Fresno County Superior Court’s New DUI Program
Fresno County Superior Court was awarded a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety on
October 1, 2020 to implement a misdemeanor-only comprehensive DUI court program aimed at those who have been charged with a third-time misdemeanor DUI. Through the year-long grant, Fresno County Superior Court is able to address the underlying problem that leads to a third-time DUI, which is often substance abuse and/or mental health issues. This program goes into effect January 1, 2021.
What is this program and how does it work?
Entrance into this program is voluntary and subject to approval by the court. A person must
undergo a RANT (Risk and Needs Triage) assessment. Following assessment, if they are an appropriate
candidate for DUI court and amenable to treatment, the individual is likely to undergo frequent court
reviews which decrease over time as progress is made. This Collaborative DUI Court does not help
someone avoid a conviction, but successful participation and completion of this program may lead to
avoidance of the minimum jail sentence of 120 days for a third-time DUI.
To remain in (and complete) the program the participant must successfully comply with all the
program terms and conditions for the prescribed duration. Failure to do so will result in termination
from the program. A person terminated from the program would be subjected to the minimum
sentence of 120 days jail time following conviction.
What to expect from this DUI program
The Collaborative DUI Court program is modeled after drug courts around the nation that have
been in existence for more than 25 years. A spokesperson from the Fresno County District Attorney’s
Office stated that the judge, attorneys and court staff attended a week-long training in which they
observed other DUI courts in California and other states to gain a better understanding of how to
successfully implement the program. Fresno County Superior Court Judge Hillary Chittick will serve as
the DUI Collaborative Court Judge. The court is scheduled to be in session every Thursday afternoon.
Attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt served as the lead prosecutor in the Fresno County Superior
Court drug program for 18 months during his 12 years as a prosecutor with the Fresno County District
Attorney’s Office; “I saw first-hand how these types of programs have helped those addicted to drugs
and alcohol make a successful transition to sobriety. These programs focus more on helping the
accused rather than on punishing the accused, and ultimately benefit the participant and the
participant’s loved ones.”
If you are facing a third-time misdemeanor DUI, or other prosecution related to substance
abuse, please contact our office at (559) 233-5333 to schedule a consultation and get the help you need.