Funding for Minnesota DWI Courts at Risk In State Budget Proposals

Minnesota DWI courts across the state are at risk for funding cuts in budget proposals currently being considered by state lawmakers. Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature have been at odds on agreeing to a budget that would fund the state’s government. Meanwhile, Dayton has threatened to veto a number of measures.

In the latest budget request, Governor Dayton has asked for $1.7 million per year to fund Minnesota’s specialty courts. However, a state legislature conference committee initially proposed providing just $100,000 per year, according to a report from Minnesota Lawyer.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea in a statement described the proposed cuts from the state legislature as “deeply troubling” and a “failure to prioritize public safety and the justice system.”

“It would jeopardize our state’s drug courts, DWI courts, and veterans courts, which are effective tools for combating the rise of substance abuse in our state,” Gildea remarked, according to a statement published in the same Minnesota Lawyer report.

Falling Recidivism Rates
A 2014 report from the state’s Office of Traffic Safety found that the state saved more than $1.4 million over a two-year span when offenders participated in DWI court-related programs. Recidivism among offenders participating in DWI courts also dropped sharply compared to those working their ways through traditional state courts.

The funding issue for treatment courts was also recently talked about in an op-ed published via the Start Tribune by Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice David Lillehaug. “All Minnesotans should be united in supporting treatment for our families and friends. After all, addiction has no political party,” Lillehaug argued.

Minnesota currently operates around 16 DWI courts across the state.