North Carolina DWI Information

Including Clinical Substance Abuse Assessment and ADETS requirements

According to North Carolina DWI laws, if you are convicted of DWI you are required to obtain a clinical substance abuse assessment and complete an education class or substance abuse treatment. The assessment determines whether you will be recommended to complete a substance abuse education class (ADETS) or a treatment program (usually outpatient). The assessment and subsequent recommendation requirements must be completed by an agency licensed to provide those services to DWI clients before NCDMV will reinstate your driver's license at the end of your license revocation period.

Technically, you are not required to get an assessment or start recommended services until after a conviction. Nevertheless, it can be to your advantage to voluntarily initiate the process as soon as possible after an arrest. In my experience, many attorneys recommend their clients proceed with the assessment process before going to court for the following reasons.

Upon a DWI arrest, your license is revoked for thirty days. However, after ten days, you may be eligible to request limited driving privileges for the remainder of the thirty day period, IF YOU HAVE OBTAINED YOUR DWI ASSESSMENT.

Upon conviction, your license will be revoked for at least one year and you may not be granted post-trial limited driving privileges unless and/or until you have obtained the assessment .

In some cases, initiating the assessment-recommendation process before being ordered by the court to do so, can be a "mitigating" factor, and may lessen the judgment against you. At a minimum, it suggests to the court that you are dealing responsibly with the situation.

IMPORTANT NOTE: the results of a clinical assessment and recommendation cannot be used as evidence to prove guilt or innocence for the DWI charge. It is only used to provide a sentencing/intervention alternative (ADETS or treatment program) to the court if you are convicted of the charge on other grounds.

An assessment takes about 1.5 hrs. It includes completing a standardized assessment instrument, a personal history, and clinical interview. Please be prepared to provide the following documentation: your BAC level or refusal, and the DWI citation (attorneys can fax us these documents). You may also be required to provide driving records from other states if you are a relatively recent NC resident.

The NC DWI assessment fee is a set by NC law at $100 which must be paid at the time of the assessment. You are not required to complete the recommended service with the assessing agency.

Please feel free to contact us by e-mail or phone (704-868-8644) with any questions or for an appointment. If you reach voice mail, please leave a clear message and phone number and your call will be returned (discreetly - without revealing the nature of the call) as soon as possible.

You can find official information about the DWI assessment process at the North Carolina  DWI Services web site:   http://www.ncdhhs.gov/mhddsas/dwi/

The site also includes a flow chart that maps out the entire process: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/mhddsas/dwi/journey.htm