PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Independence Day holiday is traditionally an alcohol-fueled event for many Americans. With that in mind, a revolutionary way to reduce drunk driving has just been introduced.
The non-profit Responsibility.org has launched a new program which treats those arrested for driving under the influence differently than the usual law and order punishment. CEO Ralph Blackman says CARS, the Computerized Assessment and Referral System, screens DUI offenders for unidentified and untreated mental health disorders.
“In a courtroom setting, that helps the judge set a course of action that’s individualized to that offender,” Blackman said. “For the first time the court, and other treatment and referral agencies, would have substance abuse information, mental health information and alcohol information, all in one place for a single offender.”
And he says a pilot program over the last year yielded surprising results.
“A third of repeat offenders did, in fact, screen for mental health referrals,” he said.
Blackman says the screening helps to connect the offender with programs which can address the mental health issues, and hopefully prevent future DUIs.