In virtually every criminal case that involves the use of drugs or alcohol, at some point in time the court will likely order a drug and/or alcohol evaluation from a state certified treatment agency. If a person is convicted for DUI, the evaluation is mandatory. If the DUI charge is reduced to a lesser charge (Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment, Negligent Driving First Degree) the court in almost every circumstance will order the alcohol evaluation as a condition of sentence. The court will then order that the person follow the treatment recommendations made by the agency. With that in mind, possibly one of the most important things a person charged with a DUI can do is to undergo the alcohol evaluation at the earliest possible moment. This will show both the court and prosecutor that you are being proactive and will allow you to know what the recommended treatment plan (or lack thereof) will be. Before setting up your appointment for an evaluation, there are a few things you must know: The evaluation process; the potential outcomes of the evaluation; and the importance of discussing your case and circumstances with a DUI lawyer prior to participating in an evaluation.
The Evaluation Process
The process of going through a drug or alcohol evaluation based upon a DUI arrest is relatively straightforward but there are a few things to bear in mind. First, the treatment agency, prior to making a recommendation, is required to have certain information about you. It will need to be provided with a copy of your driving record, a copy of your criminal history, and a copy of the officer’s arrest report. This information can be provided by either you or your attorney. Additionally, you may need to undergo a drug and alcohol urinalysis screening, the results of which are factored into the recommendation. The evaluation itself consists of some written testing as well as some oral questioning. After all of the objective and subjective information has been taken into account, the counselor will draft a written report of his or her findings and recommendations.
While there are certainly a range of potential outcomes, the counselor will basically place one of three different labels on the individual. At the end of the process, the person will either be deemed to be chemically dependent upon drugs or alcohol, to be suffering from drug or alcohol abuse or the potential for abuse, or that there is insufficient evidence to support a finding that the person has any problem with drugs or alcohol. If a person falls into the “dependency” category, the alcohol counselor will recommend some form of a lengthy treatment option, anywhere from eight months to two years. The recommended treatment would involve group and individual meetings to be held at a certified treatment facility as well as periodic self help meetings (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous). If the person is placed into the “abuse” or “abuse potential” category, the recommendation could range anywhere from a few individual counseling sessions to further explore the abuse potential or a more lengthy program of up to six to twelve months. It may or may not include participation in separate self help meetings. Finally, the counselor may determine there is insufficient evidence of a problem in which case he or she will recommend participation in a one day alcohol and drug information school.
The Importance of Discussing Your Case With A DUI Lawyer First
Even thought the process itself is straight forward enough, a knowledgeable and experienced DUI lawyer must be consulted before engaging in a treatment evaluation. By reviewing the facts of your case with you beforehand, as well as your own individual circumstances and history, a DUI lawyer can help refer you to the best certified treatment agency for your needs. Once a court is made aware of the treatment recommendations, it most likely will order that the recommendation be followed, whether it was an accurate finding or not.
If you have questions about this process, please feel free to contact a Seattle DUI lawyer at Milios Defense. We would be glad to consult with you about your options and the evaluation process.