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Is treatment better than the penalties for a DWI conviction?

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2022 | Drunk Driving

In Missouri, when a person is arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI), there will be inevitable concerns about the penalties if they are convicted. Often, a person who is charged with DWI is not experienced with the justice system and is under the impression that they should accept an alternative agreement such as enrolling in a treatment program in lieu of the consequences they might face. However, it is important to understand what those penalties are and the potential challenges of accepting the treatment program and failing in that endeavor. For some, it might be preferable to simply accept the penalties and move on. If the treatment offer is made before or during the case, there may be available avenues of defense so there will not be any penalties at all. Knowing why this might be the case is imperative.

Understanding the penalties for DWI is a priority before accepting treatment

Being arrested for DWI will potentially lead to criminal and administrative sanctions. This will depend on the number of times a person has been convicted for DWI. If it is a first offense for a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or above, the driver will have the driver’s license suspended for 90 days. Even with that, the person may be allowed to have a Restricted Driving Privilege (RDP). This might mean the person needs to install an interlock device on their vehicle to test them for alcohol use before their vehicle will start. This lasts for 90 days. Or they can have a 30-day driver’s license suspension followed by 60-day RDP. They can drive to and from school, work, treatment or the location of their ignition interlock provider. These penalties can be challenging, but they are not excessive. If there were multiple convictions, the ramifications are different. For a second conviction, the license will likely be revoked for one year. A second conviction within five years could mean the license will be suspended for five years. For three or more convictions, the license will be denied for 10 years.

Key points about testing with a treatment program

The requirements to be admitted to a treatment program can be complicated, so it is important to weigh that before moving forward. People who take part are expected to abstain from alcohol. There will be frequent tests. The tests are given in at random and unpredictable times. They are given around twice per week and no day is off limits. That means it can be on holiday, weekends or any other time. This is continuous until the final phase of treatment when the person has met all the goals. They might have a reduction in the frequency of tests after that. If the person fails a test, they could end up serving the penalties for the DWI. People should compare those penalties and the time and stress it will consume to serve and the difficult nature of the testing procedures through the program.

Assessing the situation can help with coming to a reasonable decision

Obviously, some people can benefit from receiving alcohol treatment and avoiding the punishments that go along with a DWI conviction. Still, for many the case itself could be effectively defended before accepting treatment as an alternative. If, for example, the officer who made the traffic stop and arrest violated established protocol, the case could be dismissed with no penalties and no need for treatment. If it is a first offense, the person could be better off simply accepting the penalties and moving on without taking part in the program if it is not truly needed to stop using alcohol. In these cases, it can be complicated to make an informed decision. Having assistance with looking at the case in its entirety can help.