As Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the things we often have to explain to people is why the court is so interested in their drinking habits and history. This is particularly relevant when someone facing a DUI wants to explain, up front, that he or she isn’t a big drinker. However true or not that may be, some people think that just because they say they don’t drink a lot (or very often), then that’s enough, and no further inquiry is warranted.
Michigan law, however, requires any person who is convicted of or pleads guilty to a DUI offense to undergo a mandatory alcohol use assessment (variously called a “substance abuse evaluation,” an “alcohol screening,” or simply a “screening”) before he or she is sentenced by the Judge. This is done to determine whether he or she has, or otherwise identifies as being at risk to develop an alcohol problem. This really the single most important part of the whole DUI court process, but our focus here will be on why that’s the case, rather than what to do about it, which we’ll examine in a future installment.
The primary reason underlying why the court system is so interested in a person’s alcohol use may not even be consciously understood by those work in it. Many people within the court system only know that things are done the way they are essentially because that’s the way they’ve always been done. In other words, everyone just accepts that a person going through a DUI case must be screened for a potential alcohol problem before being sentenced simply because the law requires it. Why this requirement ever came about in the first place is important, however, and really helps put things into perspective.