If you’re facing a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) in Orange County, you’ll soon learn about the legal and financial consequences of a DUI, but you may not be aware that a DUI may be a sign of a bigger problem. Was it a one-time mistake, or is this the first time you got caught?
The state of California requires alcohol evaluation and treatment after a first DUI offense. Anyone convicted of DUI must attend either a 3, 6, or 9 month first offender program. These programs all include Alcohol Anonymous meetings and group sessions.
Which program would you have to attend? It depends on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your arrest. Basically, the higher the BAC, the longer the program.
DUI Court for Second and Subsequent Offenders
For second and subsequent DUI offenders, they often participate in the Superior Court of California’s DUI Court, which is a court-supervised program that includes:
- Therapy sessions
- Group sessions
- AA meetings
- DMV-mandated alcohol offender education program
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 1 in 10 drivers reported that they may have driven with a BAC of 0.08% (the legal limit) or higher at least once in the past year. While many drivers will never drink and drive again after a DUI, there are some who won’t change their behavior.
Multiple DUIs Can be a Red Flag
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 33% of DUI citations are for repeat offenders. While this is not proof of an alcohol addiction, it could be a red flag. Continuing to drink and drive, despite the consequences, legal and otherwise is a telltale sign of an addiction.
In a study of DUI recipients with two or more DUIs conducted at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in New Mexico, the researchers found that over half of the respondents were suffering from one or more mental illnesses, such as major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Other findings from the study revealed that 19% of the respondents said they had a lifetime of heavy drinking, and nearly half had been struggling with heavy drinking for many years.
When a DUI Arrest Leads to Recovery
If there is any silver lining to being arrested for DUI, it’s that the consequences can help some people recognize that they have a problem. That way, they can get the treatment they need.
We know that slapping a drunk driver with fines and jail time doesn’t get to the root of the problem, but treating the underlying issues can help people struggling with alcohol addiction so they don’t re-offend.