Robeson County looks to reduce DWIs, roadway deaths with new treatment court

State - Regional

ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WBTW) – Robeson County is helping participants of their new DWI treatment court get sober and be more productive citizens.

District Attorney Matt Scott tells News13 the sobriety court changes the participant’s perception of law enforcement, and it breaks down the stigma of mental health.

Robeson County had 1,400 DWIs as of January 2019.

“We need to hold people accountable for drinking and driving, but we also needed to find ways to address the underlying problem,” said District Attorney Scott.

Robeson County was consistently at the top for the number of DWIs and people dying on the roadways, including young drivers.

“We needed to look at different ways, new ways and address it, because obviously the ways we were addressing it before, we didn’t see any reduction in those numbers,” said Scott.

The county started a DWI treatment court in January 2020, after getting an almost $200,000 grant from the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

The program mirrors one in Brunswick County.

“You have all of these DWIs, and you obviously don’t have any license, so you’re still on the road driving drunk. So, unless we address that underlying problem, that being the alcoholism, the substance abuse, these individuals can continue to drive and drink,” Scott pointed out.

Participants have to want to get treated, have to get a job or train for one and are subject to random drug tests over 12 to 18 months.

“When you see an individual stand up in front of a court in tears talking about how they need help, and this is the first opportunity they’ve had to get help, if that doesn’t move you, then something is wrong,” said Scott.

If program participants don’t abide by the court order or stay in treatment, Superior Court Judge Greg Bell can impose their active sentence.

“If we can get these people their sobriety, sober, and working and paying taxes, we can have a better community,” said Scott.

District Attorney Scott says they’re working now to get funding for an adult drug treatment court.

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