How Can An Alcohol And Drug Assessment Help A DUI Case?
An alcohol and drug assessment can help a DUI case especially when someone gets in an accident and there are many injuries and someone has a real high blood alcohol level. Depending on how high it is, the prosecutors and judges will just assume, “Oh, this person is an alcoholic, they have this problem”. With an assessment, you can show from a professional standpoint what’s going on with your life, who you are and kind of dig deeper into what you’re all about to show that this is a kind of one-time aberration and that you clearly have your act together and you’re taking steps to make sure it never happens again; that can be very helpful in the defense of your case. It can be something that can be used to share with a probation officer who is doing an evaluation. It can be used to show a judge or a prosecutor or a prosecutor’s supervisor who is demanding that their prosecutors go after you extremely hard. It can get people to see who you are and what you’re really about and it is a very useful tool in some cases in some counties with the right type of case. Of course, we need the right type of client who is willing to listen to the attorney. When a client comes to me and says, “What can I do to help my case”, I kind of do a bit of an assessment, it’s actually an assessment from a legal standpoint and a personal one to help this person with their life and their future. I will recommend whether it be an assessment or going to meetings or going to their doctor, getting a referral to day treatment or residential treatment. It can be tough to get an insurance company to right away put someone in a residential treatment if it’s just their first DUI. Typically with the first DUI, in a lot of cases, someone does need to stop drinking and that would be a great first step. Usually that’s something that happens when someone has demonstrated that lapse in judgment multiple times and then we’re dealing with it second, third, fourth or more DUIs or alcohol related offenses on someone’s background.
Should I Set Up An Alcohol Or Drug Assessment Before It’s Required By The Court?
It depends, so I would talk to your lawyer about setting up an alcohol or drug assessment before it’s required by the court first. It’s something that is almost always going to be helpful to you personally. If you’re thinking about doing that, then you’ve probably been told by friends or family or co-workers that it’s something you should consider. Someone who’s telling you that clearly cares about you but I would get your attorney involved with that and that’s why it’s important to contact an attorney right after this happens. Most of the time, people contact me within a matter of days after being arrested for a DUI. I do get clients who contact me a day or two before their first court date and often those can be cases where we could have gotten them doing certain things to get their case off on a better foot. In some cases, depending on the county and the client’s case and the severity of the case, I might want someone to have started doing AA meetings or other types of meetings or have gotten in a residential or an outpatient program and yet there is not enough time if someone contacts me right before that first court date.
The reason for that can be that we may be going in front of a judge in a court where they’re going to require some type of intensive monitoring while the case is going on, which can mean an ankle bracelet, which could mean having to do testing, which could mean having to do a lot of meetings. When I walk into court with the client who contacted me two, three or four weeks or more before their court date, we can get all that set up ahead of time. I can walk in there and demonstrate to the court that my client has already taken responsibility especially in a case where I think the judge is going to require some type of monitoring. Instead of the client having to slap an expensive alcohol bulky monitor on their ankle and wear it around for months everywhere they go so anyone who can see their sock can see it, we may have been able to avoid that if they came to me earlier and we talk about what they needed to do. Maybe we could have gotten them into some counseling or doing some meetings and we’re able to bring proof of AA meetings or other types of meetings to court to show the judge that the client is taking responsibility and stepping up. The judge wants to know, “Is this person going to be a danger to society”, especially while this case is going on, while the judge is responsible for them.
I use a recent example. In Marin County, I had a client a number of months ago who had multiple DUIs and a blood alcohol level that was almost three times the legal limit. That client was still on probation and instead of the judge doing what they almost automatically do, especially when the prosecutor asks for it but they do it on their own, putting my client on an alcohol monitor, I had my client do AA meetings. That client was doing them at least five times a week and we were able to come into court with three or four weeks’ worth of five meetings or more a week. I showed that to the judge and the judge was impressed with that and did not require my client to get an alcohol monitor on their ankle. It doesn’t happen every time, but that was huge for the client who was searching for work and was doing interviews and also needed to not spend what can be thousand dollars or more a month having an ankle monitor on. A lot of times with those monitors, they will charge based on ability to pay. For some, that can be $30 or $40 a day to have that monitor on and you can do the math to see how that adds up.
We can get a much more serious case where someone has actually caused an accident, where someone else, either in their car or another car, has been injured and we’re talking a DUI with injury. Very often these are felonies because it doesn’t take much for an injury to be considered serious enough to be a felony injury. That person is, in many cases, going to be required to do monitoring, to do meetings and sometimes the bail goes up depending on the severity of the injury and the people who are involved.
In those cases, doing some additional treatment on top of the AA meetings is something that may help out. I’ve had clients who have, within a matter of hours, in fact we’ve called programs from my office, but usually within a matter of hours of leaving my office have contacted either their insurance company or programs that I’ve talked to them about and gotten in there in order to avoid potentially going back to jail or having that intensive monitoring that would have been required if they weren’t in a more intensive program when they went back into court.
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