First OWI problem-solving court starting in Allen County

Allen Circuit Court is preparing to launch Indiana’s first operating a vehicle while intoxicated problem-solving court, which will provide offenders charged with OWI the opportunity to receive treatment, change their behavior and clear their criminal record.

The Indiana Office of Court Services issued a provisional certificate of approval July 22 authorizing the OWI problem-solving court to begin delivery of services. Allen Circuit Judge Tom Felts said the new court in Fort Wayne can now begin accepting defendants with the goal of getting the program running in a couple of months as the cases progress.

Felts, who has announced he will be retiring at the end of this year, said getting the new problem-solving court started before he leaves has been especially rewarding.

According to the application submitted by the Allen Circuit Court, the purpose of the new court program is to reduce recidivism. The court will use evidence-based correctional practices including medication-assisted treatment and referrals to mental health services, substance use disorder treatment as well as options for safe and sober housing.

To be eligible for the new problem-solving court program, individuals must agree to participate, and the Allen County prosecutor must consent. Also, the individuals must be found likely to respond to proper medical treatment that will decrease their antisocial behavior and be eligible for supervision with the Alcohol Abuse Deterrent Program and for Medication-Assisted Treatment or intensive supervision by Allen County Adult Probation.

Individuals who enter the OWI Court will have their proceedings deferred for up to two years and 183 days. If a defendant violates the participation agreement or other conditions imposed by the problem-solving court, the criminal proceedings can be resumed.

The provisional certificate of approval is valid for six months. Prior to the expiration of the provisional certificate, the court must retain its certification status by following the procedures described in Section 6(b)(2) of the Problem-Solving Court Rules.

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