When you receive a DUI, you usually face charges in a criminal court. However, in some cases, you may be able to go to a DUI or DWI court instead. You may benefit from a DUI/DWI court as they often allow you to avoid or reduce criminal charges, and receive the chance to enter into addiction treatment if you struggle with a substance use disorder.
Let us define DUI and DWI court for you, as well as help you understand the process of entering one, from qualifications to responsibilities.
What is DUI court like?
DUI court is like a regular courtroom in some ways, except in addition to a judge, probation officer and defense attorney, you have treatment providers and counselors working together to create an effective treatment plan.
Ultimately, DUI courts are more intentional in helping individuals recover from and address the problems leading up to the DUI, rather than just handing out punishment. Through this method, they hope to prevent further DUIs from occurring by addressing the root cause (i.e. substance use disorder), rather than punishing the result of this disorder (driving under the influence).
Usually, DUI court treatment plans have four phases to be completed. Throughout these phases, you will be monitored with routine drug tests, since abstinence from alcohol and other drugs is required. You will also need to attend individual and group therapy, as well as make court appearances.
It’s important for you to take both the DUI court and assigned treatment plan seriously. The court will keep a close eye on how you’re progressing, from keeping track of your court appearances to making sure you’re attending all the required counseling sessions.
Throughout it all, it’s best to be completely honest about how you are getting along in the program. If you’re having problems, speak on them. Be prepared to let the court know how you plan on addressing those issues or if you need help doing so. Your treatment providers will help you work through any obstacles you are facing on the road to recovery.
Who’s eligible for DUI court?
Eligibility for DUI court, whether on a felony or misdemeanor level, varies by jurisdiction. In order to be eligible, you will more than likely have to plead guilty to your DUI. In some cases, you will be required to attend DUI/DWI court as a condition for probation; in other cases, you can voluntarily enter this program to get charges reduced or dropped entirely.
You may not qualify for DUI court if you only have a single DUI on your record. Additional qualifications include being mentally capable, open to the idea and residing in a specific jurisdiction. Sex offenders, violent offenders and juvenile offenders usually are not eligible for DUI court. Some courts will also refuse applicants who struggle with a mental illness.
Things to consider
For all its benefits, participating in DUI court is a massive responsibility. Should you succeed in court, your original charges can either be dropped or reduced. Should you fail, that failure can be used against you by the prosecution. You should also think about the fact that a judge’s reputation may be on the line by him or her allowing you to participate in DUI court. Your failure could reflect poorly not only on you, but the judge as well.
The greatest benefit to a DUI court is the chance to receive needed treatment for a substance use disorder, especially if you’ve been unable to enter into rehab prior to this. Oftentimes, you will even be given assistance in finding employment if you lost your job. If you’ve been hesitant to seek help for an addiction, the incentive of dropped charges can motivate you to enter a rehab program.
Rehab After Work has an addictions awareness and DUI program that can help you fulfill treatment requirements, but you don’t have to wait until a judge orders you to get treatment to begin taking care of your mental health. If you are concerned about a DUI conviction or evolving drinking habits, we encourage you to get in touch with us.