RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Seventh Circuit Judge Heidi Linngren has presided over Pennington County DUI court since it was established in 2013 ... and has seen 57 people complete the program.
Linngren considers DUI court the highlight of her career. But before moving to the bench ... Linngren worked as a defense attorney and a prosecutor and says back then ... she didn't believe court systems like these were the best way to handle drinking and driving charges.
"It was just this idea that we prosecuted people and we locked them and we showed the community that we are making them safe but in the end the transition for me was that the community isn't safe locking people up for small increments of time, we are only safe for those small increments of time' says Judge Heidi Linngren
But after seeing the court in action ... Linngren feels programs like these are the one way to help people overcome their problems.
"I can keep somebody sober with the 24/7 program for an indefinite amount of time. But when they put the work into it they make their healthy lives as a whole productive, and that's what I think is the most
important things about these programs and in my experience on the bench these programs are the only thing that truly-truly works." added Linngren
Linngren added that presiding over DUI court gives her a motherly feeling as she worries about those enrolled in the program and she gets great joy out of seeing them graduate.