What Type of Counseling Can a Court Order?
If you are charged with or convicted of a DUI in Arizona, there are many counseling and treatment options available. Deciding on what the best option is for you and the timing can be crucial to the outcome of your case. At Phoenix DUI Law, we have gathered the greatest team of DUI lawyers in Phoenix to help you assess the options and decide what treatment option is best for you.
What is screening?
Screening is a face-to-face interview that lasts between 30 minutes and three hours. It is conducted by a state approved behavioral health professional or a behavioral health technician. A screening and assessment will most likely include questions regarding the DUI circumstance, current presenting problems, past history and current history of drug/alcohol use, strengths, family history, and a variety of questions designed to better assess possible education and/or treatment needs.
The behavioral health professional or technician will administer at least one standardized test for measuring alcohol dependency or substance abuse issues. The most common is the MAST (Michigan Alcohol Screening Test) which is used to assess alcohol use issues. The MAST is a questionnaire designed to provide a quick and effective screening for possible alcohol-related problems. The SASSI (Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Instrument) is another quick and effective self-reporting screening method designed to help assessors understand and address possible drug and/or alcohol use disorders.
What is treatment?
Under Arizona law, treatment is based upon the information and results obtained from the DUI screening agency or referring court. Treatment includes a minimum of 16 hours of DUI education, and at least 20 hours of group counseling. Treatment is provided by a state approved behavioral health professional or behavioral health technician. If the treatment program is completed, as ordered, the court can defer some of the jail. The jail time which is not served ultimately will be deleted
Treatment program services typically include:
- Comprehensive overview of cognitive behavioral treatment for impaired driving offenders
- Thorough review of theory and practice related to client evaluation
- Legal and cultural considerations
- Operational procedures for assessing and matching DUI offenders to appropriate levels of education and treatment services
What is education under Arizona law?
Education consists of at least 16 hours in a classroom setting and is provided by a state approved behavioral health professional or behavioral health technician. Most educational programs include the following components:
- Level I Education: DUI education program designed for first-time offenders
- Level II Education: DUIeducation program for impaired driving offenders who have at least minimal indicators of past problems associated with Alcohol or Drug use or misuse and whose arrest blood-alcohol-content was excessive.
How do I find a state approved provider?
Arizona provides a list of the providers which are approved on the Arizona Department of Transportation’s website. It can be accessed at http://www.azdot.gov/docs/default-source/mvd-services/screening-treatment-and-education-facilities.pdf?sfvrsn=106.
When should I do my assessment, treatment, and education?
Ideally, you should complete these programs prior to going to trial, pleading guilty, or sentencing. Being proactive will demonstrate to the judge that you do wish to change your ways, and you are unlikely to offend again. Often this will result in leniency at sentencing.
Will my participation in a self-help group or peer support program count?
Self-help groups or peer support programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, do not count as DUI treatment under the Arizona’s required hours rules. However, you may still want to consider joining one of these groups. If you are ultimately found guilty of driving under the influence, your independent rehabilitative efforts may be taken into consideration by the judge during the sentencing. If you can demonstrate a genuine participation in one of these groups, it can only help you.
How much will the screening, treatment, and education cost?
Screening, education, and treatment programs are provided by private, approved agencies. These agencies and providers set their own fees. In Arizona, these fees vary dramatically depending on the type of program upon which you decide. The least expensive program will probably cost you a minimum of $200. The fees go up from there. Arizona has some of the best private treatment programs in the United States including several residential programs that are considered some of the best in the world.
When making the decision on your program, you should consider:
- The recommendation of your attorney. An experienced attorney will know which programs the judges respect, and more importantly which programs they dislike.
- Is outpatient or inpatient a better option for you personally? If you truly have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, your interest may be better served by doing inpatient treatment where there will not be the temptation to imbibe.
- Your budget. What can you afford?
Will my health insurance cover any of the cost of my screening, treatment and education?
As the provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) are put into effect, it is more likely that your health insurance provider will have to pay a portion of your court mandated alcohol treatment. The first step you should take in finding a provider is to call your health insurance carrier to find out what they cover and what they don’t. Once you have located a program, you need to call the insurer again and make sure they cover that particular program. If you are going out-of-network, be very careful to make sure the program you wish to use is covered.