Advantages of Substance Abuse Treatment to the Drunk Driving Accused

by baronedefensefirm on May 22, 2009

The following article published in the April 2009 DWI Journal: Law & Science.  This is only the first few paragraphs.  The article was written by Patrick T. Barone.  To obtain the entire article, you must subscribe to the Journal.

It is lawful to drink and drive, but unlawful to drink to the point of impairment or intoxication.  This is an interesting dichotomy.  We are all charged to know the law, and it is often said that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  How then can typical, responsible drivers know when their behavior has moved from the lawful to the unlawful?  The short answer is that they can’t and they don’t. 

Drunk driving is one of the few crimes that a person can commit while specifically intending not to violate the law.  But drivers that unintentionally commit the crime are only one of several different offender categories.  Some drivers simply have very little control over their decision making.  This second offender category include drivers with alcohol or substance abuse problems.

One might expect that different offender types would be treated differently by the criminal justice system, but too often they are not.  Judges often pride themselves on how fair they are, i.e., treating everyone the same.  This is true despite their constitutional obligation to “individualize” the offender’s sentence.  Because of this, you must work hard to make sure the court sees that your client is different, such as by making sure your client becomes receives substance abuse treatment.

But it is also important not to make the same mistake that a judge may make.  Unlike the judge, perhaps we all know that simply being charged with a single instance of drunk driving does not necessarily mean that your client is an alcoholic.  On the other hand, it may be true that the person with “only one” arrest is an alcoholic.   Consequently, this question is worth exploring, even for the first-time offender.


This post was written by...

– who has written 203 posts on Michigan DUI and License Restoration Lawyers.

Patrick T. Barone is the author on two books on DUI defense including the well respected two volume treatise Defending Drinking Drivers (James Publishing), and The DUI Book – A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding DUI Litigation in America. He is also the author of a monthly DUI defense column for the Criminal Defense Newsletter, published by Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office. Mr. Barone is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he teaches Drunk Driving Law and Practice. He is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorney’s of Michigan’s Trial Lawyer’s College where he provides trial skills training to Michigan’s criminal defense practitioners. Mr. Barone lectures nationally on various DUI defense topics, and he has appeared in newspapers, on television and on radio as a drunk driving defense expert. Mr. Barone has been certified as an instructor and practitioner of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has also attended a 24-hour certification course at National Patent Analytical Corporation (the manufacturer of the DataMaster) and has thereby been deemed competent by the manufacturer to operate, perform essential diagnostic verifications and calibration checks on the DataMaster. Mr. Barone is a Sustaining Member of College for DUI Defense. Mr. Barone is the principal and founding member of The Barone Defense Firm, whose practice is limited exclusively to defending drinking drivers. The Firm is headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan.

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