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State toughens up DUI law

POSTED: August 9, 2008 5:00 a.m.

ATLANTA —— Effective July 1, the Multiple Offender Program of the Addictive Disease Section of the Department of Human Resources has been renamed the DUI Intervention Program.

This change reflects HB 336 recently signed into law by Gov. Sonny Perdue. Under the new DUI law, all DUI offenders are required to have a clinical evaluation and, if recommended, complete treatment. Previously, only multiple offenders had to have clinical evaluations.

"We see this as an opportunity to do earlier intervention with Georgia drivers who have significant alcohol problems," said Gwen Skinner, director for the Georgia Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases. "As with all chronic diseases, the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better."
There are more than 200,000 DUI arrests in Georgia each year. Research has estimated that the average driver arrested for a DUI has driven drunk between 400 and 700 times before. Additionally, 50 percent of first-time DUI offenders have alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. Therefore, doing clinical evaluations after a first DUI will detect alcohol abuse and dependence for thousands of Georgians years earlier.                
DHR is charged with establishing the registry of qualified clinical evaluators and treatment providers. Clinicians must be professionally licensed or certified by approved licensing bodies that have education standards, nationally standardized testing, oral case presentations, years of work experience, and annual continuing education.

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