Drinking and driving is a federal crime. It is illegal in all 50 states to drive under the influence of alcohol with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08 g/dL or higher.
Every 45 minutes in the United States, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash. The penalties for driving under the influence can include fines, the loss of your license, and even jail time. Penalties can range from misdemeanor to felony offenses.
Some states have recognized that, in order to prevent recidivism, treatment for AUD might be more productive than Jail time. If you receive a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while impaired or intoxicated), some states may offer you the opportunity to engage in court-ordered drug or alcohol rehabilitation program instead of serving jail time or other fines.
What Is Court-Ordered Treatment for DUIs/DWIs?
Court-ordered treatment for a DUI or DWI is sometimes offered as an alternative to Jail time or monetary fines. Instead of going through traditional legal proceedings, if you are eligible, you will go through a diversion program that will mandate that you complete an alcohol treatment program.
The goal of diversion programs is to reduce recidivism, enhance public safety, and ensure that the criminal justice system is fair and efficient.
Court-ordered treatment for DUIs/DWIs can vary. They also depend on the severity of the offense and your personal history.
Court-ordered treatment, also called mandated treatment, can range from a one- or two- session intervention to a comprehensive treatment program for weeks or even months. Treatment programs vary in duration, frequency, and intensity. Options can include the following:
- Alcohol misuse and alcohol use disorder treatment program through a community or private provider
- Support and 12-step group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous
- Supervised probation
- Educational programs
- Counseling and therapy sessions
- Telehealth programs
How to Find a Court-Approved DUI Treatment Program in Your State
Court-mandated and approved DUI treatment programs can vary based on your state. Depending on your state, you might be assigned a treatment program, or you might have the ability to choose. The following resources are available to find more information on court approved treatment programs and rules in your area:
The Alabama Court Referral Program provides three tiers of court-approved treatment options ranging from 12- to 24-hour educational programs to a referral to a community mental health center for inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment program. You can find a provider through the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
Alaska has therapeutic courts that help to redirect residents out of a misdemeanor or felony DUI charge into a treatment program instead of incarceration.
In Arizona, the Motor Vehicle Services (MVS) through the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) can order screening and possible follow-up treatment and education for driving offenses such as a DUI. You can check for a local authorized substance abuse counselor through the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.
If your driving privileges are suspended or revoked in Arkansas, you are required to complete an alcohol education program through a contractor with the Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services of the Department of Human Services or an alcohol treatment program that is licensed through this division.
California’s Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) provides information and resources on all accepted DUI programs.
The Colorado Department of Human Services provides information on DUI education and treatment programs that are approved and licensed by the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH).
The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) offers information and resources on the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program (PAEP) that is offered to first-time DUI offenders as a diversionary program.
In Delaware, eligible participants may enter the DUI Treatment Court Program through the Delaware courts.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ (FLHSMV) Bureau of Motorist Compliance oversees the licensed DUI programs within the state and provides resources on finding one.
The Georgia DUI Intervention Program, through the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) offers resources on finding approved clinical evaluators and treatment providers.
To qualify for the DWI Court Program in Hawaii, you will need to file a petition with the DWI court coordinator.
The State of Idaho Judiciary Branch offers resources on where to find a treatment court in Idaho that can help you get treatment for alcohol abuse instead of facing jail time.
If you are arrested for a DUI in Illinois, you will need to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation before your sentencing. For more information, contact your local Department of Human Services’ Family Community Resource Center (FCRC).
In Indiana, you can look into the court alcohol and drug program directory to find information on finding DUI diversion programs near you. 
You can use the 211 search to find diversion services and DUI offender programs in Iowa.
Check here for a list of approved agencies for DUI evaluation providers in Kansas.
DUI programs in Kentucky are licensed and certified by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services with provided resources and a directory of providers.
DUI programs in Louisiana are controlled and overseen by each individual court circuit district. For more information on a local program, check your local judicial district.
You can apply for admission into the Adult Drug Treatment Court (ADTC) in Maine with an application through the State of Maine Judicial Branch.
