Rock County cracking down on repeat OWI offenders

Officials trying to see if new OWI court is working

Published On: Nov 16 2012 07:41:13 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 16 2012 07:57:44 AM CST
JANESVILLE, Wis. -

Rock County is trying to crack down on repeat drunken driving offenders.

The county created a new court specifically to handle OWI cases in October, but it's too soon to tell whether it is working to cut down on the amount of cases.

What is clear is it will take significant county resources to help curb this public safety concern.

Reducing drunken driving is one of the goals of Rock County's criminal justice coordinating council.

"We have the option of people going through treatment than facing  jail," said Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary. "Our goal is to get those individuals to voluntarily go to treatment."

O'Leary said offenders should earn their way out of jail by going through treatment. Sheriff Robert Spoden agrees.

"If you are there for a certain amount of time and you are being monitored and receiving treatment, then that can work," said Spoden

But the sheriff said they don't have a facility for a program like that, and taxpayers can't afford another $70 million jail expansion. He's pushing for electronic monitoring.

"We can track where they're at, we can track how much alcohol they've drank and we can create hot zones to keep them out of areas they shouldn't be," said Spoden. "Technology, in my opinion, is the future for controlling individuals behavior and keeping our community safe."

Though some of the stakeholders on this committee disagree with the approach, they hope the OWI court's policies will be as successful as their drug court created in 2007.