Drug Courts

Drug courts combine intensive judicial supervision, mandatory drug testing, treatment and incentives to help offenders with substance abuse problems break the cycle of addiction and crime.

Drug court teams are typically led by a judge and include a prosecutor, defense counsel, treatment provider, probation officers, law enforcement and court coordinator who work together to support and monitor a participant's recovery. They maintain a critical balance of authority, supervision, support and encouragement.

Court programs require intensive supervision based on frequent drug testing and court appearances, and implement tightly structured treatment processes and recovery services. This high level of supervision allows supervisors to react swiftly to impose appropriate sanctions or reinstate criminal proceedings when participants do not comply with the program.


Pennsylvania's first drug court lead to the creation of the Pennsylvania Association of Drug Court Professionals (PADCP), an advocate for the establishment of drug courts throughout the Commonwealth. Learn more.

Adult Drug/DUI Court Accreditation Program

The objective of the accreditation process is to assess a problem solving court's adherence to the 10 Key Components of Drug Courts, which are the nationally recognized framework for program operation. Close adherence to these components has a direct correlation with program outcomes.

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current as of April 2017

The Key Components of Drug Courts

  • Drug courts integrate alcohol and other drug treatment services with justice system case processing.
  • Using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety while protecting participants’ due process rights.
  • Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed in the drug court program.
  • Drug courts provide access to a continuum of alcohol and other drug and related treatment and rehabilitation services. 
  • Abstinence is monitored by frequent alcohol and other drug testing.
  • A coordinated strategy governs drug court responses to participants’ compliance.
  • Ongoing judicial interaction with each drug court participant is essential.
  • Monitoring and evaluation measure the achievement of program goals and gauge effectiveness.
  • Continuing interdisciplinary education promotes effective drug court planning, implementation and operations.
  • Forging partnerships among drug courts, public agencies and community-based organizations generates local support and enhances drug court effectiveness.