This article provides an overview of the common circumstances leading to a court-ordered drug and alcohol assessment, what the evaluation consists of, and what happens after the evaluation. When a person is arrested for a DUI , the court will likely require the offender to undergo a substance abuse evaluation at some point during the criminal proceedings. Some states require the evaluation to be completed before an offender is sentenced.
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In those states, the substance abuse evaluation impacts how a judge sentences an offender and can sometimes reduce, eliminate, or increase penalties that would otherwise be imposed. Other states require the evaluation within a certain period of time after sentencing as a condition of probation or part of a diversion, deferred sentencing, or similar program. A court-ordered evaluation typically consists of a detailed interview with a certified treatment provider. Sometimes the offender is required to provide a drug and alcohol urinalysis screening as well. Based on the interview, supporting documents, and results of the urinalysis, the treatment provider will typically make a recommendation for a specific treatment program.
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Generally, the offender is responsible for the costs of the evaluation and the treatment program. If the evaluation determines that an offender has a substance abuse condition, there will typically be a treatment recommendation.
The types of treatment programs vary by state. But generally, treatment programs must provide a curriculum that includes counseling, assessments, and risk reduction. However, generally, the more significant the substance abuse problem, the longer and more intense the required treatment program will be. For example, the circumstances of the arrest might indicate the DUI was the result of a single instance of bad judgment rather than a substance abuse problem.
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However, even if no drug or alcohol issues are identified, many states still require DUI offenders to complete a substance abuse education course or some other minimum requirements. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site.
The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising. The range of treatment opportunities and legal requirements varies from state to state, but all 50 states and the District of Columbia require some sort of alcohol education or treatment as part of the legal consequences for committing a drinking and driving offense. Here is a general overview of how alcohol classes may be able to help lessen the severity of a drunk driving conviction.
That is usually the case even if you've been able to plead down to a lesser charge like reckless driving. The most commonly referred program is Alcoholics Anonymous AA , which is also the oldest.
An official evaluation for the court may be slightly different than the regular intake process for voluntary treatment. Typically, you'll need to provide a copy of your driving record, criminal history, and arrest report.
You'll also have to submit to a drug screening and fill in a questionnaire about your history with alcohol and drug use. Based on this evaluation, the counselor will write an assessment and recommendations to be submitted to the court. The resulting evaluation will place you in one of three categories, each with a program recommendation:. The judge will then take the assessment into consideration along with your willingness to cooperate, your criminal history, and your ability to take responsibility for your actions before deciding your sentence.
Based on the judge's determination and your level of cooperation, your penalties might increase or you may receive a deferred sentence pending successful program completion.
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More awareness of the problem has also encouraged states to find better solutions. There is now a range of DUI education programs that are designed to meet the personal and legal circumstance of those in their jurisdiction. The goal of alcohol education classes is to prevent a recurrence while providing information about the impact of drinking and driving. The options are, in order of severity:. Recent statistics note that 36 percent of all substance abuse treatment referrals come from the criminal justice system. That accounts for about , referrals out of the nearly 2 million each year.
Since the passage of Proposition 36 in , the state of California has offered treatment programs as an alternative to serving jail time. The minimum requirement in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is completion of either a state-sponsored education program like the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program or attendance at a program like AA, which is the minimum standard in California.
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Most states will allow out-of-state DUI defendants to take an equivalent alcohol education course in their home state if one is available. Currently, there are 24 states that won't accept certificates from online drunk driving education programs, including:.