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How to Prepare for a Substance Abuse Evaluation


In order to have your driving privileges restored, it’s critical that properly prepared evidence is submitted to the hearing officers. A substance abuse evaluation (SAE) is mandatory, therefore it’s obvious that the hearing officers rely heavily on the information it contains. This evaluation is the pivotal piece of information that everything else revolves around.

Your letters of support, attorney’s examination questions and very own testimony are all based on the information contained in the evaluation. Making sure that a qualified substance abuse counselor properly completes the evaluation is your key to success.

Facing a substance abuse evaluation? Need help getting your driver’s license restored? Request a free consultation now.

Substance Abuse Evaluation

P.L.A.N. Accordingly for your Substance Abuse Evaluation

The substance abuse evaluation is probably the single most important piece of evidence you’re required to submit. Turning in a poorly done evaluation can lose your case for you before you even step foot into the hearing room. The key to receiving a proper evaluation is to make sure you spend enough time with your evaluator, so that he or she will get a clear picture of who you were in the past and who you are today.

Simply reiterating a list of conviction dates and your treatment history, while necessary and important, is never enough. You need to P.L.A.N:

  • P: Prior Orders
  • L: Logs
  • A: Abstinence History
  • N: Note from Doctor

Prior Orders

If you’ve ever been to a hearing in the past, you’ll want to give your order whether it’s granting or denying your appeal to your evaluator. Often times, the order will indicate several issues of concern that the hearing officer wants discussed and then addressed in the evaluation.

Ignition Interlock Logs

Ignition interlock logs should also be given to your evaluator. If there are any violations or even alcohol readings that didn’t cause a violation, your evaluator should address it.

It’s especially important if your interlock logs contain alcohol readings. You should explain each incident to your evaluator. Be specific.

  1. Where were you when the violation occurred?
  2. What were you doing?
  3. Do you have any evidence to support your story?

Simply discussing it with your evaluator and having that notated on the evaluation is a step in the right direction. It shows the hearing officers that you are 100% forthcoming and this is what you want. It builds not only your credibility, but the credibility of the evaluator when giving you a diagnosis.

Facing a substance abuse evaluation? Need help getting your driver’s license restored? Request a free consultation now.

Abstinence History

It’s incredibly important that your evaluator understands your abstinence history. Notating any relapses and discussing why “this” time will be different is something the hearing officers are always looking for.

If you testify to a period of abstinence that isn’t on your SAE, it will make the hearing officers skeptical that your substance abuse problem is likely to remain under control.

Note From Your Doctor

If you’re taking any sort of medication you will need a note from your doctor. Typically, the note is put on an approved form from the Secretary of State (SOS) called a physician statement of examination. If you’re submitting a note from your doctor, it’s important that your substance use evaluator review it and discuss it in his evaluation.

The hearing officer will want to know that your excellent prognosis is really excellent and if you don’t mention that you’re taking medication or being treated by a doctor to your evaluator how could he or she really know how you are doing?

The Takeaway About Substance Abuse Evaluations

Getting all of this information into your evaluation doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a qualified substance abuse counselor and some guidance from your attorney, you can make sure that all of these issues are easily covered. If you P.L.A.N accordingly, you should be on the road to success.

Facing a substance abuse evaluation? Need help getting your driver’s license restored? Request a free consultation now.

Barton Morris
Barton Morris has been providing high-quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years.
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