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Facts About DUI Treatment For First-Time Offenders

DUI is an acronym used for driving under the influence, whether that influence is alcohol or drugs. If you fail a DUI test, you may be arrested, spend a night or several hours in jail, and need to go to court to settle your charges.

Punishment for general impairment DUI can include driver’s license suspension, probation, fines, penalties, and even jail time for first-time offenders. Those charged with DUI will also have to undergo an online DUI treatment and other therapeutic interventions that focus on target substance abuse and its consequences.

The immediate consequences of getting a DUI may include:

  • Your license being suspended or revoked
  • Fines
  • Court-ordered substance abuse treatment, including proof that you are regularly attending
  • Regular participation in drug or alcohol tests
  • Jail time or probation
  • Community service
  • The offense being listed on your criminal record

However, the consequences to your personal and professional life may be far-reaching and involve:

  • Job loss
  • Family problems
  • Significantly increased insurance premiums
  • Exclusion from working in certain professions

The Estimated Cost of a DUI

The estimated cost of a DUI can vary from state to state, although a breakdown of its financial ramifications in California includes:

  • Attorney’s fees, court fees, and fines: $4,000
  • Impound/towing fee: $685
  • DUI treatment program and education: $650
  • DMV reinstatement fee: $100
  • Estimated car insurance premium increase over 13 years: $40,000

That brings the minimum estimated cost of a DUI charge up to $45,435.

First-Time DUI Offenders: How to Determine When Treatment Is Required

If you are a first-time DUI offender, the judge or court may show leniency and allow you to attend a DUI treatment program instead of facing jail time or probation. However, this may not always be the case, and such a ruling will likely depend on a few lifestyle factors.

Assessment Factors

Whether or not you fit the criteria for a DUI treatment program depends on a few factors, including:

  • Your living situation
  • Whether or not you’re employed
  • Your criminal history
  • Co-occurring mental disorders
  • Finances
  • Physical healthYour history of substance abuse

These factors will help determine if you are eligible for DUI treatment and help identify the program that will best suit and benefit you.


Mandated treatment for DUI offenders can vary according to the factors considered during their assessment. Some programs may only require one or two intervention sessions, while others may require a long-term stay at an inpatient rehab.

The most commonly recommended treatment programs include:

  • Attending any alcohol or drug abuse treatment center in your local community
  • Participating in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings
  • Education programs
  • Supervised probation
  • Presentations by survivors of alcohol- or drug-related car crashes
  • Inpatient or residential substance abuse treatment programs

First DUI Offense: Are You Prone to Repeating the Offense?

Suppose your initial assessment finds that your living situation and habits make you prone to repeating the offense. In that case, you may not be offered a DUI program, or you may be ordered to attend a residential rehabilitation program for a specified amount of time.

Unfortunately, for the majority of DUI offenders, their first is not their last.

Treatment for DUI Offenders

Treatment for DUI offenders can vary greatly depending on the program they enter or the rehab they attend.

Typical aspects of DUI treatment include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment, especially in the case of drugs leading to the DUI
  • Dual diagnosis treatment or additional treatment for a co-occurring mental disorder
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Substance abuse education
  • Mandatory attendance to Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Outpatient treatment programs
  • Partial hospitalization programs
  • Aftercare treatment
  • Sober living arrangements

These evidence-based treatment options form part of many rehab programs and are the most effective at promoting sobriety and long-term recovery.

DUI Treatment: Punishment or Solution?

Driving under the influence doesn’t only put yourself at risk; it risks the lives of everyone on the road with you, whether pedestrians or other drivers.

It’s no surprise, then, that many people believe DUI treatment isn’t a solution but an easy escape for someone who will likely not think twice to get behind the wheel when intoxicated again.

However, several studies have shown, at least in the case of alcohol, that DUI treatment programs effectively prevent future offenses.

Although it may seem like an easy out for people who behave recklessly and drive under the influence, DUI programs can help prevent many people from entering the prison system and likely forming even more detrimental habits or worsening their substance abuse while they are there.

Unfortunately, license suspensions, DUI online classes, fines, imprisonment, and ignition locks won’t deter some people from getting behind the wheel while under the influence. That said, some believe adding treatment as a consequence can be an excellent long-term solution.

It may not be a perfect solution, but compared to the alternative of filling up courts with minor offense cases and sending people to jail without a thought of the consequences on their mental health and substance use disorder, DUI treatment programs seem to be a valid solution when punishing non-violent offenses.

Final Thoughts

Contrary to popular belief, DUI treatment doesn’t simply give an individual a get-out-of-jail-free card. These programs help keep non-violent offenders out of the prison system while offering them a real chance at recovery and sobriety.

Accessing treatment not only for your substance abuse but for the mental illness or co-occurring disorders that contributed to it can help you find the help you need to prevent future offenses and reduce the overall cases of DUIs, even if only modestly.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, contact our hotline at (888) 418-4188 to get the treatment and help you need.


About the Author  

Lauren Kunis is the Content Marketing Strategist for Stonewall Institute, an outpatient alcohol and drug treatment center that focuses on holistic, individualized approach to addiction recovery. She loves reading books, travelling, and going on hiking adventures with her dog Max.

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