Ever thought getting off the hook for DUI charges was a walk in the park? Think again. Not all drivers are lucky to get slapped on the wrist once caught, especially in countries where impaired driving is considered an indictable offence. Often, they’re convicted and then spend time behind bars or pay hefty fines, whichever comes first. Despite this heavy-handed approach, the drug driving loop never seems to go away.
Does it mean repeat offenders don’t stand a chance to receive help? Absolutely not! Victims of substance abuse can recover with professional assistance, which is why addiction rehabs exist. Besides, rehabilitation programs may influence the outcome of a DUI charge. They could reduce the penalties or scrub them off altogether. To understand how that works, kindly read on.
What Does DUI Mean?
DUI or “Driving Under Influence” is the criminal offence of operating an automobile while physically or mentally impaired through the use of drugs, alcohol, and prescribed or OTC medications. Such conditions are a clear indication that the driver is no longer in control of the vehicle. Drugs, like cocaine, heroin, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) inhibit one’s motor and cognitive skills.
When used, such substances pose an imminent threat to the driver and other road users. Cases of motor vehicle collisions resulting in injuries or fatalities aren’t unheard of. According to data, road accidents cause 1.35 million deaths worldwide. About 25%are drug-related. Hence, it’s no surprise why DUI is a criminal offence, punishable by a substantial fine or jail term.
Is DUI the Same as DWI?
DUI and DWI could mean the same thing or slightly different, depending on the state or country. In the latter scenario, a DWI is a more serious offence. It requires more burden of proof to show conclusively that a driver was actually driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The DUI Process
It’s worth noting that DUI laws vary from state to state. It’s influenced by a series of factors, including drug tests and one’s medical condition. So, what does DUI have to do with substance abuse? Everything!
A DUI case always starts with a traffic stop. It could be anything, like speeding, weaving in and out of lanes, or driving erratically. On suspicion of drug impairment either through incoherence in speech or any other dead giveaways, the police officer administers a field sobriety test or a toxicology test, or both. The former entails performing simple tasks to assess impairment, including standing on one foot or tracing the movement of an object. The latter examines the body for traces of drugs in the blood, saliva, and urine.
If the driver fails these tests, the officer will issue a DUI citation for further investigation. The vehicle is impounded as well. The crown counsel then files the charges, which could range from Class 1 to Class 5 DUI, depending on the defendant’s situation and records.
A driver charged with DUI could face stiff penalties, depending on the circumstances of the case. Possible outcomes may include:
- Tens of thousands of dollars in fines and other expenses (high insurance and court fees)
- Revoked driver’s license
- Jail time of up to 7 years
- Loss of specific fundamental rights, such as the right to vote and bear arms
- Community service, alongside substance abuse programs
DUI convictions will appear on a driver’s record, which can make it difficult to get a job or secure a loan in the future. As such, it isn’t just the short-term penalties that count, but their far-reaching consequences as well.
How Can Drug Rehab Dismiss DUI Charges?
In the event of surviving a drug-related road accident, take a moment to be thankful for life, especially if everyone else is safe. Given the record of fatalities, being alive calls for self-reflection and amendment. That said, assess the situation. Responding officers may pin the incident on drug driving if there’s proof and act accordingly.
At this point, contact a DUI defense lawyer. This step is most crucial for drivers with related records. A DUI attorney understands the criminal justice system well enough to negotiate a lesser sentence (such as a citation) or get the case dropped entirely. Be aware, however, that the problem won’t disappear with a magic wand. That’s why rehab is an essential part of the journey.
Drug rehabilitation centres offer DUI diversion programs for first-time offenders. It’s less likely that repeat offenders or those with multiple violations get off scot-free. In fact, DUI convictions are likely to linger for life. Nevertheless, a diversion program is designed to help drug and alcohol users get back on the right track and stay clean. In return, the DUI charges are dropped.
A diversion program is government-backed. Thus, it varies from one place to another and lasts anywhere from 6 months to one year. As part of the program, the accused receives drug treatment and completes community service. Failure to do so will result in a reinstatement of the DUI charges. The same applies to being caught subsequently driving under influence.
What Happens In the Case of Ineligibility?
A driver may not be eligible for a diversion program due to a series of violations. In that case, a DUI lawyer will explain the options that follow. The driver could choose to take the case to trial and get convicted. Upon paying the fines or serving jail time, the person must undergo rehabilitation for substance abuse.
Drug and alcohol rehab programs offer a series of treatments, counselling, and therapies. The benefits of such programs help repeat offenders change their perception of substance use and triggers. Thus, they’re able to effectively manage their addictions and maintain sobriety. These treatment programmes have high success rates when conducted by experienced doctors and therapists.
DUI is punishable by law. Yet, it shouldn’t ruin anyone’s life. Those charged with this crime have the option of hiring a DUI attorney to help dismiss the case or reduce punishments. Diversion programs also improve one’s chances of getting a clean slate. In severe cases, comprehensive addiction treatment services provide lasting solutions to substance abuse. Regardless of the situation, seek professional counsel to make the right call.