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BRIDGERS DUI Treatment Court set to begin in Gallatin County

The program is meant to reduce misdemeanor DUIs associated with substance abuse disorders.
Posted at 5:55 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 12:38:05-04

BOZEMAN — Bozeman Municipal Court is celebrating the start of BRIDGERS Court—a DUI treatment program meant to address substance abuse disorders and reduce DUIs in Gallatin County.

Judge Colleen Herrington of the Bozeman Municipal Court is the judge overseeing BRIDGERS Court.

She says, "It is a treatment court for misdemeanor DUIs. What it would do is provide individuals, rather than going to the mandatory minimum amount of jail time, they would be able to get credit for the work they’re doing in treatment court".

The program has a therapeutic design, a model used by treatment courts across the nation to break cycles of addiction and repeat involvement with the justice system.

"That’s where I’ve seen the need over the past twelve years on the bench, of knowing that there are people who are going to re-offend because they’re not getting the individualized treatment and the individualized program that a treatment court can provide," she says.

In 2022, there were approximately 695 misdemeanor DUI citations (2nd, 3rd, and aggravated DUI) between Bozeman and Belgrade’s Municipal courts and Gallatin County’s Justice and District courts.

National research says graduates of treatment court are nineteen times less likely to re-offend, confirming the evidence-based practices used in its design.

Judge Herrington says, "The overarching federal group that kind of oversees treatment courts, they’ve done a massive amount of research to show that this is evidence based. By doing the research on court, success rates, and how we get our numbers in terms of recidivism rates and things like that. It’s all been studied."

After sentencing, candidates voluntarily undergo a screening and referral process that involves chemical dependency testing to determine the likelihood of re-offense.

Then, for a span of 12 to 15 months, individuals attend an intensive treatment program of therapy, probation supervision, drug testing, and case management—all provided locally.

The first BRIDGERS Court will be held June11.

For more information, visit the BRIDGERS Court website.