DUI OFFENDERS OFTEN HAVE AN ADDICTION
After 20 years of defending DUI cases I am convinced that many of the individuals who have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs — and especially those who have been arrested for DUI more than once — have an addiction and are in need of treatment. Statistics indicate that on average, the person who is arrested for DUI drove drunk 80 times before his or her first arrest. While it is true that some drivers are just unlucky find and themselves arrested for drunk driving after say a family gathering or other occasion where the driver uncharacteristically had a little too much to drink, most drivers who end up on the other side of my desk have a drinking or drug problem.
I don’t write this to judge or accuse; my goal here is to help. The courts and the DMV almost always order DUI classes and perhaps attendance at AA meetings but I have seen all too many multiple DUI offenders walk into my office. Clearly, the DUI classes and AA meetings don’t always work.
Despite the popular “wisdom” or what you have read, the truth is that alcohol and drug addiction is not well-understood. Quite often, a person with an addiction problem will believe he or she inherited the “addition gene” but no such gene exists. If only it were so simple!
Evidence suggests that there may be a genetic component but current research indicates that this may be true for only certain individuals with specific gene variations. At this juncture, scientist studying alcoholism theorize that genes may be responsible for approximately half the risk of alcoholism and even then, there appears to be multiple genes responsible. The genetic link appears to be a bit stronger in the case of drug addiction but it is still only believed to account for half the risk of becoming an addict.
Besides genes, scientists further theorize that environmental factors account for at least half of all addictions. What environmental factors? Well, having a parent as an addict may be one factor and that helps to explain why so many people think “it’s in my genes.” We learn many behaviors from our parents and some people unfortunately learn how to drink or take drugs. Other environmental factors such as the cultural influences, accessibility to alcohol or drugs, and even friends are cited as environmental links to substance abuse. Surely not everyone exposed to these environmental influences becomes an addict and that’s where the genes probably play a role. Nature vs. nurture? The jury is still out.
Whatever the cause, there is help for those who want it. Twelve step programs, such as Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, are often very effective but only when an individual really wants to recover from his or her addiction. That is probably why I see so many repeat DUI offenders — they attend the DUI classes and AA because they were ordered to, not because they wanted to.
If you are a substance abuser or addicted to alcohol or drugs, and you want to recover, there are many resources to help you and many are free or low-cost. A good place to start is on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website. That website provides a wealth of information about substance abuse and links to many recovery resources including treatment programs.
William Weinberg is an attorney with over 20 years defending DUI cases and he is available to speak with you about your particular matter by contacting him at his Irvine office at 949-474-8008 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.