It’s very likely that if you were arrested for DWI in New York for any of the following reasons you’ve had to take a drug or alcohol screen or evaluation:
1. Under New York State law, an alcohol or drug evaluation and screening are mandatory if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest of 0.15 or higher. Your BAC is measured with a breath test.
2. It’s helpful for a person to have a drug or alcohol evaluation provided by your attorney before you negotiate a plea on your charges. The evaluation can show one of two things: that your conduct on the night of your arrest was a one-time incident, and not a pattern of behavior related to alcohol abuse or it can show that you’ve chosen to proactively address the problem about your use of alcohol and/or drugs.
3. An alcohol evaluation or screening is part of the Department of Motor Vehicle’s (DMV’s) Drinking Driver Program (DDP). This evaluation must be complete in order to obtain conditional driving privileges. This is true regardless of your final plea, which might be DWI, ADWI, or DWAI. The program’s completion is generally predicated on you following through with the recommended treatments. The recommendations will be put forward by an Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) certified provider. They have a website to locate local providers, just type OASAS into Google or your favorite search engine.
Before you have an alcohol evaluation and screening, there are three things you must do:
ONE: Give yourself a good idea of the type of screening questions asked. This will help allay your fear. Read through the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST), which is available online. Within the DDP the alcohol screening is a form or questionnaire that is used to determine if you need further assessments or evaluation by a provider.
TWO: You must prepare to be truthful and honest with the evaluator. It’s important for wellness and long-term health that if drugs and/or alcohol are the reason for your criminal charges, then you need to address the underlying cause.
NOTE: Even if the recidivism rate for DWI is very low (approximately 3 to 4 percent), the danger to yourself and others for a second DWI while under the effect of any substance or drug can be substantial. In New York State, your second DWI arrest within a ten-year time frame is a Class E Felony and the prosecutor will seek a jail sentence ranging from 1 to 3 years.
THREE: You must be ready to follow through on any recommended treatments. If you don’t agree, you have the right to a second opinion or evaluation. This second evaluation and its results are binding. The court will want proof that you completed the treatments program that has been recommended and assessed. If you receive a conditional discharge (CD) from the Court, this will be one of the discharge’s terms. If you fail to meet the conditions of your case, the case will be re-opened and your failure will be considered a violation of a Court Order.
If your evaluation indicates that you are clean and no treatment is needed, then the final conclusion will be helpful to your lawyer. This evaluation can show the prosecutor that probation as a condition of your final sentence will not be needed. This report of No Treatment can also assist you in getting an Aggravated DWI (DWI) charge, which is when your BAC is .18 or higher, reduced to a “regular” DWI, which is a BAC over .08.