Best options: substance abuse eval

Updated: May 31

This is the second in a series of blogs regarding an Iowa OWI (DUI) defendant’s best options during a criminal prosecution for drunk driving. Today, we’ll focus on the substance abuse evaluation.

Potential clients and clients often ask me what firm they should patronize to obtain a substance abuse evaluation. Like the choice regarding a Datamaster DMT consent or refusal, it is profoundly personal and dependent heavily on the facts of circumstances facing the defendant.

First, while there is some overlap between the legal and clinical world, lawyers aren’t psychologists, psychiatrists, nor substance abuse counselors. I leave science to the scientist and the clinical to the clinicians. However, one thing is clear.

n a prosecution, substance abuse evaluations and treatment are court-ordered and, therefore, coercive. In other words, defendants are being forced to come to the table and to terms with a potential substance abuse disorder that results in an Iowa OWI (DUI) arrest.

There are providers who, as a matter of principle, do not believe in coercive treatment and, further, do not believe that a first-time Iowa OWI (DUI) arrest is a criterion for a DSM-V (diagnostic and statistical manual published by the American Psychiatric Association—the bible on mental and substance abuse disorders now in it’s fifth iteration) diagnosis. There are others who point derisively at providers who routinely recommend some form of intervention or treatment. In other words, at the risk of using a double-negative, providers who never met a patient who didn’t need treatment. Critics point out that, because an evaluation is a special condition of pretrial release, and because an evaluation is required before sentencing, in those cases that result in a plea agreement, the original recommendation will require the prescribed treatment. Further, critics surmise, this results in a built in captive market for treatment services and an inherent conflict of interest.

On the other side of things, proponents of treatment in nearly all cases say that no one was ever hurt by more education and treatment—but that the opposite is untrue. To those proponents of treatment, people in need of treatment are under-served by recommendations that suggest treatment is unnecessary. Therefore, they oppose providers who routinely reject coercive treatment as typically unsuccessful and therefore pointless.

To navigate this difficult process, both legal and treatment professionals are necessary. There’s no getting around the requirement that an Iowa OWI (DUI) defendant needs a substance abuse evaluation to continue their pretrial release. And like any professional in a field unfamiliar to the client, special skills and guidance are key.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for an Iowa OWI (DUI), contact us for an initial consultation today. However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending unsolicited information to an attorney over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

© 2020 by David A. Cmelik Law PLC