When you are convicted of a DUI in California, the judge has the option of ordering you into a treatment program. The goal of this program is to help you overcome addiction and stay sober in the future. Not all DUI defendants have substance abuse issues, and judges don’t use this power in all cases. But if the judge orders it you must complete addiction treatment. It is a condition of your probation and you will go to jail if you don’t complete it.
Treatment programs have been an alternative to jail in California since Proposition 36 was passed in 2000. Since then, hundreds of alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs have become licensed by the state to offer this service. Most programs simply involve weekly meetings. Others involve checking into a facility. Which one the judge orders depends on the type of substance you use and how serious your substance abuse habit appears to be.
We’ll look at support group programs for alcoholics, programs for drug abuse, and rehab/sober living residences below.
Alcohol Treatment Programs in California
The first widespread, successful treatment program for alcoholics was Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA remains one of the leading programs across the world, including in California.
To complete your court ordered AA treatment, all you have to do is document that you attended the necessary number of meetings. But to truly get the benefit of the program, you will need to actively participate. Participating in AA involves the following:
- You attend meetings a minimum of once per week.
- You admit that you are addicted to alcohol.
- You speak about your addiction in the meetings and, as needed, one on one with your “sponsor.” A sponsor is a senior member of AA who you can turn to for support and guidance.
- You work your way through a twelve step program that helps you accept, address and live with your addiction.
Many people have mixed feelings about AA. On the one hand, it has a track record of successfully helping alcoholics remain sober long term. On the other, not everyone agrees with the tenets that AA follows. Two major points of contention include:
- AA requires that all participants acknowledge the existence of a higher power. This can be uncomfortable for people who are not religious.
- AA teaches that addiction can never be cured, only treated. The goal is to stay alcohol-free for life.
There are alternatives to AA. You can choose any program that is licensed by the state of California to provide alcohol treatment. You should choose the one that feels comfortable and welcoming to you.
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- SMART, an evidence-based alternative to AA
- Directory of alternative alcohol treatment programs
Drug Treatment Programs
If your DUI involved a drug, you could be ordered into a treatment program that specializes in drug addiction. These are usually separate from alcohol addiction programs, although there is some overlap. The majority of drug treatment programs do not require checking into “rehab.” They work similarly to AA programs, with regular meetings and a focus on a drug-free lifestyle.
You may wish to choose a program that focuses specifically on the drug you used. But many programs successfully treat drug users of all kinds.
- Greater Los Angeles Narcotics Anonymous, the local chapter of the most popular drug treatment program
- Directory of local Narcotics Anonymous chapters across California
- Cocaine Anonymous, with a focus on both cocaine and “crack” cocaine
Rehab and Residential Programs
Sometimes you will be ordered to (or may choose to) go to a residential program. These can include:
- Formal “rehab” (rehabilitation) programs. These programs help you come off of alcohol or drugs, detoxify, and go through the withdrawal process in a safe place.
- Sober living homes. These are residences where you live long-term in a 100% sober house or apartment building.
Of these, rehab tends to be much shorter, but usually transitions to a residential program afterward. You may spend a set number of weeks in the residence, or you may have to stay until staff decide you are ready to check out. If you leave early, it will not count as completing your probation requirement.
Sober living programs are designed for long-term living. It’s rare for a judge to order you to literally move to a residence. However, it can be a good choice because you will have the mutual support of other residents, staff and community members—plus the freedom to come and go for work and other obligations. Most residential programs will also offer group meetings and one-on-one counseling.
- Directory of addiction recovery/rehab centers in Los Angeles
- Southern California’s Sober Housing Network
Is Treatment Better than Jail?
Not all DUI sentences include alcohol/drug treatment. Treatment can be a form of leniency, as most people would prefer treatment to a jail or prison sentence. But many DUI cases include a treatment order even when the defendant doesn’t have an addiction problem. It’s important to fight your DUI from the beginning and seek an outcome you can live with—such as no jail, no treatment, or even no conviction.
We can connect you with a top Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation about your case. Don’t leave the outcome up to chance. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 896-2724 and get your free consultation today.