Ask an Expert: Should a Non-Alcoholic Play Along With Court-Mandated Treatment?

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Ask an Expert: Should a Non-Alcoholic Play Along With Court-Mandated Treatment?

By Carolyn Bloom Hakes BS 01/16/17

A DUI doesn’t necessarily mean you have a drinking issue. But it does mean you had a judgment issue when you decided to get behind the wheel.

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Ask an Expert: Should a Non-Alcoholic Play Along With Court-Mandated Treatment?
You don't have to pretend.

Q: I was recently arrested for drunk driving, and sentenced to a mandatory program of brief treatment for alcohol. But, despite the judge's position, I am not an alcoholic. I drink only very occasionally, and that is partly why I got behind the wheel drunk—I'm not used to being on guard. Since I have to attend this program, should I pretend to be an alcoholic so they don't think I'm in denial?

Carolyn Bloom Hakes, BS, CADC: I can’t speak for the laws on DUI in each state, but I can tell you from what I know in my state of practice, Illinois. Unless your DUI gets reduced (with the help of a lawyer) to a Reckless Driving, most every DUI offender is mandated to complete some level of education or treatment program. These mandates can range from 10 hours of DUI Risk Education all the way up to a 75-hour program of counseling for someone who is assessed at a higher risk classification. There are several factors that go into assessing someone’s risk after they receive a DUI. This includes, among other things, your BAC at the time of arrest, your DUI history, as well as your drinking and drug use history.

Having said all that, just because you get a DUI doesn’t necessarily mean you have a drinking issue. What it most certainly means is that you have or had a judgment issue when you decided to operate a motor vehicle after having consumed alcohol or other drugs. DUIs are a very serious matter. The most important thing you can do is complete the mandated requirements, be honest with yourself about your drinking habits, and never marry drinking and driving again. Those two things need a permanent divorce. By no means should you “pretend” to be an alcoholic. A judge or a hearing officer has seen and heard everything, and they most certainly can detect when someone is minimizing their usage or trying to game the system. The best thing you can do is be honest with them, learn from this experience and change your ways.

Carolyn Bloom Hakes, BS, CADC, works in DUI counseling and greatly misses the challenges and rewards of traditional treatment. Full Bio.

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