Sobriety Court Helps Former Drunk Driver Turn Life Around

A program helping alcoholics turn their lives around just had its first graduate.

The Northern Michigan Regional Sobriety Court has 50 participants from six counties.

The court is a two-year, 100% compliance program that’s two years old now, and just saw its first graduate.

“I was a full-blown alcoholic when I joined sobriety court. I was a daily drinker,” said Bob Rogers. He’s the court’s first graduate.

Two years ago, Bob Rogers was on his second third offense drunk driving charge.

He faced a choice: either go to jail or sign up for sobriety court and wean off his alcohol dependence.

“You have to want it, I believe. And being at my age in life and as many times as I’ve been arrested, wanting the program and wanting the change is what really helped me stay motivated.”

The program takes people from Roscommon, Kalkaska, Wexford, Missaukee, Ogemaw and Crawford counties.

Judge George Mertz says the process is intense.

“Very rigorous drug and alcohol testing. When you’re first part of the program you have to test for alcohol up to four to five times a day at a maximum, as well as a daily and weekly drug screen,” Mertz said.

You also have to attend therapy, individual and group sessions.

It is a $500 commitment.

But it is time Bob could have spent behind bars.

“He would have come out of jail or prison with really no better skills, no better way to deal with his underlying alcoholism than he did when he went in.”

But with hard work and compliance, Rogers turned his life around.

The program gave him a chance to drive again.

Now, he can work and help take care of his grandchild.

“You have to be willing to do it and be honest and accountable for everything that you do. It’s a great way of life. It’s Better than the alternative,” Rogers said.

The sobriety court is specifically for non-violent habitual offenders.