When an officer suspects a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can pull them over on suspicion of DUI. Many times it is drugs or alcohol that is responsible for an individuals erratic or dangerous driving. However, occasionally other underlying reasons may be to blame for a driver's recklessness. When this happens, it is our hope that officers and other authorities are prepared and trained to handle whatever the cause may be. Aside from simply arresting an individual for intoxicated driving, authorities should be able to recognize the warning signs of mental illness.
Millions of people suffer from mental illness in the United States, and millions of people are arrested for repeat DUI's. Most times, repeat offenders are subject to mandatory alcohol treatment. During this treatment, it has been recognized that a significant number of repeat DUI offenders suffer from some type of mental illness. Misdiagnosis of schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health issues may be to blame for individuals repeated abuse of drugs and alcohol.
For most people living with a mental illness, their condition is controlled through the combination of prescription medication and a trusted mental health professional. However, for many of these people, a missed diagnosis or under diagnosis of a true mental health issue leads them to self-medicate with the help of drugs or alcohol. The vicious cycle of self-medication, DUI arrest, and misdiagnosis continues.
Until there is an adequate screening of mental health issues in repeat DUI offenders, many individuals may never receive the help they need. For individuals that have received a DUI and believe it may be due in part to a mental illness, speaking to an attorney may be the first step in defending yourself and demanding change in the way the system views mental health issues.