If this is your first drunk driving offense, you may not necessarily have a problem, but its more than likely this isn’t the first time you’ve driven under the influence; it’s just the first time you actually got caught drunk driving.
Drunk driving is a dangerous thing to do. The amount of alcohol in your system that you can “get away with” while driving varies from state to state. And so does the severity of the penalties associated with drunk driving.
First of all, it’s of no use to hire an attorney and try to plead to a lesser charge: the judge must impose the penalties that are in accordance with state law. In some states, even first time offenders may be facing lengthy license suspensions and jail time.
Many states have passed Habitual Violator laws, which mandate felony penalties if you have three DUI convictions. Third time offenders lose many of their civil rights, such as voting or owning a weapon, as well as their driver’s license for a long period of time (think: years) or even permanently.
In order to get your license back, many states now require that people complete some form of DUI school and an assessment program; it has become a lot more involved than just sitting in class several hours and passing a written test.
Now the offender must first go through an assessment interview with a court-appointed counselor before it is decided what you must do in order to get back your license. Typically, you are given a set of questions that are designed to determine the extent of your “drinking problem.”
In most states, the certified counselor now has the power to decide whether you must attend Alcoholic Anonymous, a medical treatment, or a counseling program. Although you don’t have to follow the guidelines outlined by the counselor, it’s the only way you will ever get back your license.
Based on the counselor’s assessment, you can be told to attend as few as three or four A.A. meetings or, if you are a repeat offender, 90 meetings in 90 days, or a 28-day residential treatment program.
Should I Go to Rehab?
You may consider going to rehab because you want to “look good” to the judge and the courts. It is possible that if you choose to go to rehab, it can help your case. If you are willing to not only admit wrongdoing but also to admit you might have a problem and are willing to seek help for it, the judge may be more lenient.
However, if you’re asking yourself this question, you probably already have some doubts about whether or not your drinking is “normal.” You may be willing to admit that you drink more than say, your family members or friends, but you’re not sure if your drinking is out of hand – just yet.
If this is not your first offense, then it is more likely that getting another drunk driving charge is an indication of a drinking problem.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to decide whether you might have a drinking problem.
Do you drink heavily when you are disappointed, under pressure or have had an argument or fight with someone?
When drinking with other people, do you sneak a few extra drinks?
Do you feel uncomfortable if alcohol without alcohol?
Do you ever feel ashamed or guilty about your drinking?
Has anyone ever confronted you about your drinking?
Have you been having more “blackouts” recently?
Do you often want to keep on drinking even after your friends say they’ve had enough?
Do you find reasons to drink heavily?
Do you regret things you did or said while drinking?
Are you having more financial, family, work or school problems due to your drinking?
Has your health care provider ever told you that you need to cut down on your drinking?
Do you feel depressed or anxious before, during, or after episodes of heavy drinking?
Is there anyone in your family who has ever had a problem with alcohol?
If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to ask yourself “should I go to rehab?” And answer that question honestly. Having a drinking problem is of a very serious nature. And being aware that there is help; that there is a solution for it – there is treatment in the form of rehab for alcohol dependence and abuse.
If you or someone you love has been charged with a DUI and may need rehab, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.