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Understanding Virginia's drug treatment courts

Driving while empaired prevents drivers from being fully alert, and puts themselves and others in danger. Though this is not usually the intent, such behavior does warrant serious penalties under the law.

However, there are options available, such as drug treatment courts, that certain drivers may be able to take advantage of. There are a few key things to understand about this court option.

What it is

Various states across the country are implementing drug treatment courts to meet the needs of people struggling with addiction. While these courts do not waive all punishment associated with DUI, they do provide offenders with programs to aid them in overcoming their addictions. This is in an effort to prevent repeat offenses and to aid rehabilitated parties in returning to society as productive citizens. 

Who qualifies

Not every person who faces DUI charges is able to choose to participate in DUI court. There are several qualifications that apply. Usually, the court approves those with a history of DUIs, showing a need for rehabilitation; however, in certain cases, it may be possible for first-time offenders to qualify. In addition, the DUI cannot be connected to a violent offense. These are the more common qualifications, but the court may enforce additional ones. Therefore, it is important that offenders become familiar with the qualifications that apply in their case.

How it works

In DUI court, the judge, prosecution and defense attorney work together with program providers to determine the best plan for defendants. These plans include:

  • Personal and group counseling
  • Court check-ins with the judge
  • Submission to random drug tests
  • Obtaining education
  • Securing and maintaining work

The length of a plan and its requirements may vary depending on the behavioral contract that the court orders. However, most begin after a pre-determined amount of jail time or probation, if applicable.

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.

criminal defense & Social security disability law

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