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Should I go to AA to help my DUI case?
Should I go to AA to help my DUI case?
Clients often ask if they should go to alcoholics anonymous, or AA sessions, before their court date for their DUI, asking, “Should I go to AA to help my DUI case?”
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to that question. On this page, we will discuss how AA may, or may not, help you with your DUI case, along with the recommendations from our Orange County DUI Attorneys.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous?
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is actually named after a book. The book, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism“, is known as “The Big Book”. The book was written by William (“Bill”) Wilson, whom members of AA often refer to as “Bill W.” The group was founded in 1935.
AA uses the “Twelve Steps” — which are development steps, along with social interaction, support, and communication with other members, including “sponsors”.
AA has been wildly successful, and it’s unlikely that you haven’t heard of it somewhere. Many similar programs like Narcotics Anonymous also use the Twelve Steps as part of their programs, many of which are based upon AA’s structure.
Does AA Work? Can it help?
Many have criticized AA for not keeping, collecting, or allowing statistics on their effectiveness. Studies of people volunteering to report on effectiveness have shown that there is often no correlation between AA attendance and complete and continued sobriety, and sometimes inconsistency.
Many scientists looking at addiction issues, and the body’s mechanism of addictions, critique AA for not being as effective as other options.
Problems with AA being faith-based or requiring religion
Some have greatly criticized AA for being faith-based. For example, the second and third, fifth and sixth of the twelve steps are as follows:
“Four: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Five: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Six: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Seven: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
The fact that AA requires belief in a higher power has led some to conclude that courts have a first amendment problem in recommending it since that might violate the 1st amendment prohibition on the endorsement of an official religion. Judges get around that by requiring AA only as a bail requirement and allowing conditions of “any self-help classes”, which opens it to other options that are not strictly faith-based.
What alternatives are there to AA?
Other than AA, there are the following options (among others), that are alternatives to alcoholics anonymous:
- Life Ring (a secular group which is popular with our clients, because they have online meetings)
- Rational Recovery
- Celebrate Recovery (faith-based and usually through a member church)
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
- SMART Recovery
- Women for Sobriety
What takes place in AA meetings?
AA has two types of meetings – closed, and open. In open meetings, which are, as the name implies, open to everyone, according to one account, you can find the following:
- Initial announcements
- The reading of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions
- One alcoholic will come up to the front and share his or her story of strength, hope, and recovery.
On the other hand, closed meetings differ in, that, in addition, to the above, you will find (after the above portions of the meeting), a group reading or discussion based on one of the steps or traditions, or a topic related to recovery.
How can Alcoholics Anonymous be helpful in a DUI case?
AA can show commitment to sobriety. By being around others that are able to support and help you in the path away from alcohol, that puts you on the road to recovery, you can help assuage the fears of the court, the prosecutor, and your defense attorney that you may relapse, and face another crime.
Unlike SCRAM or other monitoring devices that are work around the clock, it does not monitor sobriety, however, or provide any alternative sentencing for jail time in a DUI case.
What is a DUI lawyer’s recommendation regarding AA meetings?
As a firm of DUI lawyers in Orange County, having handled thousands of DUI cases in over 23 years of practice, we have seen many clients helped by AA and similar programs, and others that have not. Our recommendation is to be honest with yourself, and to get into AA or a more intensive program right away, if you feel you need to, or if you feel you have a problem. Should I go to AA to help my DUI case? Only you can make that decision for yourself. But if you decide you need help, AA can be an important first step, or for many an ongoing component of other support structures to keep you clean.
Where can I find AA meetings in Orange County, California?
Orange County has its own directory of all the AA meetings in the county. You can find it at: http://www.oc-aa.org/directory/meetings.asp
How can I discuss AA and how it can help in my case?
Contact us if you have questions about an Orange County DUI case, or if you need the help of our law firm. We can help answer questions for you about whether AA can help your DUI case. We are here to help you.