DWI Courts in Minnesota Give People a Second Chance at Sobriety

At the Ottertail DWI Court, there have been 89 graduates of the program in just under three years

MOORHEAD, Minn. — Jenna Kavanagh is just one example of a life saved with the help of DWI Courts in Minnesota.

“I would have found one more reason to drink and I know I would have been dead by now and my family would have buried me,” said Kavanagh in a speech at the “Towards Zero Deaths” West Central Regional meeting at Concordia College.

In just under three years, the DWI Court in Ottertail County has had 131 participants in the program, with 89 graduates.

Beginning in 2005, the DWI Courts have given counseling and positive reinforcement to people convicted of DWI’s for 18 month stretches, helping them regain control of their lives.

“We hope people could write their own prescriptions for them to stay healthy and clean, and that’s different for every individual,” said Tria Mann, the DWI Court Coordinator for Ottertail, Becker, and Mahnomen Counties.

There are sixteen DWI courts in the state of Minnesota but the closest ones to the Fargo–Moorhead area are in Becker County, Ottertail County, and Mahnomen County.

“It’s cheaper to have them go through the court and do check–ins, and get them the therapy or the counseling that they need than to put them in jail,” said Kristine Hernandez, the State Coordinator for “Towards Zero Deaths”.

With the help of the DWI Court, Kavanagh was able to overcome alcoholism and find the strength to stay sober.

“I made it through the toughest time of my life which was losing the love of my life and almost losing my son permanently, but my ex–husband is my best friend and my number one supporter and I have my son over half the time,” said Kavanagh.

Even though the program is still growing, many people have found their strength again with the help of the courts.

As of now, Clay County does not have a DWI Court.

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