About Court-Ordered Substance Abuse Assessment

Judges often order a substance abuse assessment in cases involving drugs or alcohol use. Here are a few examples of circumstances or convictions where a judge might require a substance abuse assessment and evaluation:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI) / Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Drug or alcohol possession
  • Drug trafficking or unlawful distribution
  • Manufacturing or distributing controlled substances
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Public intoxication
  • Using a false ID

There are certain documents that need to be presented for the assessment, which can be furnished by the defendant or the lawyer in charge of the case. These documents may include a copy of the result of NEEDS Assessment, the certificate of completion when the defendant participated in a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RRP), a report from the Department of Driver Services or Department of Motor Vehicles detailing driving history (generally going back 7 years), a copy of any criminal history or arrests, and a copy of the arrest report.

The assessment usually involves a 1 to 2 hours interview with a licensed professional who is trained in substance abuse treatment. During this assessment, an in-depth evaluation of the individual’s substance abuse history is conducted and a review of the provided documents is performed.

This evaluation is used to determine if an ongoing condition such as a substance use disorder or addiction is present, or there is any evidence supporting the individual’s struggles with drugs or alcohol, or if the circumstances that resulted in the arrest were a one-time event of substance misuse. Even in the latter circumstance, a person may still have to attend various programs or undergo treatment deemed acceptable by the court.

Depending on the incident, sentencing guidelines, and the recommendations of the licensed professional individuals who performed the evaluation, the defendant may be required to attend one or more of the following programs. In some cases, judges may order the individuals involved in court-ordered substance abuse cases to attend one or more of the following programs even prior to having the evaluation:

  • DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RRP)
  • Random drug and/or alcohol urinalysis
  • 12 step meetings
  • Drug or alcohol abuse education classes
  • Drug or alcohol abuse counseling sessions
  • Drug or alcohol abuse treatment program: either inpatient or outpatient

It is important to start the process, including the court-ordered substance abuse assessment as soon as possible, as it not only shows the judge that the defendant is serious to take responsibility for his or her actions but also allows the individual to receive the help needed to get well.

Do you or a loved one need a supportive and effective recovery program in Florida? Contact Florida Center for Recovery at (800) 851-3291. All calls are private and confidential.