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I Was Arrested for Drunk Driving, Should I go to AA?

Feb 20th, 2017 DUI Defense DUI Trials OWI I Was Arrested for Drunk Driving, Should I go to AA?

If you were arrested for drunk driving in Michigan, then going to Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, may help your case.  But that is only one reason to go AA, and probably not the best one.  You and your Michigan OWI lawyer should discuss this question in collaboration with a mental health professional.

From a purely legal standpoint, meaning from only a lawyer’s perspective, the question should be whether the judge hearing your case will treat you differently, and better, at sentencing because you’ve started attending AA on your own.  The reason a judge might be more lenient is because it helps show that you are self-motivated, acting a responsible way, and are in all other ways a candidate for rehabilitation instead of in need of more severe punishment.  Rehabilitation in this context usually means probation instead of jail time. If you decide to begin to voluntarily go to AA, or if you are ordered by the court to go to AA, then make sure you collect signatures each time you go, using an appropriate AA sign in sheet.

However, AA is only part of the rehabilitation equation, and this is where the therapist comes into the equation.  Keep in mind that a single drunk driving arrest does not, itself, prove that you are an alcoholic.  On the other hand, from multiple drunk driving arrests, a different picture may emerge.  This is because arrests resulting from the use of alcohol is one of the diagnostic criteria used by therapists to diagnose a substance use disorder.  This diagnosis is usually contained in a substance use assessment (SUA) or substance use evaluation (SUE). For more information on this, see the Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Guide to the DSM-5 for Substance Use Disorders that appeared in the November 2016 SADO Criminal Defense Newsletter.

Your lawyer may recommend that you have a SUE before you are sentenced to help them determine if AA is the right choice and/or if there are other things you can or should be doing to address any underlying substance use disorder. If the therapist does conclude that you meet all the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder, then it will be important for you to follow through on the treatment plan.  Treatment might or might not include AA, in addition to things like weekly or regular individual and/or group therapy, or depending on the severity of the alcohol issue, intensive outpatient or even in-patient treatment.

The best reason to go to AA is not because it will help your case but because it will help you better understand if you have an issue with alcohol, and if you do, to help you get a handle on that problem.  This is a personal decision that only you can make, but your therapist and your lawyer should be consulted as well.