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How Many DUIs are Caused by Undiagnosed Mental Health Issues?

Addiction to alcohol and other drugs obviously contributes to many arrests for DUI in Los Angeles. But could repeat DUI offenses also be an indicator that a person has a mental health disorder? The San Joaquin Superior Court’s Collaborative Courts Department will be working with Harvard Medical School to try to find out. Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS)-DUI-los-angeles reports that the court will be serving as one of six test sites for a Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) developed by Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction of Cambridge Health Alliance and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. The court’s case managers and substance abusers have already begun screening repeat DUI offenders using the system.

CARS asks repeat offenders a series of questions about signs and symptoms of mental health issues within the past year and during their lifetime. It identifies 15 specific mental health disorders for which they might be at risk, including depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. The system then generates a report to the court that suggests treatments and provides a list of referrals to providers who could offer help.

A study conducted by researchers from Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School found that 45 percent of repeat DUI offenders have a major mental health disorder in addition to alcohol or drug-related disorders. The Foundation said that DUI offenders who suffer from psychiatric disorders other than alcohol or drug use re-offend more often and more quickly than others.

San Joaquin has a system for dealing with DUI drivers that is unique among California counties. It places offenders into two groups: those who have substance abuse issues and those who do not. Those with substance abuse issues receive assistance with their problems and follow-ups by compliance officers who check that they are receiving the necessary services and following through on court orders.

California Vehicle Code 23152 makes no distinction between drivers who have mental health issues and those who do not. Anyone convicted of a DUI is subject to the same fines and penalties.

As a frequent contributor to respected media, like The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Good Morning America, Los Angeles DUI attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers understands what it takes to build successful defenses in complex DUI cases. Contact him and his team today to schedule a consultation.

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