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It is never a good idea to drive while intoxicated. It is easy, especially under the influence, to believe one is able to drive safely, but even a slight buzz means too much to be on the road. Wisconsin is generally a safe place to be, but drinking before or while driving always makes the environment risky.

The first victim of drunk driving may even be the driver, as alcoholism can have a horrific effect on health and safety. Criminal charges are designed to correct behavior for the good of society, and Wisconsin has been seeing initial success with a program to combine the criminal justice system with treatment for drug and alcohol programs.

OWI treatment centers, named for Wisconsin’s term for drunk driving charges, are treatment programs that help keep offenders from returning to habits of intoxicated driving. These programs, also called “problem-solving courts,” often deal with individuals who are highly dependent on substances and more likely to not complete other treatment programs.

“The crux behind the crime was their addiction and that’s what we’re trying to address. It’s a disease,” said the coordinator of La Crosse County’s OWI treatment center. Since drunk driving is not often a crime that is repeated, previous OWI charges may indicate the usefulness of an OWI treatment center.

People facing OWI charges or other charges related to intoxication behind the wheel always have the right to legal representation under questioning or arrest. An attorney may help get charges reduced or dismissed, or inform defendants if they qualify for programs such as OWI treatment centers.