Should I Go to Drug Court as Part of My DWI Charges?

This question comes up a lot in DWI cases.  It also comes up in a variety of forms and situations.  The short answer is “Yes, you should go to Drug Court but only if you are ordered.”

First, and foremost, as suggested the answer presumes that you have been ordered to Drug Court.  If this is the case, then you likely have no other options other than jail time.   If you have not been ordered to Drug Court, then you should not volunteer to go to Drug Court.

We will first address an order to Drug Court.  Then we can address why you would not volunteer for Drug Court in the absence of a court order.

Order to Drug Court

The necessity of Drug Court usually comes up in cases of repeat DWI offenders.  It can also come up in aggravated DWI cases where the breath alcohol score is very high indicating a serious problem with both drinking and driving while drinking.  It might also come up in a situation of aggravated DWI which is charged due to an accident. There may be other aggravating factors where the judge and/or prosecutor insist on Drug Court as part of a sentence or plea.

Drug Court as a Condition of a Plea Agreement

This brings us to the next issue.  Drug Court may be a condition of any plea offered by the prosecutor.  The prosecutor does not have to agree to a plea where the conditions that he or she wants are not agreed upon by the defendant.   If you cannot agree to the terms of a plea then you are going to trial.

Approval of Plea by the Judge

Even if a plea is agreed upon, the judge does not have to approve it.  The judge can add Drug Court as a condition to the plea or as part of any sentence arising out of the plea.  If the judge, refuses your plea, then you may have the right to withdraw it. However, this should be contemplated in advance so that the right to withdraw the plea is preserved.

Volunteering for Drug Court in the Absence of Necessity

This brings us to the second issue which is voluntarily agreeing to the Drug Court in the absence of necessity by plea or Court Order.  Drug Court is a pretty challenging program.  There is intense supervision and counseling requirements. There are regular court appearances.  There are regular and random urine tests.

Because of the very stringent requirements of Drug Court, in the absence of a serious commitment to successfully complete Drug Court, there is a significant chance of failure.    If you fail out of Drug Court, then you are going to jail. There is no way around it.

In short, where there is no other option, then Drug Court is a very good alternative to jail.  In fact, it may be the only alternative.  However, if you are not ordered, then volunteering for Drug Court for whatever reason is not a good idea because you may be setting yourself up for failure despite your best intentions.  If you feel the need for the kinds of support that Drug Court offers, there are many other possibilities for counseling, rehab, detox, AA and other such support in the community.

All these issues should be addressed with your attorney as your case proceeds. Fortunately, you do not have to make this decision immediately.  There will be plenty of time as your case winds through the process.  However, when the time comes, there is no substitute for the guidance of an experienced DWI attorney with knowledge of Drug Court.


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