Pre-Sentencing Alcohol Evaluations in DUI/DWI Cases

Most state laws governing driving under the influence (DUI) and/or driving while intoxicated (DWI) mandate that offenders receive intervention and treatment. According to these laws, if an offender is convicted of DWI/DUI, the offender is required to obtain a clinical substance abuse assessment to determine whether he or she will be recommended to complete a substance abuse education class or treatment program.

Assessment results are used to guide decisions about how to intervene and treat the offender and how long or intense the treatment will be. The ultimate goal of extensive assessment is to match the offender to the most appropriate intervention and treatment according to his or her specific circumstances. Often, assessment is integrated into the intervention in order to guide the process and to assure that the offender’s problems are being addressed.

A presentence alcohol and drug evaluation report will include a history of the offender’s prior traffic record and alcohol or drug problems, or both, and a recommendation concerning the amenability of the offender to education or rehabilitation. The presentence alcohol and drug evaluation report also includes a recommendation concerning the alcohol and drug driving safety education and treatment for the offender. It is usually prepared by a program which has demonstrated practical experience in the diagnosis of alcohol and drug abuse. The duties of persons who prepare the presentence alcohol and drug evaluation report may also include appearing at sentencing and probation hearings in accordance with the orders of the court, monitoring the offender’s treatment program, notifying the probation department and the court of the offender failing to meet the conditions of probation or referrals to treatment. Appearances at revocation hearings may be required as well as providing assistance and data reporting and program evaluation.

After considering this assessment, a court will formulate the most appropriate sentencing plan. The sanctions ordered are based on an individualized assessment of the offender and a combination of strategies, which are imposed over a sufficient time period for a meaningful behavior change to occur.