Legal :: MERIT – Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment

Under a new trial funding arrangement, MERIT is being trialed at Manly and Wollongong Local Courts for adults with alcohol problems. This includes people who have binge alcohol problems or are chronic alcoholics.

Given the large number of offences committed by defendants who are under the influence of alcohol at the time, an alternative that allows them to receive treatment and rehabilitation can only be beneficial. As it can be a real alternative for defendants to remaining in custody. The success of the program even at dui attorney in ontario this early stage is cause for hope that funding will be increased and the MERIT program will be extended to other Metropolitan Local Courts.

When the MERIT program was originally introduced to assist people with drug problems, it was for a twelve month trial only at Lismore. The signs were so positive that after six months the program was extended throughout the State. It is hoped that the same will happen with the MERIT program to assist defendants with alcohol related problems.

The aim of MERIT is to break the cycle between drugs and crime by involving defendants in treatment and rehabilitation.

According to the MERIT Program Manager at Manly, Matt Jesema, the program involving defendants with alcohol problems will be trialed for the next two (2) years. It has already been running successfully for some years in rural areas such as Orange, Bathurst and Wilcannia.

The benefits for people facing drink driving or other alcohol related offences in undertaking a program such as MERIT is that they have the chance to obtain treatment and support as opposed to either waiting in gaol or on bail until their Court matter is heard. In many instances defendants may not be able to satisfy the Court of their intention to rehabilitate. Participation in the MERIT program and successful completion of it is able to demonstrate to the Magistrate the level of commitment and willingness a person has to obtain treatment and rehabilitation for drug or alcohol problems. This can ultimately be reflected in the sentence that a dui attorney in sarasota fl Magistrate may impose at the end of the MERIT program.

Until recently MERIT was a Local Court based diversion program only for adult defendants with drug problems who were motivated and wanted to undertake drug treatment. Defendants who were assessed as suitable could undertake supervised drug treatment as part of their bail conditions. The program was typically three chino dui attorney months in duration. At final sentencing, the Magistrate is provided with a comprehensive report regarding the defendant’s participation in treatment.


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