DWI Punishment in Texas-The Substance Abuse Evaluation

By Bo Kalabus
bo@kalabuslaw.com
Office: 972-562-7549
www.rosenthalwadas.com
24-Hour Jail Release 214-402-4364

If you have just been convicted of a DWI, either through a loss at trial or a negotiated plea agreement–and receive probation, that probation will have various conditions. The mandatory conditions for DWI in Texas include the following: 1) Victim Impact Panel (VIP), DWI education class, perhaps have a Deep Lung Device (DLD) installed on your vehicle, and take a Substance Abuse Evaluation (SAE) and complete any conditions that may evolve from the evaluation. The various conditions that can be placed on a person following a SAE can be as minor as “no consumption of alcohol on probation” or a medium level variety such as attending several AA meetings a week, or as severe as going to an intensive inpatient treatment program that the probationer has to pay for out of his own pocket.

I like the idea of the SAE and the point of making it a mandatory condition of probation is obvious. However, the execution of the program is the issue. The SAE has a serious drawback-the probationer is usually given a short one page Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI). It is described by its creator as “A one-page paper and pencil test that identifies people who suffer from substance dependence.” It seems impossible to me that a one page standardized test can be a substance abuse fix it all for all people. And as you can probably imagine by now, this test requires no training to be administered…

If it scares you that a one-page test could have such dramatic swing in the conditions of your probation, it should. And it should be near the top of your list of reasons of why you should call a cab the next time you are out on the town.

 

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