The four-year program isn't easy. Program participants are required to spend 10 days in jail, take random urine and breath tests, intensive counseling and alcohol treatment, weekly court appearances and meetings with probation officers. They must also maintain full-time employment.
"A lot of people don't understand that when you're incarcerated and directly taken out of society, you don't get an opportunity to change your life, because you're just sitting in a cell," Knapp said. "There's no support. There's nobody there to help you."
The FAIP program is saving taxpayers millions of dollars. It costs $50 a day to house inmates in Texas prisons. Tarrant County's program costs $3 a day.
"It's not that people drink and drive," said Judge Sharen Wilson, one of the founders of the DWI program. "It's that they drink and drive and hurt somebody. So until we break that cycle, then I think the cost is incalculable."
Judge Wilson said if the offenders violate any of the program's requirements, she has no problem sending them to prison. But this DWI program is the most successful probation program in Tarrant County.
Of the 261 offenders admitted into the program since 2006, only two percent of them have returned to prison.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Strong probation for felony DWI in Tarrant County
DWI becomes a felony and thus prison-eligible (third degree felony, 2-10 years) in Texas upon the third conviction. But a specialty court in Tarrant County called the Felony Alcohol Intervention Program has avoided sending hundreds of 3-time DWI defendants to prison through a strict strong probation regimen. Reported WFAA-TV on Monday: