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April 2014

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Lake Country Municipal Court will offer drug counseling for young offenders

Alternative sentencing now available

Village of Oconomowoc Lake - An alcohol and drug abuse alternative sentencing program for youngsters guilty of underage drinking and minor drug offenses is expected to be in place in the Lake Country Municipal Court by May 1, according to Judge Timothy Kay.

The Your Choice-Live Detour program is 12 hours of alcohol and drug abuse education and counseling, including a three-hour counseling session with the parents of the offender that is mandatory for successful completion of the program.

Successful completion of the program could result in a reduction in the fine associated with the offense and possibly prevent the suspension of the drivers' licenses of repeat underage drinking offenders.

Preteen and teenage offenders will have one opportunity to participate in the program. Failure to successfully complete the program could result in the reinstatement of a fine or penalty for the offense, according to members of a court operations committee.

The program will not erase the issuance of the municipal citation from the offender's police record.

"I want a record of the offense to remain that so that police officers and prosecutors will be able to identify when they are dealing with a second or third offense," Kay said.

Kay said he hoped that he and the court committee, working in consultation with the 17 communities served by the court, could have guidelines developed and the program ready to implement by May 1.

Police chiefs or their representatives from nine Lake Country communities, in addition to representatives from Arrowhead High School, voiced support for the program during a Feb. 14 meeting of the committee at Oconomowoc Lake Village Hall.

Kay and CommitteeChairman Don Weimer, police chief/administrator for the Village of Oconomowoc Lake, emphasized that the prosecutors for the individual municipalities would determine how the program is applied in each community.

"Nobody is going to be opposed to this, because everyone wants to find alternative programs that will help kids in Lake Country deal with drugs and alcohol," Weimer said after the meeting.

Delafield Police Chief Scott Traubel said he will talk to Judge C. Michael Housman about also implementing the program in the City of Delafield Municipal Court.

Lake Country Municipal Court serves the villages of Merton, Hartland, Lac La Belle, Summit, Nashotah, Dousman, Chenequa, Sullivan, Sussex and Oconomowoc Lake; the towns of Oconomowoc, Merton, Ixonia, Delafield, Lisbon and Erin and the City of Oconomowoc.

The program will not include the cities of Delafield and Pewaukee, the villages of Big Bend, Butler, Lannon, North Prairie, Pewaukee and Wales and the towns of Genesee and Mukwonago, because they have individual municipal courts.

The towns of Ottawa and Vernon are also not included in the program because drug- and alcohol-related citations in those communities are prosecuted by Waukesha County.

The program will be implemented at no cost to the court. However, there will be a $150 fee for the offender to pay for the 12 hours of classroom and counseling time and program materials, according to Sandi Lybert, program coordinator for Your Choice-Live.

The Detour program is patterned after Prime for Life, a successful national abuse risk reduction program, according to Lybert.

Lybert and her husband, Rick, founded Your Choice-Live in 2009 in an effort to provide support services and resources to other Lake Country families after watching their son Tyler battle a 10-year addiction to alcohol. Their daughter Ashleigh Nowakowski is a certified instructor in the Prime for Life program.

Kay said he observed a Your Choice-Live program at Kettle Moraine High School last month attended by about 300 parents and students. He said the presentation helped him decide to introduce the program in municipal court.

"Your presentation there was even better than your presentation here to the committee," he told the Your Choice Live representatives.

"I thought the high school kids really connected with Rick and Ashleigh. And I thought that the high school parents really connected with their parents," the judge said.

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