The Treatment and Recovery Services Unit of the Maryland Department of Health provides a complete directory for approved licensed providers of DUI programs in the state.
For information on programs and what to do after you have a DUI in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) can provide resources.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offers information on finding providers for assessments and classes.
For information on DWI courts and county specific information in Minnesota, the Minnesota Judicial Branch offers resources.
To find service providers that are certified by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health Addiction Services, you can visit the following resources.
The Substance Awareness Traffic Offender Program (SATOP) in Missouri provides information and resources for individuals charged with a DUI or DWI.
When convicted of a DUI in Montana, you will need to complete the Assessment, Course, and Treatment (ACT) Program.
The State of Nebraska Judicial Branch provides a list of registered treatment providers for substance abuse services.
The Nevada DMV provides contact information on DUI schools, which are a condition of completing DUI sentencing.
The New Hampshire Department of Safety Division of Motor Vehicles offers information on how to find alcohol education and intervention programs.
New Jersey offers the Intoxicated Drivers Program (IDP) and the DUII for those convicted of DUI with information provided by the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation offers information on impaired driving/DWI programs locally.
To complete the Impaired Driving Program in New York, you will need to use an Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS)-approved provider.
In North Carolina, if convicted of a DUI, you will need to find a DUI services provider through the NCDHHS. If convicted of a DWI, you will need a substance use assessment and complete Alcohol Drug Education Traffic School (ADETS).
To find a licensed addiction treatment program after being convicted of a DUI in North Dakota, use this directory.
In Ohio, first-time offenders convicted of driving under the influence may be eligible for the Driver Intervention Program (DIP), which is certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The 7t Judicial District DUI/Drug Court Program is a comprehensive treatment program that is court-supervised. To apply, you will need to contact the coordinator’s office. Providers must be certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS).
Anyone convicted of a DUII (driving under the influence of intoxicants) will need to complete a screening interview and a DUII services program through an approved provider. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) provides information and a directory.
The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) provides information on approved providers of DUI treatment programs.
If you are sanctioned to complete an alcohol treatment/substance abuse program in Rhode Island, a list of approved providers will be mailed to you, or you can use the link supplied by the State of Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles.
In South Carolina, if convicted of a DUI, intervention services are provided through the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP). The South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) provides listings of approved SAPs.
You will need to use an approved chemical abuse service provider when seeking DUI treatment programs in South Dakota.
The intervention program in Tennessee requires attending a licensed DUI school. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services provides information and a database to find a provider.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) provides information on where to find an approved alcohol, DWI, and drug education course.
The only approved DUI education curriculum in Utah is PRIME for Life. You can find an approved provider through the Utah Department of Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
In Vermont, once convicted of a DUI, you will need to complete the Impaired Driver Rehabilitation Program (IDRP) through an approved provider as listed by the Vermont Department of Health.
The Commission on VASAP (Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program) supplies a comprehensive directory of qualified treatment service providers for DUI programs in Virginia.
To find alcohol use treatment, use resources offered by the Washington State Health Care Authority.
The West Virginia DMV provides resources on completing their Safety and Treatment Program through an approved provider.
For information on finding an intoxicated driver program in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Health provides contact information and a directory.
The Wyoming Department of Health provides information on how to find a local Court-Supervised Treatment Program.
Is there evidence for positive outcomes in treatment programs instead of Jail time?
There is some evidence that court-mandated treatment programs can positively impact treatment outcomes. DUIs are not often the result of a single night out but are usually a repeat offense and signal a bigger issue with regular and repeated alcohol misuse.
DUI treatment programs can offer people help for alcohol misuse and dependence, whereas sending them straight to jail offers them no treatmetn for what is often a real medical condition. DUI treatment programs aim to reduce further issues with alcohol in the future, prevent recidivism and repeat offenses, and help to keep both the driver and the community safe.
What Happens After DUI/DWI Treatment?
