News Item
Beltrami County DWI Court Celebrates 10-year Anniversary

Posted: Monday, August 7, 2017

On August 2, 2017, more than 60 people gathered at Diamond Point Park in Bemidji to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Beltrami County DWI Court. The event featured a fish fry and the graduation of four people from the program.
Beltrami County DWI Court accepted its first participant in July 2007. Along with representatives of the Minnesota Judicial Branch, agencies participating on the DWI Court Team include the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Department, the Bemidji Police Department, the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office, the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Beltrami County Human Services, Beltrami County Victim Assistance, and treatment professionals from the community. Ninth Judicial District Judge Shari Schluchter has presided over the court since its inception.
Judge Schluchter, speaking at the event, said, “The program is about personal change and protecting public safety. The Beltrami County DWI Court celebrates the lifesaving, life affirming and life improving change each participant in the court makes.”
Beltrami County DWI Court is one of Minnesota’s treatment courts. Treatment courts represent a shift in the way courts are handling certain offenders and working with key stakeholders in the justice system. In this approach, the court works closely with prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, social workers, and other justice system partners to develop a strategy that will pressure an offender into completing a treatment program and abstaining from repeating the behaviors that brought them to court. Through this collaboration, treatment courts closely monitor the defendant's progress toward sobriety and recovery through ongoing treatment, frequent drug testing, and regular mandatory check-in court appearances. The programs use a range of immediate sanctions and incentives to foster behavior change.
Since 2007, 135 people have entered the Beltrami County DWI Court program and 92 have successfully graduated from it. There are currently 22 active participants.