Alcohol and Drug Abuse Evaluations for DUI Convictions

Mandatory court-ordered substance abuse evaluations for DUI offenders.

In many states, anyone convicted of a DUI (driving under the influence) must complete an alcohol and drug abuse evaluation. While penalties such as fines and jail time are designed to punish offenders, the goal of the substance abuse evaluation is to identify and treat any alcohol or drug dependencies the offender might have. Here are some of the basics about when an evaluation may be required and how these evaluations work.

What Is a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation?

An alcohol and drug evaluation (or substance abuse evaluation) typically consists of an interview with a licensed therapist or counselor to determine the presence and extent of any substance dependencies. The person being evaluated might also need to complete drug and alcohol testing and questionnaires about his or her history of alcohol and drug use.

In some states, substance abuse evaluations are conducted by a state agency. In other states, private entities that are licensed by the state conduct these court-order evaluations.

Substance abuse evaluations generally cost around $100 and may take an hour or two to complete.

What Types of Substance Treatment and Education Are Required?

Based on the results of the evaluation, the counselor or evaluator creates a treatment plan for the assessed individual. Assessment recommendations are, of course, individualized but can include:

  • Inpatient treatment. Offenders who are referred to inpatient treatment must complete a program at a live-in substance abuse treatment facility. The lengths of these programs typically range from about one month to six months.
  • Outpatient treatment. Offenders who receive an outpatient recommendation will have to attend a program at a treatment facility but will go home each night. Outpatient programs often require participants to be present for the entire day in the beginning but gradually decrease the required days and hours.
  • Group therapy and support groups. Addiction groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous may be a part of an offender's treatment plan. Oftentimes, an offender's treatment plan will require attendance at a certain number of these meetings per week.
  • Monitoring and testing. As part of an offender's treatment plan, it's common for counselors to recommend random testing, alcohol ankle monitoring, and the like.
  • Education programs. At a bare minimum, most counselors and states laws require DUI offenders to complete some sort of substance abuse education course.

In some states, the recommendations are almost completely up to the evaluator. Other states have minimum treatment requirements that might depend on factors such as how many prior DUI convictions the offender has and the offender's blood alcohol concentration.

When Is an Evaluation Required?

The laws of many states require anyone who is convicted of a DUI to complete alcohol and drug evaluation. (Non-DUI alcohol- and drug-related criminal convictions might also require the offender to obtain an evaluation.) And in states that have DUI diversion and DUI court programs, a substance abuse evaluation is generally required for all program participants. Even in situations where a substance abuse evaluation isn't mandatory, judges usually have the option of ordering an evaluation where they think it's appropriate.

In some states, offenders are required to complete a substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment before they'll be able to reinstate a suspended license. Completion of the evaluation and treatment can also be a prerequisite for the offender to obtain an ignition interlock restricted driver's license.

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