Facts About DUI Treatment for First-Time Offenders
While driving under the influence (DUI) is considered a crime, the thought of getting arrested for DUI for the first time does not faze some people. Unfortunately, many have the misconception that the law can be lenient to first-time DUI offenders.
Although categorized as a misdemeanor in many states, first-time DUI is still considered a serious offense and carries with it severe short and long-term consequences. That said, if you are arrested for a DUI, often, it is safe to assume you will be required to do more than attend an online DUI class.
The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs estimates that a first-time DUI conviction can cost around $45, 435. However, the total estimate can be higher in other states. Here’s a breakdown of the average cost:
- Court fees, attorney’s fees, and fines: $4,000
- Towing/impound fee: $685
- Education and drug treatment: $$650
- DMV reinstatement fee: $100
- Average car insurance premium increase over 13 years: $40,000
To avoid a repeat offense, first-time DUI offenders may be required to get professional treatment for substance abuse. The first step of the process will be treatment assessment. During the treatment assessment, certain key factors will be looked into, including your history of substance use, background, and the circumstances of your offense.
Assessment will determine the intensity and frequency of your alcohol and/or drug abuse. Other factors that will be considered include physical health, employment, criminal history, finances, co-existing mental health conditions, living situations, and relationship issues.
Based on the assessment, court-mandated treatment can vary in length, frequency, and levels of care. Some offenders may also be required to take a brief course of treatment that will last one or two sessions. Others may be mandated to finish multi-faceted programs that will last from a few weeks to several months. Some first-time DUI offenders may also be required to finish a long-term inpatient rehab with aftercare.
While unfortunate to note, there is a high possibility that a first DUI offense will be followed by another. A study exploring the differences between repeat and first-time DUI offenders indicated that half of the respondents were repeat offenders. A few specific characteristics were common between the two groups:
- Demographics of repeat and first-time DUI offenders are similar
- Repeat and first-time DUI offenders had the same mental health histories
- Both groups have a high rate of illicit drug and alcohol use
Considering the common characteristics, it is likely that DUI can become a repeated behavior among the members of both groups. In similar scenarios, treatment will likely focus on preventing repeat offenses.
Various levels of substance abuse treatment can include:
- Compulsory attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings
- Dual diagnosis treatment (done when mental illness and substance abuse co-exist)
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Group meetings with a therapist
- Partial hospitalization program
- Aftercare programs
- Sober living homes
- Intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment
- Individualized counseling sessions with a therapist
- Outpatient substance abuse treatment
- Inpatient residential substance abuse treatment
DUI treatment should not be viewed as a punishment. Rather, it should be seen as an opportunity to find any underlying mental health conditions or issues that might lead to more serious drug or alcohol abuse. If anything, DUI treatments are designed to heal people and create safer communities. If you have been mandated to seek treatment, or if you would like to voluntarily seek treatment to avoid a prison sentence, make sure you work with the best facility you can find so you can hasten the healing process.
About the Author
Lauren Kunis is the Content Marketing Strategist for Stonewall Institute, an outpatient alcohol and drug treatment center that focuses on holistic, individualized approach to addiction recovery. She loves reading books, travelling, and going on hiking adventures with her dog Max.