In court monitoring programs, people observe, track, and report on DWI court or administrative hearing activities. Court monitoring provides data on how many cases are dismissed or pled down to lesser offenses, how many result in convictions, what sanctions are imposed, and how these results compare across different judges and different courts. Court monitoring programs usually are operated and funded by organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
As of January 2021 court monitoring programs were active in some jurisdictions in 14 States (MADD, 2022). According to MADD, 120 court monitors observed approximately 33,000 impaired-driving cases during 2021. This represents a small fraction of all people arrested for alcohol-impaired driving during any given year.
Shinar (1992) found that court-monitored cases in Maine produced higher conviction rates and stiffer sentences than unmonitored cases. Probst et al. (1987) found that judges, prosecutors, and other officials in 51 communities believed that court monitoring programs helped increase DWI arrests, decrease plea agreements, and increase guilty pleas.
The main requirement for a court monitoring program is a reliable supply of monitors. Monitors typically are unpaid volunteers from advocacy groups like MADD, or similar organizations. Modest funds are needed to establish and maintain court monitoring records and to publicize the results.
Time to implement:
Court monitoring programs can be implemented very quickly if volunteer monitors are available. A few weeks will be required to set up the program and train monitors.