Should DUI’s be Criminalized and Should Drunk Drivers be Offered Addiction Treatment?

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia. Facing a DUI or DWI conviction doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an alcoholic, but if you have an alcohol problem, you may be more likely to face DUI charges. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, approximately one-third of individuals who are arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders. Not all drunk drivers get arrested. The FBI reports that of the 300,000 people who engaged in drunk driving only 3,200 were actually arrested. Individuals who drink and drive more often will be more likely to get caught. And individuals who suffer from an alcohol problem may be more likely to drink heavily.

Alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, can be hard to diagnose before the problem gets out of hand. Usually, by the time individuals are diagnosed, they face DUI charges or other serious problems. According to Mayo Clinic, unhealthy alcohol use is often defined by the affect that alcohol has on a person’s life. If a person has trouble controlling his or her drinking, or if use affects relationships, jobs, or leads to problems in daily life, individuals may qualify as suffering from alcohol use disorder.

What are some signs of alcohol use disorder? Here are a few:

  • Trouble limiting drinks or difficulty cutting back on drinking
  • Feeling a craving for alcohol
  • Failing to follow through on work, job, or school commitments due to drinking
  • Giving up social life or hobbies in order to drink
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking
  • Facing life problems due to drinking, including DUI charges or convictions

Alcoholism is a disease. It is not the result of a person’s lack of willpower. In most cases, individuals require medical intervention. When a person is actively drinking. she may not be able to make sound decisions and this can include making poor decisions regarding drinking and driving. Sadly, many individuals suffering from alcoholism face jail time rather than treatment. According to Jonathan Y. Short, P.C., an Alexandria, Virginia DUI lawyer, DUI consequences may temporarily result in driver’s license suspension. However, alcohol education classes and license suspension alone may not be enough to help individuals stop drinking. Proper treatment may include proper support systems, counseling, and medical treatment. However, cities and municipalities may find it cheaper or easier to convict and penalize rather than treat alcoholism.

Unfortunately, criminalizing drug or alcohol use fails to address the heart of the problem, which may be why individuals who have been convicted once may be more likely to become repeat offenders. Cities and municipalities need to consider the root of the problem.

If you are facing DUI charges, you may need help. People drink and drive for many reasons. Jonathan Y. Short, P.C. is a dui defense lawyer in Alexandria, Virginia who may be able to help you. Our firm fights to help individuals get the help they need. In some cases, courts may accept treatment over criminalizing a DUI or DWI offense. A diligent DUI lawyer may be able to assist you in getting DUI charges reduced or dropped.