In general, people who require the services of a DUI defense attorney have one of two kinds of problems.
- Either they have a bad luck problem, meaning that their arrest was a mistake made by law enforcement, or that the incident was an isolated one, not likely to recur and they have NO problem with alcohol or other drugs; or
- They have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.
For people in the latter category, a DUI arrest may be an excellent opportunity to deal with something that has been bothering them on some level for a while. There are many benefits, both on the legal front and more importantly, in one’s personal life, to doing so. We often hear from people that the ugly event of the DUI arrest turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to them, because it set them firmly on a better path than they were headed for on their own.
Seeking help for a substance abuse issue requires a tremendous amount of courage, since to do so means taking a good look at one’s self to assess where they are, to be candid about where they want to be in their lives, and determine a new course of action to get there. That means change, and change means courage. Thankfully, people don’t have to be at “rock bottom” in their lives to be inspired to look at change. Much pain and suffering, both in the lives of the person with the problem, and the lives of those around them, can be avoided by dealing powerfully with a drug or alcohol problem.
No one can pronounce another person as having a problem with alcohol or other drugs; it is purely a self-diagnosed issue. If you, in your heart of hearts, feel that you have a problem in this area, we want to help.
In the context of a DUI case, regardless of whether the problem is a bad luck or bad timing, or is an addicted person crying out for help, you should know that certain kinds of cases will be perceived by prosecutors and judges as being indicative of a substance abuse issue. These include:
- Multiple offense DUIs;
- DUI cases involving extremely high alcohol levels;
- DUI arrests that violate probation in another case;
- Kids being in the car at the time of a DUI;
- A history of other types of arrests too, including drug possession, drunk in public, or other intoxication related cases.
There are many treatment alternatives and sentencing choices that can arise in these circumstances. Treatment could mean something as simple as attending AA meetings (or another 12-step group, such as Narcotics Anonymous or others), all the way up to long-term, highly-structured residential treatment. Other tools that may be useful in the context of a court case include the SCRAM anklet (a device that measures alcohol consumption via skin patch testing, and will alert the system is there is any measurable amount of alcohol consumed). Time spent in a residential environment, such as rehab or sober living, can count just like time spent in jail under California Penal Code section 2900.5. This can be an excellent alternative in a case that is extremely aggravated.
Judges tend to look favorably upon people who take the initiative to get counseling or treatment when they realize they have an issue to deal with. Even for those that are NOT alcoholic, but have a case that causes others to be concerned, going to an AA meeting is not an admission of guilt; it is instead an opportunity to demonstrate to the court that the incident got your attention, that you looked carefully at the issue, and are convinced it was a one-time thing and not likely to happen again.
We often will use the services of a substance abuse expert to evaluate our clients and recommend a course of treatment in appropriate cases. This is helpful for those that do have substance abuse problems and want treatment, and also for those that are “dolphins in the tuna net” and don’t have any problem at all. Having a third-party do the evaluation adds credibility to the conclusion, and since judges and prosecutors are concerned about repeat criminal behavior, giving them a report from a credible outsider is a smart way for them to feel comfortable about the whatever course of action we are advocating for.
Putting aside all the legal maneuvering that may be possible in a case, if you or someone you care about is having a problem with alcohol or other drugs, please call us. We have lots of resources, are able to help, and want to help.