DWI Assessments and Treatment

June 21, 2024


Some people think that alcoholism and drug addiction are not diseases but choices of behavior. However, medical evidence has established that alcoholism and drug addiction are physiologically identifiable conditions that require intensive treatment. If a DWI offender is found to have an alcohol dependency or drug dependency problem, they may be ordered by a court to undergo treatment in an outpatient program or rehabilitation center.

Most treatment for DWI offenders with alcohol or drug abuse problems starts with detox – this means that the addictive substance is removed from the offender’s body. During this phase of treatment, medical doctors stabilize a DWI offender and get all traces of alcohol or addictive drugs out of their system. In the rehabilitation phase of treatment, which follows detoxification, DWI offenders learn skills for stopping alcohol and drug use and work on gaining motivation to overcome their addiction. DWI offenders may also undergo counseling to find the cause of their alcoholism or drug addiction and also learn about lifestyle changes that can help them overcome their addiction. In the medication phase of treatment, DWI offenders may be given medications to ease the process of detoxification and treat conditions such as opiate addiction.

DWI Assessments

If a person is convicted of DWI or DWAI Drugs for the first time in New York, they are required to attend the Drinking Driver Program. The Drinking Driver Program is an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program for individuals convicted of DWI and related offenses in New York. The program provides education to DWI offenders about driver safety and the ways alcohol impairs driving performance. Upon conviction of DWI in New York, an offender’s driver’s license is suspended or revoked. While an offender is a participant in the Drinking Driver program, they are eligible to apply for a conditional license according to Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1196(7)(a).

If a person is convicted of DWI in New York, they may be required to receive a mandatory DWI assessment/evaluation for court-ordered alcohol or drug treatment separate from that of the Drinking Driver Program. DWI assessments determine the nature and extent of a DWI offender’s alcohol or drug problems. The court involved in a DWI case may order an offender to have an alcohol and substance abuse evaluation pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law § 216.05(1), to determine whether they have a history of and/or current dependence on alcohol or a controlled substance.

DWI Assessments are conducted by certified members of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). This organization monitors and certifies the substance abuse evaluators and treatment programs in New York State.

The manual that is used to make a diagnosis of drug or alcohol addiction for DWI offenders is called the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM). Social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health workers who have addiction-focused practices now use a broad net in placing people into categories of being chronic abusers of drugs or alcohol. There used to be a very clear dichotomy between the terms abuse and dependency. Previously, if a DWI offender abused a drug or alcohol, they were usually designated as having no need for treatment or rehabilitation. However, if a DWI offender received a diagnosis of dependency on alcohol and/or drugs, this mandated a formal treatment program.

Currently, drug and alcohol treatment experts diagnose DWI offenders with problems in this area as “unhealthy users,” or people who clearly have a substance abuse disorder, marijuana use disorder, or alcohol use disorder. Consequently, a DWI offender’s problems with alcohol and/or drugs are generally diagnosed according to the DSM based on degree. Essentially, the DSM takes into consideration that a DWI offender who is using alcohol or drugs in an unhealthy way might potentially have a long-term problem, even if they have had only one DWI conviction. If it is found that an offender has multiple DWI convictions over many years, this would probably qualify them as needing to be enrolled in a substance abuse program.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) considers two DWI incidents within a ten-year timeframe to be considered evidence of a history of alcohol or drug abuse, and a driver with such a record would be required to have an evaluation and enroll in an OASAS certified substance abuse program to regain their license. This definition is codified in New York Comp. Codes Rules and Regulations 15 § 136.1(b)(3). In order to get the their New York driver’s license back, a repeat DWI offender who has a driving record with a history of drug and alcohol abuse must file DMV form DS-449, and submit evidence of either treatment (following an OASAS evaluation and follow-up recommendations) or produce a clean bill of health (i.e., after a drug / alcohol evaluation) showing no further treatment is necessary. Form DS-449 is called “Alcohol and Drug Abuse Rehabilitation.”

When a DWI offender goes to get a DWI assessment, they usually need to take several documents with them. These documents are: (1) A copy of their DWI case history, (2) a copy of their police report and (3) a copy of any court orders, citations or a breathalyzer report. DWI offenders, as part of their assessment, may also be required to undergo a urine drug screening which is performed by a qualified laboratory licensed pursuant to Public Health Law § 575.

The attorneys at the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are experienced in handling DWI cases. If you need a lawyer who can help you obtain the best possible outcome in your DWI case, call the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys.

For more information on getting the treatment you need, click here.

The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 432 N. Franklin Street, Suite 80, Syracuse, NY 13204; Telephone No.: 1-866-792-7800. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.

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