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Chemical Dependency Evaluations & Additional Requirements for Washington State DUI Arrests

Chemical Dependency Evaluations & Additional Requirements for Washington State DUI Arrests

Posted by Robert J. Ault on Nov 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

While all DUI cases are different, there are some tasks all drivers arrested for DUI in Washington State will most likely need to complete in order to eventually resolve their cases.  Among those is obtaining a Chemical Dependency Evaluation & complying with its recommendation, along attending a DUI Victim's Panel.  Though the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) refers only to Alcohol Assessments for those convicted of DUI, it is a near certainty that any amendment down from a DUI charge in Washington State will also require such. These statutory requirements exists in both the  RCW and Washington Administrative Code (WAC).

Specifically, RCW 46.61.506 states:

(1) A person subject to alcohol assessment and treatment under RCW 46.61.5055 shall be required by the court to complete a course in an alcohol information school approved by the department of social and health services or to complete more intensive treatment in a program approved by the department of social and health services, as determined by the court. The court shall notify the department of licensing whenever it orders a person to complete a course or treatment program under this section.

(2) A diagnostic evaluation and treatment recommendation shall be prepared under the direction of the court by an alcoholism agency approved by the department of social and health services or a qualified probation department approved by the department of social and health services. A copy of the report shall be forwarded to the court and the department of licensing. Based on the diagnostic evaluation, the court shall determine whether the person shall be required to complete a course in an alcohol information school approved by the department of social and health services or more intensive treatment in a program approved by the department of social and health services…

Further, WAC 388-877B-0550 states:

Driving under the influence (DUI) assessment services are diagnostic services requested by a court to determine an individual's involvement with alcohol and other drugs and to recommend a course of action.

(1) A behavioral health agency certified for chemical dependency assessment only services may choose to provide optional program-specific DUI assessment services. Optional DUI assessment services require additional program-specific certification by the department's division of behavioral health and recovery.

(2) An agency providing DUI assessment services, as defined in chapter 46.61 RCW, must ensure: (a) The assessment is conducted in person; (b) The individual has a summary included in the assessment that evaluates the individual's: (i) Blood or breath alcohol level and other drug levels, or documentation of the individual's refusal at the time of the arrest, if available; and (ii) Self-reported driving record and the abstract of the individual's legal driving record.

(3) When the assessment findings do not result in a substance use disorder diagnosis, the assessment must also include: (a) A copy of the police report; (b) A copy of the court originated criminal case history; (c) The results of a urinalysis or drug testing obtained at the time of the assessment; and (d) A referral to alcohol and drug information school.

(4) If the information in subsection (3)(a) through (d) of this section is required and not readily available, the record must contain documentation of attempts to obtain the information.

(5) Upon completion of the DUI assessment, the individual must be: (a) Informed of the results of the assessment; and (b) Referred to the appropriate level of care according to patient placement criteria (PPC).

The attorneys at Veitch Ault & Associates regularly encourage their clients to obtain an Alcohol Evaluation & comply with its recommendation, along with attending a DUI Victim's Panel, very early on in the process.  Such tasks are going to need to be completed eventually, so why not take care of them early on?  I often tell clients that both the prosecutor & court will be immediately aware that their case is important to the defendant as soon as they learn we are representing them.  However, obtaining an evaluation, complying with such, and attending a DUI Victim's Panel early in the process separates them from the rest of the people facing a charge who won't do anything until a judge makes them.  As for where to obtain an evaluation, etc…, I provide my clients with a list of evaluators whom I refer to.  While there are hundreds of Washington State Certified Chemical Dependency Evaluators in the State, my list of evaluators isn't extensive, as I will only use evaluators that I am familiar and comfortable with.   In a perfect world, Dependency Evaluators would be trusted to honestly evaluate every person that walked into their office.  However, herein lies the problem:  most evaluators ultimately make additional money when they recommend that DUI arrestees participate in longer-term treatment programs.  While evaluators generally charge anywhere between $100-$200 per evaluation, the cost of actual treatment  is well in excess of such.  Thus, there is clearly an incentive for manipulation on the part of the evaluator.  It is for this reason that my list of evaluators is limited.  While Alcohol/Drug Dependency is, without question, a very real & terrifying disease for which treatment is imperative, I have no yearning for my clients to spend their time & hard-earned money on unwarranted & unnecessary treatment merely because an Alcohol/Drug Evaluation Agency wants to keep its doors open.  In fact, I would go so far as to state that attorneys have a duty to prevent their clients from participating in unwarranted/unnecessary treatment.  Simply put, if my clients are given evaluations that are not fair, I will recommend my client obtain an evaluation elsewhere.  Furthermore, I believe that the evaluators that I refer to are well that they won't continue to receive my business unless my clients are treated fairly.  One of my evaluators, in fact, does not even offer treatment.  While coordinating subsequent classes or treatment with clients who have seen this evaluator may take more of my time to facilitate, I never have to worry about this evaluator recommending unnecessary treatment in order to pay bills.  The minimum finding that  a Washington State Certified Dependency Evaluator can make is that a subject has “No Significant Problem with Alcohol or Drugs.”  Such an evaluation requires that the person  attend an 8-hour Alcohol Drug Information School (ADIS) class.  Whereas, the maximum recommendation that can be made is that the subject complete a 2 year intensive treatment program, which includes mandatory Self-Help Meetings for the duration of the program.  As mentioned above, attendance at a DUI Victim's Panel will also be required of 99% of the people arrested for DUI in Washington State.  A DUI Victim's Panel is a 1 ½  to 2-hour class where one listens to victims of DUI talk about their experience.  For example, attendees may listen to a person who has been injured by a drunk driver, or the speaker may be a mother who lost their child as a result of the actions of a drunk driver.  I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this class, as I personally believe that attendance at one of these classes should be a pre-requisite to obtaining a Washington State Driver's License.   In my experience, the DUI Victims' Panels that are the most impactful are the ones where the speaker merely tells their story.  In the alternative, the classes where the speakers judge the attendees bring nothing but resentment, & their message falls on deaf ears  The attorneys at Veitch Ault & Associates will only send their clients to agencies that give fair evaluations, provide effective treatment, and use speakers that effectively convey their message.  While Alcohol & Drug Dependency ruins people's lives each and every day, and it's imperative that those suffering from such immediately get the help they need, the attorneys at Veitch Ault & Associates won't let their clients spend their hard-earned money & time unless such is necessary & in their best interests.

If you or anyone else you know has been arrested for DUI, please contact Veitch Ault & Associates immediately (425-452-1600) for a free consultation.

About the Author

Robert J. Ault

Rob's status as one of the premier DUI defense lawyers in the state includes being repeatedly recognized as a Super Lawyer Rising Star.


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