Drug/Alcohol Evaluations and Treatment
There has been a great increase in the Washington prison population in the past 25 years and most of the increase is due to non-violent drug and alcohol-related crimes. The state of Washington is hard-pressed to find a way to bring down the prison population, while at the same time, cut costs and provide help for people. Alcohol and drug evaluation is one of the ways the state of Washington does this. A court has the option of ordering people to get treatment for their addiction to drugs and alcohol. This helps keep the population down and transfers the burden off the state to individuals.
At The Curtis Firm, LLC, we have the training and experience to vigorously defend your rights in a DUI case. With a track record of getting over 90% of our clients' DUI cases dismissed or reduced, you are in safe hands when you bring your case to us.
What is Alcohol and Drug Evaluation?
When a criminal case is brought before the court that involves the use of drugs and alcohol, the court will order an alcohol and drug evaluation from a state-certified agency.
This evaluation is mandatory if the defendant is convicted of a DUI. However, if the charge is reduced to a lesser one, such as reckless driving, reckless endangerment or negligent driving first degree, the evaluation is ordered as a condition of sentence.
The sentence or state's offer could be dependent on the result of the evaluation. The court will also mandate that you follow the treatment recommendations made by the agency.
Having prior knowledge of this can help if you are faced with a DUI charge; you could undergo the evaluation early. This will show the court and the prosecution that you are proactive and it will also allow you to know what treatment recommendation plan you will have.
There are some things you need to consider before setting up an appointment for alcohol and drug evaluation:
- It may be in your best interest to meet with a DUI lawyer to discuss the circumstances of your case prior to the evaluation
- The evaluation process: you need to know what to expect throughout the process
- The potential outcomes of the evaluation
Getting the services of a DUI lawyer
The process of getting an alcohol and drug evaluation is a fairly straightforward one. However, it is a good idea to consult with your lawyer before you do. Your lawyer can help review your history and the circumstances surrounding your case. With this knowledge, he or she can help refer you to the best certified treatment agency for you.
The evaluation process
The treatment agency will need to have information about you. They will need a copy of your driving record, a copy of your conviction history and a copy of the arresting officer's report. You can choose to provide this information yourself or have your attorney do it for you.
You may also need to undergo a drug and alcohol urinalysis screening. The results will be factored into your recommendation. Aside from this, you will answer questions that will influence the recommendations of your assessment.
The agency counselor will take all this information into account and will draft a written report of his or her findings and recommendation(s).
The potential outcomes
The potential outcomes are many, but the counselor's result will place you in one of three categories.
- You can be deemed chemically dependent on drugs or alcohol
- You can be deemed to be suffering from drug or alcohol abuse or the potential for abuse
- There could be insufficient evidence to support a finding that you have a drug or alcohol problem.
If you fall into the category of chemical dependence on drugs, the counselor will recommend a treatment regimen of between eight months and two years. The regimen will likely involve group and individual meetings at a certified treatment facility as well as periodic self-help meetings. These are also referred to as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
If you fall into the category of persons with abuse or abuse potential, the counselor could recommend a few individual counseling sessions to further explore the abuse potential. He or she could also recommend a lengthier program of between six to twelve months. It may include participation in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or not.
If you fall into the category where the counselor did not find sufficient evidence of a drug or alcohol problem, they may recommend participation in a one-day alcohol and drug information school.
What are the questions I can expect to be asked during my alcohol and drug evaluation?
Questions about your family history
The purpose of this is to determine whether any of your family members, related by blood, have had alcohol or drug dependence issues. Alcohol and drug dependence is believed to be hereditary and if any member of your family had the dependence, then the chances of your having it as well are influenced.
Questions about how you consume alcohol
Your drinking patterns will be examined. You will answer questions like when you started drinking, how often you drink and how much you drink. Studies have shown those who started drinking alcohol at or before the age of 15, are at greater risks of having an alcohol consumption problem in their later years. The other questions will focus on your drinking habits during the last 12 months and since the incident that prompted the DUI charge.
Be sure to be mindful of any alcohol consumption following your arrest. There may be consequences to consuming alcohol daily or periodically consuming alcohol in excess (more than four drinks).
Questions about how alcohol and drugs affect your life
This centers around how the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs affects your work, family and personal life. The greater the effect, the more likely it is that you have a substance abuse problem.
Your readiness to change
The counselor will ask you about what you learned from the experience and if you have a desire to change your habits. The counselor will detail your responses and make recommendations.
Can I stop attending my alcohol and drug evaluations?
The answer is “No, you cannot stop attending until the evaluation is complete.” Failure to complete your evaluation and/or treatment program will result in you getting harsher sentencing than you would have gotten. It is deemed a probation violation and it is seriously frowned upon by the courts.
Also, the department of motor vehicles (DMV) will not reinstate your driving privileges until you provide proof that you have completed the evaluation program and the recommended treatment.
We can help
Navigating through the system can be a bit complex. However, bringing us on board from the beginning will help make things easier for you. We will do all the hard work and give you feedback as events unfold.
If you or someone you care about has been arrested for DUI in Washington, you need an experienced DUI attorney to defend your case and protect your constitutional rights.
Experienced DUI defense attorney James Curtis at The Curtis Firm, LLC can help with your criminal case. Contact us today for a free consultation.