The San Juan County DWI First Offender Program is designed to work with court-defined first-time offenders convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI). The goal of the program is reduce DWI rearrest rates.
The program is run by San Juan County, which is in northwestern New Mexico, and targets court-defined first-time DWI offenders. The participants come from rural and tribal settings.
The program was introduced to counter high rates of alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. First-time offenders are incarcerated in a minimum-security facility for 28 days. While incarcerated, program recipients receive a multicomponent treatment that is culturally appropriate (for example, Native Americans have access to a sweat lodge and talking circles). There are nine specific treatment components:
· Alcohol use, abuse, and dependence
· Health and nutrition
· Psychological effects of alcohol abuse
· Drinking-and-driving awareness
· Stress management
· Goal-setting for the immediate future
· Family issues and alcohol
· Domestic violence
· HIV/AIDS prevention
There is a work release program for clients who are employed. Participants receive individual counseling, group programs, and postdischarge monitoring for 3 to 12 months. The postdischarge monitoring program includes personal action plan implementation, weekly monitor meetings, alcohol breath tests, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings attendance, job referrals, and vocational education.
Throughout the program, motivational interviewing techniques are used in client–counselor interactions. Motivational interviewing is a nondirective, client-centered counseling style that emphasizes nonconfrontational communications. Counselors are trained in motivational interviewing. This technique rests on several assumptions, including the following:
· Confrontational/negative messages are counterproductive to bringing about change
· Most people move through a series of steps before they are ready to change
· Change is internally motivated rather than externally imposed
· Education/knowledge alone will not effect change
· A key to motivating change is to reduce ambivalence
· The individual can, in fact, make a change [Fleming 2002]