their work is worthwhile and their
contribuons are valued.
The DWI Court regularly communicates with the public about its work, its outcomes, and its cost-benet
through a variety of community educaon and informaon approaches.
The Naonal Center for DWI Courts (NCDC), a professional services division of the Naonal
Associaon of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), is the only dedicated advocacy, policy, training and
technical support organizaon for DWI Courts in the naon. For more informaon about the NCDC or
DWI Courts go to www.dwicourts.org.
NCDC – 1029 North Royal Street, Suite 201 – Alexandria, VA 22314. (703) 575-9400
This document was developed by the NCDC DWI Court Task Force which was made possible by a
charitable donaon from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.