Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Abuse Evaluations for DUI Offenders

Laws requiring anyone who is convicted of driving under the influence to be assessed for substance abuse treatment.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in every state for obvious reasons—it poses a serious danger to the public. DUI penalties have traditionally been aimed at deterring offenders through punishment. Hefty fines, jail time, and license suspension are among the most common penalties DUI offenders typically face.

But for certain offenders, punitive measures don’t seem to get the desired result. Regardless of the consequences, these offenders continue to get behind the wheel after drinking. Many state legislatures have concluded that to curb recidivism, DUI laws must address substance abuse. So, the DUI laws of many states now incorporate substance abuse evaluations into their DUI sentencing options.

How Court-Ordered Substance Abuse Evaluations Work

Specific procedures vary. But, generally, anyone ordered by a court to participate in a substance abuse evaluation will need to schedule a time to meet with a certified treatment provider. The provider might be directly affiliated with the court or part of a private institution that contracts with the court. Normally, the offender will have to pay a fee ($100 or so) for the evaluation.

The actual evaluation typically entails the completion of a questionnaire and an interview. At the interview, the evaluator might ask the offender a variety of questions about the questionnaire, the offender’s histories, and the current offense.

Based on the information obtained from the offender and a review of other relevant information (such as the offender’s criminal record), the evaluator will submit to the court recommendations for treatment. Depending on the circumstances, recommendations might include inpatient or outpatient treatment, drug and alcohol education classes, and the like.

In most cases, the judge will order the offender to complete all recommendations of the evaluation.

Which Offenders Must Complete Substance Abuse Evaluations

State laws differ quite a bit with regard to who must complete substance abuse evaluations. Some states have the evaluation requirement for all DUI offenders. In other states, substance evaluations are mandatory for only repeat offenders.

In states that have specialized DUI court or first-offender programs, substance abuse evaluations are normally required for program participants.

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