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Graduate: DUI court ‘saved my life’

POSTED: November 25, 2009 4:00 a.m.
Frank Reddy Dawson Community News/

Bob King, director of treatment court, looks on while Superior Court Judge Jason Deal announces the program's 13 graduates. In the foreground are the plaques and medallions each graduate received.

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With tears and smiles, members of Penny Anderson’s family congratulated her after the recent treatment court graduation at the Dawson County Courthouse.

  

The 26-year-old Dawson County resident was one of five people to complete the DUI track, which strives to change the behavior of those who enter.

  

If you ask Anderson, it worked.

  

“I want to thank everyone who’s made this program possible, because it does save lives,” she told the group of more than 100 at the ceremony Nov. 19. “It saved my life.”

  

Also graduating were the eight people who finished the drug portion of treatment court.

  

Bob King, director of drug court, said it was the court’s largest graduation to date.

  

“This is big for Dawson County,” said King, adding that there had been seven previous drug court graduations and 28 for driving under the influence.

  

Those who graduated last week received a medallion from King and a plaque from Superior Court Judge Jason Deal.

  

The DUI track is mandatory for habitual violators, while the drug program is optional and gives participants a chance to avoid a jury trial.

  

“The medallion is so they’ll remember their time in DUI court,” King said.

Anderson said she will have no trouble doing that.

  

“It’s been an adventure,” she said. “It was tough, it was scary, but it was worth it in the end ... I don’t think I would have ever gotten sober if it weren’t for this program.”

  

Deal congratulated Anderson, shaking her hand at the ceremony.

  

“Penny didn’t give up. She has done just great,” Deal said. “She’s a very different person with a very different outlook than who I first met years ago. I’m real proud of her.”

  

Prior to graduation, those in attendance were treated to music by Jeremy Knowles, Gordy Hunt and Billy Leusing.

  

Guest speaker Stephanie Woodard, solicitor general for Hall County, also addressed the group.

  

“Thank you for accepting the challenges of drug court ... thank you for learning how to handle your stress, how to take one breath at a time,” Woodard said. “On behalf of this community, congratulations. We’re very proud of you.”

 

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