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Study: Treatment is smart penalty for those convicted of DUI

Not everyone arrested on DUI charges in the Mount Pleasant and Summerville area of South Carolina is an alcoholic. In fact, many of these people are innocent of the charges, and with an experienced defense attorney they will often win their cases. However, a recent study shows that of those convicted of DUI, about half of them do have alcohol or drug dependency problems.

A behavioral research center conducted the study, which involved interviews with 700 adults who have a DUI conviction on their records. According to the researchers, up to one-third of these adults met the medical definitions for drug or alcohol dependence, or conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

About half of those interviewed had ongoing drug or alcohol problems, while 14 percent said they had been heavy drinkers at one time but had since cut back. Twenty-one percent said they had a period of serious drinking, followed by a period of complete abstinence.

The study suggests that a DUI conviction might represent an ideal time for some to experience an intervention. The study's authors found that about half of those interviewed still need intensive treatment for a drug or alcohol problem, and putting them into treatment at the time of a conviction could prevent future problems stemming from addictions.

Here in South Carolina, DUI convictions do generally result in a mandatory alcohol addiction assessment and treatment.

Of course, as mentioned above, not everyone charged with DUI is guilty. Studies such as these may be one of the motivating factors that push authorities and prosecutors to pursue DUI charges so seriously. But, sometimes in their efforts to keep the roads safe, police make mistakes and innocent people are arrested. It is important that those who are charged with DUI seek experienced legal counsel, even when the evidence feels stacked against them.

Source: Reuters, "Drunk drivers show risky lifetime drinking habits - study," Amy Norton, June 21, 2012

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