In Washington State, people convicted of a DUI or other alcohol or drug-related criminal traffic charges are required to undergo an evaluation for drug and alcohol use. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine whether the offense reflects a one-time error in judgment or if there is a chemical dependency problem that needs to be addressed.
Necessary Documents for an Alcohol and Drug Evaluation
The evaluation must be done by a professional certified by the state of Washington as an alcohol, drug, and chemical dependency evaluator. At a minimum, the evaluator must consider the following to complete an alcohol and drug evaluation:
- The results of the in-person assessment
- The results of the urinalysis taken during the assessment
- The criminal history of the driver;
- The driver's driving record; and
- The underlying police report, including the results of the blood or breath test.
Possible Findings of Alcohol and Drug Evaluations
There are a few different findings that may come out of a chemical use assessment. The words of the findings may vary, but the general concepts of chemical use and evaluation include the following categories:
- Chemical dependency;
- Chemical abuse;
- Chemical abuse potential; or
- Insufficient evidence of a chemical use problem (a.k.a. no significant problem (NSP))
Based on the findings, the assessment also includes recommendations for treatment if needed. Persons convicted of DUI are expected to follow those recommendations as a condition of probation.
Possible Recommendations based on Alcohol and Drug Evaluations
If there is a finding of chemical dependency, an appropriate treatment program will be recommended. This may include inpatient treatment or intensive outpatient treatment, depending on the following:
- No Significant Problem: If there is insufficient evidence of a chemical use problem, you will be expected to take a one-day class on alcohol and drug use.
- Early Intervention: If there is evidence that you don't have a problem but are at risk of developing a problem, you may be required to complete an early intervention program lasting anywhere from 8-16 weeks.
- Chemical Abuse: If there is a finding of chemical abuse, an out-patient program may be recommended involving both group and individual counseling sessions. Typical chemical abuse programs range in length from six to twelve months depending on the individual's specific needs.
- Chemical Dependency: If there is a finding of chemical dependency, there may be a recommendation of in-patient treatment followed by an out-patient program. Typical chemical dependency programs range in length from twelve to twenty-four months.
The Best Time to Do the Alcohol or Drug Evaluations
Some people wait until they are convicted of a DUI offense to get their alcohol or drug evaluation. While this is an option, it's not the best option.
Prosecutors and judges alike consider individuals and their actions after the charges are filed when evaluating how to treat each defendant. People who have been proactive in addressing potential chemical dependency issues tend to receive more favorable dispositions. People who don't have chemical dependency issues or chemical abuse issues are better served by having proof of this via an evaluation from a certified alcohol, drug, and chemical dependency evaluator.
While completing this evaluation is not required unless convicted, a favorable assessment completed in advance may be useful in plea negotiations and provides the judge with proof that the individual is taking the charge seriously. Most attorneys have agencies that they recommend over others. It's wise to check with your defense counsel about when and where to obtain your assessment.
If You are Facing DUI Charges...
If you are facing DUI charges, don't face them alone. Having an experienced DUI attorney in your corner provides you with the benefit of someone who knows the laws and the expectations of the court. Pewitt Law Group, PLLC handles DUI cases regularly. Not only can Sheri Pewitt guide you through the criminal and civil process, she can refer you to a state certified alcohol, drug, and chemical dependency evaluator to begin the assessment process. DUI charges carry lasting and serious consequences. Your best bet is to hire an advocate who understands each step of the process. Sheri Pewitt has the experience you need. Contact Pewitt Law Group, PLLC online or at 206-941-0009 today.