After completing a DUI/DWI treatment program as mandated by the court, you will most likely be placed under some form of probationary period that can have specific conditions you will need to meet. This can include an in-car breathalyzer device that will require you to breathe into it to prove that you have not been drinking to start your car. You may need to continue attending therapy or support meetings. You may also need to complete community service or submit to urine drug screenings. These requirements vary largely by state and the nature of your offense.
Cost of a DUI
A DUI can cost you upward of $10,000 for your first offense in the following:
- Court fees
- Car towing and impound fees
- License fees
- Attorney fees
- Insurance increases
- Public transportation costs,
- The cost of a device like an ignition interlock in your car
- Potential community service fees
- The cost of a substance abuse treatment program or educational course as mandated by the court
Your personal costs will vary based on your location and the severity of your offense. Treatment and support programs can also vary in cost, ranging from free for 12-step programs to $30,000 for a 30-day inpatient program. Depending on the State, the cost of mandated treatment programs may or may not be covered.
DUIs & Employment/Driving Licensure
How a DUI conviction will affect your job and your license also varies state by state and by the specific offense for which you are sentenced.
A DUI conviction can show up on a background check and your driving record, which can count you out of specific types of jobs, especially those that involve driving.
A DUI can also be grounds for loss of a drivers license either temporarily or indefinitely.
In some cases, A DUI may also be expunged from your criminal record if you complete all the terms of your probation and court-ordered treatment, although it will likely remain on your driver’s license.
Is a DUI a Sign You Have a Problem?
Yes, a DUI is a concerning sign for an alcohol use disorder.
Additional signs of alcohol misuse and alcohol use disorder include the following:
- Drinking more than you meant to in a sitting or drinking for longer than intended
- Needing to drink more to feel alcohol’s effects
- Repeated attempts to stop drinking that have not worked
- Cravings for alcohol and thinking about alcohol all the time
- Physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
- Hazardous and risk-taking behaviors while drinking
- Giving up activities and hobbies for drinking
- Problems with relationships due to alcohol
- Continuing to drink even though it is having negative consequences
- Drinking despite emotional and physical problems related to alcohol
- Failure to fulfill obligations at home, work, or school due to drinking
If you have any of these signs, you may have an alcohol use disorder, and you might benefit from treatment.
Benefits of AUD Treatment
AUD treatment involves two components: Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapies. Patients may engage in one, the other, or both simultaneously. Although we know that the best results come from engaging in both.
When we talk about “MAT” for AUD, we are primarily referring to 3 FDA approved medications for alcohol use disorder:
- Disulfiram: This is a tablet taken once per day. It can cause unpleasant side effects if alcohol is consumed while taking it which deters patients from wanting to drink while on the medication. It is the oldest but probably least effective MAT for AUD because it deters people from drinking by making them feel physically sick, but does not actually reduce cravings or desire to drink.
- Acamprosate: This tablet is taken three times per day. Unlike Disulfiram, it works by reducing cravings for alcohol.
- Naltrexone: This medication is the most common and probably first line treatment for AUD these days. It is a tablet taken once a day. It also comes in a monthly injectable form called Vivitrol. Similarly to Acamprosate, it treats AUD by reducing cravings.
MAT can be offered in a variety of settings, and it is an extremely flexible treatment modality. Usually people can recieve MAT from their primary care doctor, a psychiatrist, or addiction specialist. No matter where MAT is delivered, it is most effective when also combined with behavioral health therapies and counseling. 
Behavioral therapies and support are also essential to treatment for AUD.
One of the most common forms of behavioral therapy that is highly effective when used during MAT is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT uses mindfulness to address potentially negative thought and behavior patterns. CBT can help patients identify the thoughts that are leading them to continue drinking, and then change those thought patterns in order to ultimately change their behaviors around drinking.
CBT is probably the best studied type of therapy in AUD, but may not work for everyone. Other therapies include talk therapy, group therapy, mindfulness, peer counseling, among others.
If you are interested in using MAT, behavioral therapy, or ideally both, for AUD, reach out to your doctor or care team.