MARIETTA A new facility is open in Marietta for participants of the Cobb County DUI Court, which helps recidivist drunk or drugged drivers get their lives back on track.

Court staff and affiliates cut the ribbon on their new venue at 515 Roswell St. last Thursday morning, led by Cobb County State Court Judge Eric Brewton.

He’s the appointed judge for the DUI court, which is one of several accountability courts in Cobb and currently has 60 participants as well as 30 vacancies.

“We’re very excited about this building,” Brewton told those gathered for the ribbon cutting. “Participants can now come here for all their group meetings, counseling sessions and for the drug testing, which is also a very important part of the program.”

Previously the court paid private rehabilitation and treatment companies to accommodate these aspects of the program, most recently in the Cumberland area.

Now the court has a long-term lease on the Roswell Street facility near the Fairground Street intersection, which is just a block or so away from the Cobb County court complex behind Marietta Square.

Those eligible to participate in the DUI court’s program pay $75 a week to be involved, with the promise of less jail time, reduced fines and community service credit of 200 hours for successful completion of the program’s five phases.

Participants also receive treatment, regular drug and/or alcohol testing, supervision in meeting license reinstatement requirements and support in achieving sobriety.

The program lasts at least 12 months and is exclusively for Cobb residents age 17 or over with multiple convictions for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs as well as a minimum two-year sentence, no violent felonies and either full-time work or study.

“This is incredible for our community and you can count on our support continuing, “Cobb County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sharon Mason said at the ribbon cutting. “It’s going to continue to make a very big impact in our community.”

The Cobb DUI court opened in 2008 and to date over 550 participants have been admitted into the program, with more than 420 graduating.

Coordinator Darcy Kamau, whose brother was killed in a DUI-related wreck, said the program can accommodate about 90 participants, with a yearly operating budget of around $260,000 just for treatment and testing services.

She said the treatment and testing is paid for by the $75 weekly participation fee and the court receives an annual grant from state funding, which was reduced this year from about $65,000 to $45,000.

Kamau said drunk or drugged driving incidents are down statewide so demand for the program isn’t as high as it once was, meaning the funding cut has had less of an impact.

Cobb taxpayers cover the salaries of Kamau and DUI court case manager Tiffany Jones through the county government’s general fund, at a cost of about $150,000 a year, she said, adding that a key reason for renting the Roswell Street building is an expected annual cost-saving measure compared to outsourcing services.

“We’re still trying to figure out our budget but we’re hoping, starting out, we’ll be saving about $25,000 in this first year,” Kamau said.

Scholarships are available to help people pay to participate in the program through the nonprofit Sober Streets, which contributed about $9,000 in program support and scholarships last year.

“We’re so proud to be able to help this worthy cause,” Sober Streets President and Cobb Assistant Solicitor General Steve Ellis said at the ribbon cutting.

The DUI court also has a community advisory board comprising staff from local businesses and nonprofits, Kennesaw State University, WellStar Health System and the Cobb County government, sheriff’s office, chamber of commerce, school district and superior court clerk’s office.

“There’s a whole group of people who help behind the scenes,” advisory board president Ann Keller said at the ribbon cutting.

More information about the court can be found here:

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