Spanish-language DUI court receives award

The Arizona Republic

Sept. 15, 2005


The National Association of Counties has presented Presiding Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell a special achievement award for the Spanish DUI Court Program. This annual achievement award program recognizes innovative county programs across the nation.

Maricopa County Superior Court started a DUI court program in 1998. The program added a Spanish-language DUI court in 2002. Defendants are routed to this court based on their need for interpreter services during the pretrial stages of their case.

Participants enter the program after they have been convicted and sentenced by a Superior Court Judge for felony DUI. In addition to standard conditions of probation, their assignment to DUI court includes enhancements including monthly appearances before the judge, an alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet and a 60-day deferred jail term.

A team of DUI court professionals monitors the progress of each defendant accepted into the program every five weeks just before the court session. The team includes Mundell, the county attorney, the public defender, adult probation and a counseling treatment specialist. All team members speak Spanish.

The average Spanish DUI court participant is more likely to graduate than participants in the English DUI court, and more likely to graduate sooner. About 88 percent of Spanish participants graduate, usually after one year, while only 66 percent of English-speaking participants graduate, usually after 17 months.