What is the link between mental health and DUI charges?

If convicted of drunk driving, the charged individual faces potential jail time, high fines and license suspension. Penalties increase in severity with subsequent DUI charges. With such high stakes, you might assume that there are few repeat offenders. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 1/3 of people charged with DUI are repeat offenders.

People suffering from mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and bipolar disorder may self-medicate with alcohol and could be at an increased risk for multiple DUIs. They may use alcohol to temporarily escape their illness and accompanying feelings of hopelessness, anger, fear or depression. Individuals with mental health disorders have a higher rate of alcohol addiction and dependence than the general population. Treatment of the underlying disorder should be addressed and could help to curb drinking and the risk of DUI or repeat DUIs.

Addressing DUI charges

Due to the correlation between DUI offenses and mental health disorders, it can be difficult for an offender to not repeat his or her behavior because of struggling with other mental health issues. Harsh legal penalties may not seem important enough to discourage drinking and driving for a person who is struggling with other mental health issues. Many mental health experts advocate for counseling in addition to treating alcohol dependence in order to pull repeat DUI offenders out of their behavior pattern.

If you, or someone you know, is charged with DUI, do not try to address the charge alone. Speak with an attorney who can evaluate your case and protect your rights. An attorney can look for factors that may lessen penalties and assess whether it is possible to get the charges dismissed altogether.

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