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Parents propose drug awareness plan as sentencing alternative for teen offenders

Your Choice program offered as sentencing alternative

Dec. 11, 2012

Village of Hartland - A local drug and alcohol abuse awareness organization will be asking the Lake Country Municipal Court to consider using one of its educational programs as a sentencing alternative in cases involving teenagers cited for underage driving, drunken driving and other related misdemeanors.

The communities served by the court include the towns of Oconomowoc, Merton, Ixonia, Erin, Lisbon, Delafield and the villages of Merton, Hartland, Lac La Belle, Summit, Nashotah, Dousman, Chenequa, Sullivan, Sussex and the City of Oconomowoc.

Hartland Police Chief Robert J. Rosch said he will ask the Operations Sub Committee of the municipal court Wednesday to consider making a recommendation to the court's Administration Committee about the Detour program offered by Your Choice-Live.

The administration committee is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the court that serves the 17 Lake Country communities but has no authority over Lake Country Municipal Court Judge Timothy Kay.

Kay was elected in April by voters in the 17 municipalities to replace Judge Doug Stern who decided not to seek reelection

Kay, who tentatively plans to attend the Wednesday morning sub committee, said he was not familiar with Your Choice-Live or the program they were proposing.

"However, I am all eyes and ears to anyone who has a realistic alternative to dealing with teenage drinking other than just issuing fines and suspending drivers licenses," he said.

Hartland-based Your Choice -Live is unique among drug and alcohol abuse organizations in that it is compromised of families whose teenagers suffered alcohol and drug addictions. The family members share their experiences through a series of workshops and other educational programs.

The organization focuses on providing teenagers and their parents with fact-based, nonjudgmental information regarding the causes of addiction, the choices teenagers and families face regarding addiction, the consequences of those choices, and how to deal with addiction, according to Ashleigh Nowakowski, a spokeswoman for the group.

The organization was recently named the Small Non Profit Organization of the Year by Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas.

Nowakowski was recently certified as a trainer to present the PRIME for Life program.

Nowakowski is the brother of Tyler Lybert whose addiction was featured in an award-winning Lake Country Publications series on drug and alcohol addiction in Lake County. Tyler's parents, Sandi and Rick Lybert were among the founders of Your Choice-Live.

PRIME for Life is a national drug and alcohol abuse reduction program upon which the Detour program, created by Your Choice-Live, is based.

The programs focus on helping participants reduce the risk of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. The program is also intended to help participants understand and accept changes they need to make in order to protect themselves against addiction.

The program includes 12 hours of classwork that includes workbooks, videos and interaction with peers. One element of the program that was added by Your Choice-Live is the requirement that parents must attend a one-hour education session, according Nowakowski.

Rosch said the program has the potential of being used on two levels of the criminal justice system. He said local authorities might require a young offender to participate in the program as an alternative to receiving a citation for underage drinking.

"Underage drinking can be treated differently than a DUI. Anyone cited for DUI is going to receive a citation, but for underage drinking local law enforcement or the local prosecutor might use the training as an alternative to a citation," Rosch explained.

He said the courts might also use Detour as an alternative. He said the judge and municipal prosecutors could require the Detour program in lieu of a fine or in addition to a fine.

Rosch said Kay and the municipal court prosecutors representing the various municipalities will have to agree on how the program might be used.

All offenses in municipal court are misdemeanors and sentences usually include fines along with drivers' license suspensions.

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