The philosophy of our program is that individuals having been convicted for driving under the influence can be defined as problem drinkers, alcoholics, and or substance abusers in various stages of chemical dependency approximately 80% of the time. It is our belief that these individuals can be helped to gain insight into the negative effects that alcohol and drugs have had on their lives in the past. By using a broad spectrum curriculum, including individual counseling, group therapy, alcohol and drug awareness classes and self help groups; coupled with a total abstinence concept, we have given many clients a new outlook and more productive lifestyle.
Our philosophy, as we relate to the court and the community, takes a different direction. The courts are the referring agency for our program, and they deserve the most accurate information possible regarding our clients’ compliance or non-compliance with our program. In that we are experts in the community, it is our responsibility to educate the courts regarding treatment needs and goals for the most effective way of dealing with the individual arrested for driving under the influence. In the courts where our program is utilized, we have established a policy of requiring all second and subsequent offender program participants to return to court within 30 days of the program acceptance to show the court proof of enrollment in the program. We provide each client with an acceptance letter, which notifies the court of the client’s acceptance, diagnosis, curriculum, and amount of time needed to complete the program. This procedure closes the gap between the program and the court system, and allows the court to identify those individuals who have failed to appear for program participation within the allotted time period.
With our SB38 18 month concept, we provide the court with progress letters at 6-month intervals to establish short term goals for the client and allow the program to evaluate the client’s participation and needs as the program progresses. The letter provides the court with information regarding the client’s attendance, participation, changes in behavior patterns, change in attitudes, change in lifestyle, upcoming curriculum requirements, and request for continued involvement. We will utilize the progress letter in the AB541 program as a way of notifying the court when a client is in need of a continuance, or has been unable to complete the required curriculum in the allotted time. This procedure allows the client to go to court with an official letter from the program and increases credibility to the client’s request for more time. The letter provides the court with the client’s curriculum up to their court date and explains the reason for the need for a continuance and requests an appropriate amount of time for the client’s continuance.
Our philosophy regarding the need for return to court letters has evolved over the past 43 years of working with many courts in the state of California. It is imperative that the clients’ non-compliance requirements be reported to the court having jurisdiction immediately to enable the court to dispose of the client’s case and impose sentencing expeditiously. Return to court letters are used when the client has not complied due to poor attendance, poor attitude, failure to maintain total abstinence, or the client receiving a subsequent arrest for driving under the influence. It is our policy to return clients to court within two weeks of non-compliance with program requirements. In the majority of cases, it is our policy to recommend further treatment, in-patient treatment, a detoxification program or self-help meetings for those people who are unable to comply with program attendance/abstinence requirements but are still in need of treatment. In that we are a service to the court system, and the expert in the community. Our recommendation is a benefit to the court, the community, and it increases the chances for the client’s future rehabilitation and abstinence.