DWI Newsletter

Fall 2018
Treatment Court Graduations - From the Outside Looking In
by Judge Laura A. Weiser, Judicial Resource Liaison

One of my favorite responsibilities as your Judicial Resource Liaison is to attend treatment court graduation ceremonies. Holly and I are always grateful to be invited to share in these special occasions. Each court has different traditions and activities to celebrate their graduates. Some ceremonies are simple with just the court team and participants, some are much bigger with special guests, media, contests and prizes. However, there is a common thread that runs through these celebrations. That thread is transformation and the joy that it brings to individuals who initially fought and feared the changes they were asked to make.

Some courts show “before” and “after” pictures of their graduates. Those pictures often provoke some groans and giggles. The transformation can be seen in the eyes and the smiles in the “after” pictures. Those pictures often include family whose joy shines in their faces.

Some courts ask each graduate to speak about their time in their program and perhaps share their advice to those just beginning their transformation. As someone who takes public speaking for granted, it is sometimes painful to watch participants struggle to put their thoughts into words in front of a crowd. With that struggle, comes wisdom that is unlike anything that those of us who haven’t fought this fight could relate. I’d like to share with you some of my favorite quotes from graduates:

“This program turned my resentments into forgiveness, my despair into hope and my fears into courage.” 

“This program not only saved my life but gave me life.”

 “Today I am worthy of being loved and capable of loving others.”

“This program allowed me to live with wide open love, unafraid.”

“To imagine that something beautiful could come out of this wreckage.”

“Hello, I’m sobriety…All the things you were looking for, in the bottle and the glass. I will make them possible. And they’ll be yours at last.”

“I wake up every day with a new outlook on life and a new drive in my heart. I had a friend once tell me he wanted the “dash” between the year he was born and the year he died on his tombstone to mean something. I thought that was an odd idea. Now I truly want my “dash” to have meaning.”

Presiding over a treatment court means longer hours, more work, and more stress. Many judges ask why they should take all that on in addition to their regular workload. Graduation is the answer and the reward that makes it all worthwhile. If you are considering starting a treatment court, find a graduation to attend, you won’t regret it.

Community Service in Action


At the recent graduation of Comal County's Challenge Court, the court paid special tribute to a long-standing community volunteer, Mrs. Mary Breitung (pictured left). Mrs. Breitung has spent years of service in the criminal justice system, most recently with the Comal County Challenge Court. Diligently attending Court review over the years, making herself available to the participants with a listening ear and a kind smile, the program thanked Mary with a special plaque for her service. The plaque read:

In honor of nearly twelve years of genuine and untiring dedicated service to the citizens of Comal County and the Challenge Court. Without your willingness to serve our justice system attending court twice a week since 2007, our county, state, and nation would be less safe. Your willingness to champion and individual's effort to eliminate the effects of addiction leaves both an endearing and enduring footprint in Comal County, Texas.

Mrs. Breitung said she will continue serving the community in other way. Her contribution to the Challenge Court will not be forgotten. 

DWI Court Team Basic Conference      
January 28-29, 2019
Sheraton Georgetown

Have you recently joined or created a DWI Court in your jurisdiction? Do you have new members on your established DWI Court Team? Have you been wondering what a DWI Court is and if it might be right for your community? Are you intrigued by the concept of a specialty court but would like to know more before jumping in? If any of these questions apply to you, consider attending this very informative program. The Basic Training is modeled on the 10 Guiding Principles of DWI Courts and is designed to take the Court team through the various stages involved in planning and designing a DWI Court. You may come alone, with your team, with an exploratory committee or any other configuration that works for you

DWI Court Team Advanced Conference

January 30-February 1, 2019
Sheraton Georgetown

Established DWI Court Judges and their teams are invited to register for this conference. New teams and team members may register for the entire week.

It's never too early to mark your calendar for upcoming impaired driving education. Log in to your judicial profile at www.yourhonor.com to see more details.

Criminal Justice Conference
February 2019

Spring Conference A - Regions 1, 2, 8, 10 & 11
April 2019

Spring Conference B - Regions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 9
May 2019

Annual Judicial Education Conference
September 2019

As we conclude the FY 18 grant year, the Traffic Safety Grant Program would like to thank the members of the DWI Curriculum Committee and all of the faculty that freely give of their time and energy to research and prepare to speak at our conferences. We would like to especially thank the judicial faculty who presented at this year's conferences: Judge Laura Barker, Williamson County Court at Law #2,  Judge Robin Brown, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #12, Judge Diane Bull, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #11, Judge Paula Goodhart, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #1, Judge Randy Gray, Comal County Court at Law #1, Judge Mark Hocker, Lubbock County Court at Law #1, and Judge Mary Lou Keel, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

To access the full list of impaired driving conference papers, handouts and PowerPoint presentations simply log-in to your judicial profile on www.yourhonor.com and under the Resources tab choose Publications Library and then DWI as the category. 

In the News


'Drive high, get a DUI': NHTSA launches drugged-driving awareness campaign
(USA Today, 8/14/18)

"Drive high, get a DUI."

That's the message of a new ad campaign launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is seeking to spread awareness of the dangers of drugged driving.

Judge accepts deal to disallow tainted Breathalyzer tests
(The Salem News,8/24/2018)
PEABODY — A judge on Friday accepted an agreement by the state's district attorneys to stop using the results of potentially tainted Breathalyzer tests from 2011 through at least last year. The agreement could open the door for thousands of defendants convicted of drunk driving to seek new trials.


Out of Control: Houston is ‘ground zero’ for drunken and drugged driving
(Houston Chronicle,9/19/2018)
Drivers impaired by booze and drugs are dying — and killing — in the Houston area at a startling rate, an epidemic unchecked by police, prosecutors or public-awareness campaigns.

Reminder for recipients of Office of the Governor specialty court awards, you are now required to provide notification of the Ombudsman Pilot Program to new and existing program participants. More information can be found under the DWI Court section in the Form Bank here.

National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) is offering personalized technical assistance to adult drug courts, co-occurring disorder courts, DWI courts and veterans treatment courts. To learn more about this opportunity visit: https://www.ndci.org/resources/training/ta/ 

Last minute opportunities!
Texas Impaired Driving Task Force is seeking nominations for the inaugural Texas Impaired Driving Safety Champion Award. For more information can be found here.

The Correctional Management Institute of Texas at Sam Houston State University, on behalf of all Texas Specialty Courts, will receive grant funding from the Criminal Justice Division (CJD), Office of the Governor, for training stipends to attend specialized court training. The training opportunities covered by these stipends are for the 2019 Texas Association of Specialty Courts (TASC) Annual Training Conference in Galveston, Texas, April 10-12, 2019. More information can be found here .

Just for fun!
Fashion Brought to Justice: A guide to accessorizing your robe

Contact Us
This newsletter has been provided by the Texas Center for the Judiciary pursuant to a grant from TxDOT.  If you have suggestions for items to be included in this Newsletter or wish to be removed from the Newsletter mailing list, please contact: 

Judge Laura A. Weiser
Judicial Resource Liaison

Holly Doran
TxDOT Program Director

The DWI Listserv is open to all judges handling DWI cases. If you would like to be added to the Listserv please send an email to hollyd@yourhonor.com. We are continuously adding to the Texas Judges’ DWI Resource Website with news articles and upcoming educational opportunities.  We hope you find the  information in this Newsletter interesting and helpful. Please contact the Traffic Safety Program with any questions or comments.