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About Substance Abuse Evaluations Conducted In Connection With DWI Charges And Maintenance Or Restoration Of Driving Privileges

Substance Abuse Evaluations

The clinical protocol accepted by the State of New York for DWI evaluations is known as the Standards for Clinical Services Provided to Individuals Arrested for an Impaired Driving Offense.

Elements that participants should expect include the following:

  • A comprehensive face-to-face biopsychosocial interview, which includes a screening tools approved by OASAS. The fee for the initial evaluation is $100.
  • Observed urine drug analysis by a laboratory licensed under Section 575 of the Public Health Law to analyze and report on samples. Choices Counseling Services uses Burlington Labs for this service, at a cost of $30, payable when each specimen is given.
  • The individual's Abstract of Driving Record, for which the DMV charges a fee of $10.
  • A copy of the arrest report describing the incident.
  • Contact with collateral sources, such as medical or treatment records, agencies, family members, attorneys, probation officers, or others, with the patient's signed authorization to consent to release of inforamation.

Clients are expected to remain abstinent from alcohol and all recreational drugs throughout the evaluation process, from the time the initial appointment is scheduled forward.

The client is responsible for payment of all professional fees, including costs of laboratory testing, driving abstract, and related expenses.

After completing the screening, the evaluator meets again with the driver to provide specific information and to discuss the treatment recommendation, if any is indicated. Treatment recommendations, as an outpatient or inpatient level of care, are based on your history, current status, and condition.)

It is not necessary to complete the DDP to schedule a clinical evaluation. Sometimes, an attorney will advise it prior to a conviction. Some motorists have enough self-insight, after a DWI or DWAI incident, to realize that they may need help, and they choose to call on their own.

Recovery Fellowships

While you are awaiting your initial evaluation, as well as the follow-up appointment where recommendations will be discussed, I strongly urge clients in situations like this to immediately begin (or resume) attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, of which there are many in Sullivan and surrounding counties.

Though not affiliated with any of these groups, for your convenience, a lengthy list of local peer support groups, with "Addiction" at the top of the list, are shared on this website. If you do not view yourself as an addict or alcoholic, choose an "Open Discussion" meeting for starters. If nothing else, you will find it educational.

Here are links to up-to-date databases of meetings in New York State, searchable by location:

You can count on this being one of the recommendations that I will make, so you would do well to start immediately. If you are unfamiliar with the expression, ask someone in the program to explain the slogan, "Identify, don't compare." While there, pick up a meeting list and introduce yourself as a newcomer/visitor.

The Drinking Driver Program

Individuals convicted of an alcohol or drug related driving violation have their privilege to drive revoked or suspended. Some people may become eligible for a conditional license by participating in New York State's Drinking Driver Program (DDP), a driver education class certified by the NYS Division of Motor Vehicles.

In Sullivan County, the DDP is administered by the Department of Community Services in Liberty. Contact program director Melissa Stickle at 845-292-8770, ext. 2077 or e-mail Melissa.Stickle@co.sullivan.ny.us for more information about the Sullivan County DDP.

To register for DDP classes the need to go to the local DMV, where eligibility is determined.

This program is separate from and in addition to the evaluation and treatment described in the first section above.

Not every motorist is referred for a comprehensive evaluation. If specifically court ordered, or if DDP staff believe a motorist may be in need of further substance abuse education or treatment, class members may be referred for a a clinical evaluation. In these instances, compliance with recommendations proceeding from the evaluation are also prerequisites to maintenance or restoration of driving privileges.

To satisfactorily complete the DDP, when indicated the driver must also do the following to maintain a conditional license or have full driving privileges reinstated:

  • Schedule an appointment with evaluator whose name appears on the statewide list of providers authorized by the NYS Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services. A similar list may be obtained either from the DDP instructor.
  • Keep all evaluation appointments and meet any other requirements presented by the evaluator.
  • If you are told your use of alcohol/drugs warrants treatment, follow through by keeping treatment appointments and meeting any other requirements of the treatment provider.
  • If you disagree with the result of your evaluation, you may request a second opinion through the county's DDP (see contact information above).
  • Be responsible for paying for evaluation(s), any required treatment and associated costs.

If a driver does not meet the above requirements s/he may be dropped by the Drinking Driver Program and their condition license and/or original licenses suspension/revocation will be reinstated, thereby suspending driving privileges in any state.

DS 449 Form

Once the above conditions have been met, the DWI evaluator or treatment provider completes a DMV DS-449 Form ("Alcohol and Drug Abuse Rehabilitative Program Summary") and returns it to the Drinking Driver Program.

Conditional License

A conditional license is not valid for driving a taxicab or any motor vehicle that requires a Commercial Driver License (CDL).

If you receive a conditional license, it is valid to drive only:

  • to and from work, and during work if driving is part of your job.
  • to and from a class at an accredited school or college.
  • to transport your child to and from a child care facility or school when necessary to maintain your employment.
  • to and from DDP classes and any required evaluation or treatment.
  • to and from a state or county motor vehicle office for business related to your conditional license
  • to and from court-ordered probation activities.
  • to and from medical examinations or treatment for you or a member of your family, as certified in writing by a physician.
  • during the three-hour weekly period listed on your conditional license attachment.

See the DMV website or your attorney if you have questions about the law. Information on this website does not constitute legal advice.