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'I got my life back': Platte County's DUI Treatment Court provides second chance for drunk drivers

'I got my life back': Platte County's DUI Treatment Court provides second chance
Posted at 6:21 AM, Jun 05, 2024

PLATTE CITY, Mo. — Platte County's DUI Treatment Court program is an opportunity for a second chance.

The 14-month strict, intensive program is aimed to help individuals who have been arrested while driving under the influence.

Since 2011, the county has seen over 200 participants graduate from the program. James Weaver, recent graduate, said he had lost everything because of his alcohol addiction.

“My alcoholism got pretty bad at a certain point, so probably a good thing that I did get caught," Weaver said.

His journey began over a year ago when he was convicted of a DUI offense, facing the possibility of substantial jail time.

“When I got the DUI, I had to make some changes, some serious, serious changes in my life," he said.

That change came through Platte County's DUI Treatment Court.

“Nobody thinks they want to go to prison, but what we do here to help people obtain recovery is a very strict program," said Judge Amy Ashelford.

As an alternative to jail or prison time, the five-phase program is difficult. It consistently tests participants for drugs and alcohol and requires 12-20 hours of treatment and counseling in addition to community service hours.

“I think it's incredible to see it full of people who are willing to take a chance on recovery rather than just, which I think might be an easier option, would be to go to prison," Ashelford said.

In the beginning, the program received much skepticism.

Judge Quint Shafer, who oversees other treatment courts, said he wasn't sure how the program would work. However, he said he has seen results since then.

“People who know prosecution, people who know private defense, that dynamic is really more effective, and you can't argue with the results," Shafer said. "And so that has caused my personal journey to be one that's more thoughtful and more open to the treatment court process because it works."

Last week, the program held a graduation for three participants. Once participants complete the program, they are given incentives like limited driving privileges.

For Weaver, his biggest achievement was being able to gain his life back.

“I got my life back. I got my wife back. I got my kids back," Weaver said. "If it wasn't for this program, going into this program, that would not have happened."

For eligibility requirements, check out the county's websitefor more information.