Dane County takes a new approach to dealing with drunk driving. County Executive Joe Parisi said it’s a huge problem: 2009 saw 451 alcohol-related crashes and 19 people killed. In addition, Parisi noted that 50 percent of the county’s jail inmates are serving charges related to alcohol. Judge John Markson will preside over the new Dane County OWI Court, a pilot program dealing with third offense drunk drivers who either refuse a blood test or have a BAC of .20 or higher. Participants in the program will serve two weeks in jail, after which they’ll be assessed and placed in treatment. They’ll be closely monitored and offered the option of taking a drug to reduce alcohol cravings. In addition, after completing the one year program, participants will serve two years on probation. This pilot program, paid for in part with state funding, will have a caseload of about 40 offenders.
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