New Kane DUI problem-solving court aims to help defendants get on the straight and narrow

The Kane County circuit court is building on the success of its drug, veteran and mental health courts by adding an option for people who have problems with alcohol use.

A DUI problem-solving court began operating two weeks ago, with Judge Rene Cruz overseeing it.

It goes beyond just ordering a person convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to attend AA meetings and not drink. The new court wants to address the underlying causes of DUI offenses and provide comprehensive support to those working toward recovery.

Kane has had a drug problem-solving court for two decades. But officials found that there were a significant number of jail detainees who could benefit from a problem-solving court but did not qualify for drug court because their addictions were to alcohol.

The methods of treatment are different, Cruz said.

People eligible for the new DUI court are those who have been charged with a nonviolent, probationable felony DUI. They also must have a moderate to high score on an alcohol-use risk assessment and be deemed likely to reoffend. And they have to live in Kane County.

Lighthouse Recovery, which provides substance-abuse programs at the jail, will evaluate applicants' biological, psychological and social needs.

Once in, participants will move through five phases. It starts with determining what kind of treatment is required and beginning it. On the way to graduation, participants will have to finish treatment, attend peer support groups, find stable housing, train for or obtain a job, undergo therapy and more. In the beginning, they will have to attend court weekly.

One of the phrases they are going to hear over and over is “people, places and things.”

“Participants learn that they have to be very aware of people, places and things, so they don't get triggered (to drink),” said Assistant Public Defender Juanita Archuleta, a member of the DUI court team.

That might mean staying away from a drinking buddy or moving to a new place.

Just like in drug court, participants will be subject to random testing, from two to seven days a week.

“It is harder for a participant to do a treatment court because they give up a whole lot (of control),” Archuleta said. “But the rewards are priceless.”

Lindsey Lachanski, the assistant state's attorney assigned to the rehabilitation courts, said the public benefits from the court, too. “Because without help, they are going to return to the streets with the same substance-abuse issues,” Lachanski said.

Cruz said treatment courts can save on prison costs - currently estimated at $45,828 per inmate per year. And a person graduating from the DUI court will have full-time employment and stable housing - “things that when you leave the penitentiary, you don't have,” Cruz said.

It took about two years to add the DUI court, Cruz said. It will be funded with a $130,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation, helping to pay for treatment, training and education, substance-testing supplies, and part of the salary of the public defender assigned to the court.

Cruz emphasized the new court is a team effort between himself, the prosecutor, the defense lawyers, probation officers, treatment providers, law enforcement and community leaders.

“Everyone here is actually rooting for that person to succeed,” he said. “I don't see it as a risk. People (going) through here want to change.”

Kane is the fifth county to have a DUI problem-solving court, according to the Probation Services Division of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.

Judicial news

Kane County Chief Judge Clint Hull is retiring - but not until September 2024, according to the monthly newsletter from the Illinois Supreme Court.

  Kane County Chief Judge Clint Hull speaks during Court-Appointed Special Advocates Kane County's annual "Hands Around the Courthouse and County" event in April in Geneva. Rick West/

Hull was appointed as a judge in March 2009. He began his legal career at the Kane County state's attorney's office in 1993, then was first assistant state's attorney in DeKalb County from 1999 until 2004, when he returned to Kane County. He worked briefly in private practice. He has been chief judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit since December 2019.

Leading the way

The Buffalo Grove Police Department is the first law enforcement agency in Illinois - and just sixth in the U.S. - to complete a worldwide initiative aimed at improving relationships and collaboration between police and the communities they serve.

The Trust Building Campaign, launched last year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, is designed to encourage positive community-police partnerships, create strategies to reduce crime, and improve the well-being and quality of life on both sides.

To complete the campaign pledge, Buffalo Grove police implemented 25 key policies and practices within six focus areas: bias-free policing; use of force; leadership and culture; recruitment, hiring and retention; victim services; and community relations.

Brian Budds, Buffalo Grove police chief Courtesy of Buffalo Grove

“This milestone is a testament to the incredible work that the men and women of BGPD perform each and every day,” Chief Brian Budds said this week in an announcement of the accomplishment. “Public trust is paramount to our mission, and we will continue to build and strengthen relationships within our community.”

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