Minnesota Tenth Judicial District Judge James E. Dehn was presented the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies’ Distinguished Public Leadership Award last week for his extensive work to reduce drunk driving in Minnesota. In nearly three decades on the bench, Judge Dehn has established and overseen numerous initiatives designed to reduce drunk driving and prevent recidivism among DWI offenders: putting multiple-repeat DWI offenders on the home pre-trial electronic alcohol-monitoring program; pioneering the DUI “Staggered Sentencing” program, which allows repeat DUI offenders to spread out their actual jail sentences over several years, with sentence reduction incentives for staying sober; working with community leaders and business owners to establish the Isanti County SafeCab program, which reduced DWIs in the county by more than 67 percent by 2013, and for 20 years tracking the “last place of drink” for every drunken driver pleading before him, to support training of restaurant employees and to lay groundwork for the SafeCab program. Due to his groundbreaking – and proven – work on combating drunk driving in Minnesota, Judge Dehn is frequently asked to testify before the Minnesota Legislature regarding the state’s drunk driving laws. He has also taught creative sentencing to Minnesota judges for nearly 20 years and has been an adjunct instructor at the National Judicial College in Reno since 2002.
“As a judge, I am often witness to the devastation drunk driving can cause,” said Judge Dehn. “I’ve spent a large part of my career working to reduce drunk driving in our community, and prevent even more families from seeing a loved one killed or seriously hurt by a drunk driver. I am honored to receive this award, and share it with the many individuals and organizations in our community that are working on smart, innovative approaches to keep drunk drivers off the road.”