DUI Evaluation & Risk Education Programs
When you are caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Illinois, and you get caught, you're required to move through an evaluation. You'll meet with a licensed, qualified counselor who will determine what happened at the time, as well as your risk of doing the same thing in the future.
At the end of the evaluation, the counselor will tell the court the results. That will determine what sort of penalty the state can impose.
Be aware that the consequences can be severe. Sometimes, they can change your life permanently.
You can’t opt out of this program. But you can learn a lot from it.
And if you have a problem with drinking or drugs, you can get help now, before your habits put you in trouble with the law.
Why Does Illinois Have This Law?
About 11 percent of Americans admit to driving under the influence of alcohol at least once, experts say.
Every time you make that decision, you put your health and the health of others at risk. That’s true whether you believe you’re impaired or not.
Alcohol is a drug that can alter:
- Reaction times.
- Decision-making abilities,
- Stimulus sensitivity.
At the same time, alcohol boosts production of brain chemicals that make us feel safe, secure, and in control. Take in too much, and it’s almost impossible to feel like driving is a bad idea.
Legislators hope that strict laws change your mind.
DUI laws like the one in Illinois come with stiff consequences for each decision to slide behind the wheel while drunk. And in Illinois, legislators tacked on penalties that they hope will encourage people to change their ways after a relatively minor first offense.
How the Program Works
When you’re arrested for DUI, you’re ordered to move through an evaluation and education program. It must be completed before you can be sentenced, and you may not be able to drive at all until you finish the work.
The Illinois Department of Human Services says counselors evaluate the following things as part of the program:
- Your driving history: Is this your first offense? Or have you been arrested for DUI in the past?
- Your lab test results: How high was your blood alcohol level when you were arrested?
- Your field test results: Did you slur your words or lose your balance while being tested by police officers?
- Your interview: The counselor will ask about your relationship with drugs and alcohol.
Your counselor will have copies of your arrest record, lab tests, and objective tests. Lying won’t help you, as your counselor can check your answers.
At the end of this process, your counselor can place you into one of four categories:
- Minimal risk: It’s not likely you’ll drive like this again. But you’ll be asked to complete at least 10 hours of risk-education coursework.
- Moderate risk: You might make this mistake again. You’ll need at least 10 hours of risk-education coursework and 12 hours of counseling. You’ll need to do that work within about four weeks.
- Significant risk: Without additional help, you’re likely to drive under the influence again. You’ll need at least 10 hours of risk-education coursework, and you’ll need at least 20 hours of substance abuse treatment.
- High risk: You’ll need help to avoid another DUI conviction. You’ll need at least 75 hours of substance abuse treatment.
You have the right to pull out of the process, and you can ask for another opinion if you disagree with the first test results.
Does the Law Work?
Illinois enacted its first DUI laws in 1997. Since that time, the number of people who have died due to drunk drivers has dropped dramatically.
The Herald News reports that deaths from drunk driving in Illinois dropped by 43 percent between 1997 and 2015. This seems to suggest that people do respond to the penalties involved with the law, and the streets are a lot safer as a result.
But you don’t need to wait to get arrested to get the help you need. You can, and you should, reach out for help if you find it’s too tempting to drive home after an evening of cocktails.
Treatment teams can help you dig into the cause of your drinking or substance abuse. And together, you can come up with strategies to make the drinking stop for good.
Don’t wait for the law to prompt a change. Be that change for yourself and your family.