Explaining the Illinois DUI evaluation process

by Sami Azhari on January 22, 2012

DUI Evaluation

Driving under the influence is the only offense in Illinois that requires the offender to undergo an evaluation before sentencing. The evaluation is mandated by statute.

There is one exception to this rule, and it shows how seriously the law treats a DUI. The only other case in which the defendant is required to have an evaluation prior to sentencing is a felony sex offense. In cases of criminal sexual assault, for instance, the defendant must submit to a sex offender evaluation before the court can consider sentencing him to probation as opposed to prison. See 730 ILCS 5/5-3-1.

The purpose of the DUI evaluation is to determine whether the defendant has a substance abuse problem. While most arrests involve alcohol, the evaluation concerns the person’s alcohol as well as drug use, and not just illegal drugs. The evaluation assesses the defendant’s abuse of illicit drugs (e.g., cocaine, marijuana) and also prescription medication. Such medications are not illegal provided they are approved by a physician’s prescription. Commonly abused prescription medications include opioids such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), barbiturates such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), stimulants like methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta), and amphetamines (Adderall).

The evaluation is required by law and there are no exceptions. A defendant cannot appear in court on the first date, plead guilty and expect the case to be over with. The law requires that the judge must consider the evaluation before imposing a sentence. And if the person wants supervision, which is advisable over a conviction every time, he cannot get it without having the evaluation first.

The statute that requires the evaluation is in the Illinois Vehicle Code at 625 ILCS 5/11-501.01(a). It reads as follows:

After a finding of guilt and prior to any final sentencing or an order for supervision, for an offense based upon an arrest for a violation of Section 11-501 or a similar provision of a local ordinance, individuals shall be required to undergo a professional evaluation to determine if an alcohol, drug, or intoxicating compound abuse problem exists and the extent of the problem, and undergo the imposition of treatment as appropriate.

Note that the statute requires not only an evaluation, but also any treatment recommended by the evaluation. The treatment is often referred to as ‘DUI classes.’

During the evaluation, an examiner interviews the defendant about his alcohol and drug use in the past and present. The evaluator also reviews several documents such as the Notice of Summary Suspension/Revocation, traffic tickets, results of chemical testing (e.g., breathalyzer slip or laboratory results concerning a blood draw or urinalysis), and finally, the person’s driving record.

The evaluator will ask questions about the pending case, as well. The defendant does not have to answer questions about the pending case, as he has the 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. That being said, however, refusing to answer questions about the pending case will cause the evaluator to term the evaluation incomplete. This issue should be reviewed with an attorney before the interview.

After reviewing all of the above, the evaluator will classify the defendant into one of three groups, which are meant to represent the risk that the person could re-offend:

  • Level I (Minimal Risk)
  • Level II (Moderate Risk or Significant Risk)
  • Level III (High Risk Non-Dependent or Dependent)

The evaluation is standardized statewide. Each provider has to be certified by the Illinois Department of Human ServicesDepartment of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.  The evaluation is standardized in the respect that person accused of DUI will have the same questions asked and get classified in the same way, whether they are downstate or in Chicago. The evaluation is called an Alcohol and Drug Uniform Report. It is made part of the court file, but placed under seal so that only judges, prosecutors, and attorneys can see it. The rest of the court file, however, remains public record.

The evaluation will recommend completion of a number of hours of treatment based on the person’s classification. The treatment required by each group is as follows:

  • Minimal Risk: 10 hours of DUI Risk Education.
  • Moderate Risk: 10 hours DUI Risk Education followed by 12 hours of early intervention. The early intervention is provided over a minimum of four weeks. There can be only one day of classes each week and no more than three hours in that day. Additionally, if recommended by the evaluation, the defendant will be required to participate in an on-going continuing care plan.
  • Significant Risk: 10 hours DUI Risk Education followed by 20 hours of substance abuse treatment. Anyone classified as Level II Significant must participate in a continuing care plan.
  • High Risk: 75 hours of substance abuse treatment and after completion, participation in a continuing care plan. This applies to defendants categorized as Level III Non-Dependent. Those people who are categorized as Level III Dependent must admit themselves to an in-patient facility.

Although the evaluation sets the number of hours, the judge has discretion as to the treatment plan recommended. In all cases, the defendant must complete the treatment recommended by the Alcohol and Drug Uniform Report. An alternative will not satisfy the requirement of the statute that persons “undergo the imposition of treatment as appropriate.” See 11-501.01(a).

In Cook County and the collar counties, each courthouse has its own rules about the evaluation. In Cook County, all evaluations are conducted by Alcohol and Drug Evaluation Services (ADES), which is operated by Central States Institute on Addiction (CSI). DuPage County requires all evaluations to go through the Adult Probation Department. In Lake County, all defendants must undergo an evaluation at Northern Illinois Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (NICASA). In Will County and Kane County, defendants can choose which provider they want to use. The defendant has to pay for the evaluation, which can range form $150-$250.

The evaluation should never be undertaken without thorough advice from a lawyer, because if the evaluation goes poorly, the consequences can be long lasting.

The evaluation specifically indicates whether the defendant was ‘honest, consistent and non-evasive.’ A judge may read the evaluation and become offended that the defendant was less than forthcoming about his substance abuse. That judge could deny a first offender his supervision, and instead impose a conviction. That would result in a revoked driver’s license.

Anyone whose driving privileges are revoked by the Secretary of State must undergo a formal hearing to be reinstated. The formal hearing is an adversarial process in the Department of Administrative Hearings wherein a prosecutor represents the Secretary of State and seeks to deny reinstatement. The DUI evaluation plays a pivotal role in the formal hearing and could cause denial of reinstatement.

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