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Valley’s first OVI court convenes in Girard

GIRARD — Girard Municipal Court said it is the first court in the tri-county area to be certified by the state as an OVI court.

Girard’s Recovery Court Program helps second- and third-time driving under the influence offenders. They must remain sober for one year in order to graduate. They are tested every 72 hours to ensure they are following the program.

Two clients have been in the OVI program for a week and according to municipal Judge Jeff Adler, they are both doing well.

“Nine times out of 10, first-time offenders never do it again, and we want to get to the repeat defenders before they get their fourth — which is a felony. That and we want to get to them before they harm or even kill someone,” Adler said.

Girard is the eighth court to be OVI certified in Ohio, according to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Recovery Court Program, or drug court, in Girard earned final certification from the Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets. The Girard program was originally certified in 2015 and was re-certified by the Supreme Court in 2019. Girard court also received certification to conduct an OVI Recovery Court docket.

“The Girard Municipal Court is proud to have been re-certified as a drug court and to have been certified for an OVI Recovery Court Program. Both specialized dockets are necessary to treat those offenders with a drug and/or alcohol addiction. These programs work,” Adler said.

“I give credit to Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor for her dedication toward the specialized docket programs in the Ohio courts. It’s a proven system,” he added. “We had to recertify with the drug program and decided to add the OVI onto it. ”

To receive the certification, the local court had to submit an application, undergo a site visit and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went in to effect in January 2014.

O’Connor congratulated the court and judge for receiving final certification.

“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” O’Connor said. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.”

Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior, according to Adler. There are more than 210 specialized dockets in Ohio courts that deal with issues such as: drugs and alcohol, mental health, domestic violence and human trafficking.

bshiller@tribtoday.com