Substance Abuse Evaluations
One of the most important pieces of evidence that we will submit to the Michigan DAAD (Driver Assessement and Appeal Division) is your substance abuse evaluation. Without an complete, accurate and honest substance abuse evaluation you will not regain your driver’s license. It’s that simple.
A substance abuse evaluation consists of two pages with the following sections:
Lifetime Conviction History – This section must include all drunk or drugged driving charges, but also any other convictions for crimes involving drugs or alcohol. Your therapist must rely on you for this information, and it is important for you to be complete. If you are not sure of your history then you should ask your lawyer for assistance in investigating this with you. I’ve had clients denied their license because the substance abuse evaluation was incomplete regarding prior criminal history.
Testing Instruments – This is the section that is intended to include a list of any written psychological exams that were given to help the therapist properly diagnose your case and well as give a proper prognosis. This written test must be included with the substance abuse evaluation. The score must also be included. If the written test is not included the substance abuse evaluation may be rejected and you will lose your license restoration hearing on this basis.
Lifetime Treatment History for Alcohol and/or Drug Abuse – As with the lifetime conviction history, it is important to be complete relative to your treatment history. Your therapist will be relying on you for accuracy, and if the hearing officer finds discrepancies in the information you submit then you will not be granted a license. The substance abuse evaluation also requires that any treatment plan be attached along with any discharge report. Needless to say it is important for you to be a good record keeper.
Lifetime Support Group History – This is where you should list your attendance with any support group, including Alcoholics Anonymous. If you have sign-in sheets, then it is a good idea to include these as well.
Diagnostic Impression – According to the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual for Mental Disorders or DSM there are two different types or classifications of alcohol disorders recognized in the mental health field. The first is classified as “Alcohol Abuse” and the second “Alcohol Dependence.” This is where your therapist will indicate your diagnosis. This should also indicate why this is the diagnosis, in other words why does your therapist think one or the other, and if applicable, what is your remission status?
Client Prognosis – This is probably the most important part of the substance abuse evaluation in that it is where your therapist will indicate, if appropriate, that you are at low or minimal risk for repeat behavior and that your substance or alcohol abuse is under control and likely to remain under control. This section should also include the date of last use, and this date must be consistent with everything else you submit to the department. Date of last use of prescription medications and even non-alcohol beer should be listed here as well. Without a good prognosis you stand little chance of obtaining your license.
Continuum of Care – Whereas the Treatment History section looks backward, this section looks forward. In other words, this section answers the question: what treatment or support do you need going forward? If none is recommended, then the reasons for this should be stated.
Lifetime Relapse History – If you have maintained sobriety for a period of time, then started using again, then went back to sobriety, this must all be indicated for the hearing officer. Like everything else, this must be complete, accurate and consistent with everything else listed in the evaluation as well as your letters of support and testimony (if any).
Analysis and Other Observations/Factors – This is another very important section that is often overlooked. Factors to be included here are your current living and work situation, lifestyle, use of prescription or narcotic drugs, and whether or not these things affect the prognosis in any way. Alcoholics will often make significant lifestyle changes to support their sobriety such as changing jobs, marriage partners or place of residence. If so, then this information should be included. If you are required to take pain medication then this should be described and discussed as well.
When reviewing your case, and in particular when reviewing the substance abuse evaluation, the hearing officer will be trying to determine if everything is complete and accurate. It will be up to your lawyer to review all of your documents including the substance abuse evaluation and make this determination before they are submitted.
One thing your lawyer can’t always do however is be sure you have been honest with the person who completed your substance abuse evaluation.
If you are not honest you will not win your case and you will cause even bigger problems for yourself in the future because this will make ever obtaining a license exceedingly difficult.