Drug & Alcohol – Chemical Dependency Evaluations In DUI / Drunk Driving Cases

Determining Substance Abuse Disorder After A DUI Arrest

If you have been requested or ordered to seek a chemical dependency evaluation, the process can be frustrating and even confusing. First, do not be surprised if you hear various terms used when referencing this process. Providers, attorneys, and court staff will often refer to it as both an evaluation and an assessment. Those terms are interchangeable. Additionally, depending on your jurisdiction or the purpose for which you are attending an evaluation, you may hear it termed a “drug and alcohol,” “chemical dependency,” or a “substance use disorder” evaluation/assessment. 

State Certified

While many attorneys and court staff use various terms to describe an evaluation, there is only one type that will work for Washington State criminal cases. If you have been ordered or plan to submit an evaluation to help with negotiation of your criminal case, the evaluation must be performed by a state-certified Chemical Dependency Professional. Additionally, the document that is provided to the court must clearly indicate that the evaluator has reviewed: 1)  your Driving Abstract, 2) the police narrative/report from the incident/current case, 3) your criminal history, and 4) criminal complaint/charging documents.

What To Expect

We have written extensively on this topic but, for purposes of this blog, the basics to know are 1) plan for 1-2 hours, 2) come with picture ID, 3) be sure the required documents (listed above) are at the agency in advance otherwise they may cancel your appointment, and 4) you will be required to provide a UA to test for the presence of alcohol and drugs. Do not try to dilute your urine sample otherwise this will be presumed a positive test.


What Can They Recommend?

In the context of a criminal case, the assessment will indicate whether you have a problem with  alcohol or drugs and recommend a specific level of care. On occasion, the assessment may also advise that the individual follow up with additional assessments such as a mental health or a domestic violence perpetrator evaluation. Some agencies can provide all of the various types of assessments but this is not common.

If the evaluator finds that you have No Significant Problem (NSP), the Alcohol/Drug Information School (ADIS) will be recommended. This is an 8 hour class and, in Washington criminal cases, this is the lowest level of care/assignment that can be recommended.

DUI Drunk Driving Evaluations or assessments can recommend some out patient treatment that includes group sessions.
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Attorney Ryan Witt
Attorney Jennifer Witt

Other recommendations include: 1) outpatient services (typically includes group attendance and individual appointments required), 2) intensive outpatient services (this tends to average 2x the number of group and individual sessions and regular outpatient), 3) relapse prevention (typically the same time commitment as outpatient services), 4) inpatient (the time commitment varies but this is often advised for those who will need medical assistance with detox), and 5) Deferred Prosecution 2 year requirements (the required treatment is formalized by the Washington State legislature and is very strict).

Out Of State Evaluations

If you move out of state while your case is pending, it may be acceptable to seek an evaluation in another state. First, you must make sure that you are allowed to travel or move out of state while the case is pending and/or following the resolution of your case (certain types of cases require pre-approval). Second, you will want to discuss with your attorney whether the out of state whether the out of state agency you want to use will meet the Washington courts’ standards. 

Typically, if the out of state agency is state certified where they are located and the assessment professionals agree to confirm they have reviewed the Washington required documents, the evaluation should be acceptable. As a word of caution, never simply assume that a treatment provider is state certified. Find their accreditations on their website, or ask them.

Active Duty Military Service Members

Often, individuals in the Armed Forces will be required by their Command to receive an evaluation within their branch of the military. Not all courts will accept this evaluation. And, on occasion, the evaluation might be acceptable to the Probation Department yet the prosecutor may have set an additional requirement for a civilian-side evaluation as part of an alternative case resolution. This can complicate matters so discuss the issue with your attorney well in advance of any deadlines to file your evaluation. 


If you are using a military-provided evaluation, double check with the Probation Department that they will accept (and give you credit for) your evaluation. If you hired a private defense attorney, you should discuss the issue prior to contacting Probation or filing any documents. There can be strategic reasons that your attorney does not want you to file your military evaluation.

Lastly, all Probation Departments have a localized and preferred method of transferring documents. When using an out of state evaluator, the agency may need to be advised of the method and content that is required in Washington. As mentioned above, the court will not accept an evaluation that does not specifically note the required documents were reviewed by the person who performed the evaluation.

Employer & Family Law Assessments

It is common for employees to be referred for an assessment (often through their HR department) where an employee’s addiction is impacting employment responsibilities or performance. If there are questions or concerns with that process, Employment Law attorneys can often assist with guidance and counsel on the process and your rights.

In Family Law cases, where there is an issue with custody or parental fitness, an evaluation may be requested by the GAL assigned to the case, ordered by a judge, or the parents/parties may each wish to submit their own due to a contentious divorce or custody battle. If an evaluation is advised or required under one of these circumstances, the individual be evaluated should seek counsel from an experienced Family Law attorney in the jurisdiction where the case is filed.

If you are facing a DUI / DWI / Drunk Driving / Physical Control criminal charge in western Washington and need expert counsel, Witt Law Group attorneys are available 7 days a week. (360) 792-1000

Ryan and Jen Witt of Witt Law Group, Kitsap County defense and personal injury lawyers

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Whether you choose to handle your case alone or engage the Witt Law Group, being informed and prepared is essential. Early involvement of an attorney can significantly impact your chances of a fair recovery, allowing you to focus on healing while we handle negotiations with insurance adjusters to secure fair compensation for your injuries.

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