A DUI charge is serious since it can potentially cause you to lose everything. This charge can stay on your record for several years, which means that it could affect your ability to keep or get a job. You will also need to worry about possibly losing your license or dealing with jail time. Today, most states have adopted a zero-tolerance policy that means you will be dealing with some type of serious penalty if you are found guilty. Yet, state and local governments are also deciding to take a proactive and compassionate approach to DUIs by trying to get people the help they need to stop getting behind the wheel while they are inebriated.
The news that you must take a DUI evaluation can be scary when you are already dealing with legal trouble. After all, you may worry that being truthful about your habits could cause you to end up with even more serious penalties. Understanding how DUI evaluations work and the effect that they can have on your sentence helps you know what to do during this phase of your case.
What Happens During a DUI Evaluation?
A DUI evaluation is a lot like any other type of medical consultation. They last around an hour to 90 minutes. During this time, you will speak with a substance abuse professional who will ask you some questions about your current and past habits. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire such as an alcohol use inventory. They may also inquire about your personal relationships and work history to find out if drinking or using drugs has affected these parts of your life. You may also be given a mental health screening to find out if you may have any underlying health conditions that affect your ability to avoid driving under the influence.
Once all of the information is gathered, the evaluator will review it along with other possible evidence from your arrest. They may look at your blood alcohol content results and review any prior history that you have with DUIs. Finally, they’ll put together the results, and you should receive them within a few days. If it is found that you are at risk of having a substance abuse problem or getting another DUI, then you may be referred to seek further treatment.
How Should I Handle My Evaluation?
Being arrested for a DUI may already have you feeling defensive. You may be trying to prove your innocence in court, or you may hope to at least avoid the more serious penalties. This can cause you to feel like you should lie or at least whitewash the truth during your evaluation. Unfortunately, this can actually do more harm than any kind of good.
The DUI evaluation is not meant to get you in more trouble. Instead, the state wants to give people a way to get help for the true issues that led to the DUI. The people within the legal system know that simply sitting in jail is not going to help someone who has a substance abuse issue. Instead, you need professional counseling and therapy that stops you from becoming a repeat offender. Take your evaluation seriously, and try to look at it as an opportunity to finally get help with your addiction. The evaluator is a neutral party who will offer you their best professional opinion on ways that you can get the help that you need.
Will the Results Affect My Sentence?
In many cases, evaluations are done after the sentencing is over, and you may be court-mandated to do one as a requirement to stay out of jail. DUI evaluations are often given as a condition of probation, and it should not affect your sentence unless you refuse to follow up with your referral. In some cases, the evaluation may be done before sentencing. If this is the case for you, then the results are not used to prove guilt. Instead, they are used to guide the judge’s decision regarding sentencing, and it works in your favor to go to a treatment center rather than jail.
Choosing to seek treatment allows you to begin working on your recovery. While it will take some time and work, this is the only way to end the cycle of addiction so that you can feel safe driving again. Take the evaluation results seriously, and follow through with the recommendations for treatment. This one decision could protect you from dealing with the harsh penalties that come with future DUIs.
Are you ready to avoid getting a DUI ever again? Give us a call today to begin the process of overcoming your addiction. Call us today at 302-842-2390.