Displaying items by tag: Drug and Alcohol Assessment

Nearly all of our DUI defense clients will seek a drug and alcohol assessment. The court may order the evaluation or the client may choose to seek an evaluation to show she is proactive in determining whether substance abuse is an issue. As would be expected, most people are nervous and unsure about how an assessment will be handled. Often, it is the first time most clients have any interaction with the legal system and they will be anxious about being judged by a drug and alcohol counselor. 

Some people feel more at ease if they know what to expect at the evaluation. Not all evaluations are the same but here are some common issues the counselor will be addressing.

Common Issues:

1. The counselor will look at the criminal complaint to determine the nature of your criminal charge. 

2. The counselor will look at your criminal history. Basically, they are trying to verify whether this criminal charge is your one and only legal issue or if there is a pattern of similar behavior. From this history, they may extrapolate whether drugs or alcohol are contributing to this pattern. 

3. The counselor will look at the police narrative, which is the “story” of your arrest. From this, the evaluator can determine how impaired you presented during the event in question. For example, if you appeared to have no impairment and conducted yourself “normally” but your BAC was very high, this might be indicative of long term alcohol consumption in which you become conditioned to functioning with a high level of alcohol in your system. 

4. In the context of a DUI, the counselor will want to see the breath test ticket. Again, this is to look at how much you drank on a particular occasion. The higher the amount, the more likely they are to recommend treatment. 

5. They will perform a UA screen to determine if you have consumed alcohol within 24 hours of your evaluation or have smoked marijuana within the previous 30 days. 

6. The counselor will ask about your frequency of drinking alcohol or using marijuana each week. The more frequently you use, the more likely the counselor will find you have a substance abuse problem. 

7. The counselor will ask you about the number of drinks it takes you to feel affected by alcohol. They are trying to get a baseline of how alcohol impairs you and whether that baseline has changed over time. In other words, does it take you significantly more alcohol to feel impaired than it did in years past? 

8. There will likely be some other preliminary questions regarding family history and whether other members of your family have an issue with substance abuse. This may show a predisposition to a substance abuse disorder. 

9. Work history and personal life will also be discussed. The counselor is assessing whether alcohol or drug use has negatively impacted your professional life or personal relationships. For example, they may ask if you have been “written up” at work for coming in late or being impaired while on the job. Additionally, they may be curious to know whether a loved one has already asked you to seek treatment.

Check With Your Attorney

If you have questions about a drug and alcohol assessment, you should check with your attorney for further information and guidance. It is important to be honest with your evaluator so you can get the help you need but also so that you do not appear deceptive to the Court.

 

 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
November 29, 2018

Drug And Alcohol Assessment

If you are arrested for a DUI in the State of Washington, you will likely find yourself seeking a DUI drug and alcohol assessment. Some people wait until they are convicted of DUI and ordered to get this assessment. However, those represented by private counsel will seek the evaluation in advance to have better negotiating tools.

 

The assessment is used to determine whether you have a problem with drugs and alcohol and whether that problem contributed to criminal behavior. The report from your assessment will indicate whether there is no substance abuse concern or if treatment is suggested. If treatment is warranted, there will be an indication as to the length and whether inpatient or outpatient is advised.

 What you will need:

To comply with the rules in Washington, the report must be from a state certified agency and the person conducting your assessment must indicate that he or she has reviewed the following documents:

 

1) Your driving abstract

2) Your criminal history

3) The police narrative/report regarding your recent arrest (including the result of your breathalyzer or blood draw from your arrest (if a blood draw, that won’t be immediately available))

4) Your criminal complaint

Give your attorney enough notice to collect the items

These documents are likely already in your attorney’s file. However, occasionally, discovery from the Prosecutor can take awhile. If you set your assessment appointment and the counselor does not have these documents, most facilities will not conduct the assessment. For this reason, always give your attorney (or staff), at least 5 business days notice of your assessment date. This should give sufficient time to fax documents to the proper location and to notify you if certain documents are not available.

 

Depending on where you are in the criminal justice process, you may not want to share the results of your assessment with anyone except your attorney. Occasionally, an assessment counselor will suggest treatment that seems extreme for your alcohol use. In those situations, many of our clients will choose to pay for a second assessment to see if similar advice is on the second report. This allows the client to decide which report to submit to the court. Keep this in mind when you go for your assessment and you are asked who should receive a copy of the report. We ask that our clients choose only their attorney at Witt Law Group.

Assessments for minors:

Finally, be aware that many agencies will not do assessments for minors. When making the appointment, be sure to notify them if you are under 18 years old. Additionally, if you are using insurance to pay for the assessment, make sure the agency you are using will accept insurance—and yours specifically. Most people pay for the assessment out of pocket so it is quite possible that you may arrive to find that the agency doesn’t accept insurance.

 

If you have questions about where to go for your assessment or what to expect, you can contact your attorney. Remember, it is normal that you’ll feel anxious or irritated that you need to do this. Essentially, someone is trying to decide if you abuse substances. If you feel that you don’t have a problem, just the notion of someone asking can put you on the defense. Try to be open to the process and realize that it has to be done. Try to relax and never drink or use any drugs before your appointment. There will be a urinalysis (UA) screening on the day of your assessment and it will establish that you were not sober for your appointment—not a good sign. Additionally, the UA is very sensitive and can pick up whether you are trying to “fool” the test (drinking a ton of water or using substances to mask drugs) and, again, this does not make you look good. Put your best foot forward so you can put this portion of the process behind you.

Published in Criminal Defense