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Can I Go to Rehab Instead of Jail for DUI

Can I Go to Rehab Instead of Jail for DUI?

by Isabella Coronel
Published: Updated:

Alternatives to Jail Time After a Drunk Driving Charge

You may already know that DUI is short for “driving under the influence.” You may also know, possibly from an unpleasant encounter with law enforcement, that you can get a DUI if you operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other drug. Seeking addiction treatment is an ideal alternative for DUI offenders because it can help you address the root of the problem and can help you avoid the consequences of jail time showing up on your criminal record.

As a result, many people ask, “Can I go to rehab instead of jail for DUI?” Although every case differs, court-ordered rehab is a common alternative to jail time for DUI offenders.

Rest assured you are in the right place. First, let’s discuss possible alternatives to jail time for a DUI offense. Then, we’ll review the benefits of attending drug rehab instead of jail and how Catalina Behavioral Health’s programs can help.

Keep reading to get options and a better understanding of how to avoid jail time for DUI charges now!

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Understanding DUI Charges

A DUI is a serious offense that can modify the course of your life. Thankfully, it’s possible to use this event to change your life for the better. People can get a DUI for operating nearly any vehicle while under the influence, including but not limited to cars, motorcycles, trucks, and boats. When a person gets a DUI, a law enforcement officer tests their blood alcohol level and determines whether it’s over the legal limit. This is called a sobriety test.

Multiple factors play a role in the outcome of a DUI charge. Some people experience more severe consequences than others. For example, a first-offense DUI offender will be up for less jail time than a third-offense DUI offender, and they will usually lose their license or driving privileges for a shorter period of time. Each state in the United States has its own laws and penalties, which can also make an impact.

Spending time in jail does not treat substance abuse. As a result, the criminal justice system offers alternatives such as rehab instead of jail time to reduce the likelihood of future drug offenses. For most people, working with the court system to get an alternative to jail time for a DUI charge is possible.

Alternatives to Jail Time for a DUI Offense

Addiction Treatment

You may come across multiple alternatives to jail time for a DUI offense in drug court. Not everyone knows their options, and not everyone will be presented with alternatives unless they take the steps to ask for them. If you are informed, you can advocate for yourself.

Here are some of the most common alternatives to jail time for DUI charges.

Addiction Treatment and Choosing Rehab Instead of Jail for DUI

Addiction treatment is often the best alternative to jail time following a DUI conviction for those with a substance use disorder that played a role in their offense. DUI rehab is an ideal solution because it thoroughly addresses addiction and potential co-occurring concerns, such as trauma and dual diagnosis disorders, rather than relying on punishment as a motivator to change without support.

In turn, treatment can help reduce consequences such as further marks on your driving record or permanent loss of driving privileges.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Program

The MADD Victim Impact Program helps DUI offenders recognize and internalize the effects of substance-impaired driving. In the program, survivors and others affected by substance-impaired driving crashes speak briefly about the accident where they or a loved one were injured. The goal is to share a first-person account of how the crash impacted their life without blame or judgment. 

Community Service

In some instances, community service can replace jail time for a DUI case in drug courts. Similar to how those with a prior conviction might require more jail time than first-time offenders, repeat offenders may need to complete more community service if it is an option.

DUI Classes

DUI Classes

DUI classes are exactly what one might expect. Usually, DUI classes focus on substance abuse, the legal repercussions of driving under the influence, and how to make choices that will help you avoid further consequences moving forward.

Electronic Monitoring

Electronic monitoring can be an alternative to jail time for DUI charges. It is used to ensure that you stay at home while serving your sentence. Usually, you will be able to attend outpatient services, AA meetings (or other group meetings for those in recovery), work, school, and other obligations as long as you stick to your curfew.

What are the Benefits of Treatment for Substance Abuse?

What are some benefits of going to a treatment center for substance abuse instead of a jail sentence or another alternative? One thing is for sure: the advantages of alcohol treatment span far beyond avoiding jail time.

First, we must account for the environment. Incarceration is associated with a greater risk of substance use disorders. Both sentenced jail inmates and state prisoners are more apt to engage in drug abuse when compared to the general population. Similarly, deaths among inmates related to drug use have increased throughout the years. On the other hand, a rehab center is a safe, substance-free space with a team of medical and mental health professionals present.

Treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and addiction can help those with a substance use disorder learn new coping skills, establish and maintain sobriety, repair interpersonal relationships that may have been affected by drug and alcohol abuse, and build a comprehensive support system of other sober individuals, loved ones, and professionals.

If you have a co-occurring condition, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, a personality disorder, a trauma disorder, or anxiety, treatment centers like ours that offer dual diagnosis care can help.

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The Research Behind Inpatient Treatment Outcomes

Interestingly, research on rehab and drug crimes shows that legal pressure is associated with better treatment retention. In other words, court orders make a person more likely to stay in their treatment program. Since completing a treatment program is linked to better outcomes for those with substance use disorders, this is worth stating for those facing addiction. Even if you are the loved one of someone with a choice between drug and alcohol treatment or jail time who does not currently feel motivated to get help, treatment can have a positive effect.

Our clients all get individualized treatment plans so that we can help them meet their individual needs. You will set goals with treatment staff and can adjust those goals as your progress in treatment. We have programs available for chronic relapse and dual diagnosis, as well as other considerations that could affect your treatment needs.

Options When Choosing Rehab Instead of Jail for DUI Charges

Medical detoxification

Catalina Behavioral Health offers a full continuum of care. In other words, we offer every level of care, from medical detox and residential care to outpatient services and alumni support.

Here are our programs or levels of care and what they entail. If you don’t know which one is the right fit for you, we can help you compare your options and decide.

Medical Detox

Discontinuing alcohol after drinking heavily can come with uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. In fact, over half of those who abuse alcohol experience withdrawals when they first stop drinking. Medical detoxification or “detox” programs play an important role in helping people get off of drugs and alcohol safely. Medications and other forms of care may be administered.

Since medical detox is a short-term form of care dedicated specifically to helping clients get sober, it does not address underlying emotional, psychological, social, or other factors that may play a role in addiction. Accordingly, medical detox is typically a precursor to another form of care, like a residential rehabilitation program or partial hospitalization.


A residential or inpatient rehab program is the highest standard of addiction treatment. Our residential treatment program allows you to live on-site for the duration of your treatment program. This can be beneficial for many reasons, such as increased supervision, which can help you stay sober.

During the day, you’ll engage in treatment activities such as groups, individual counseling sessions, medication management, family therapy, and recreation. Arrangements for external appointments or events (e.g., meeting with a probation officer) can be made.

Partial Hospitalization

Partial hospitalization is the second highest structured standard of addiction treatment. Partial hospitalization programs, or PHP, allow you to engage in treatment during the day but return home at night to sleep. Treatment activities will be similar to those used in a residential or inpatient rehabilitation program.

Often, PHP means that you will be at your treatment center five days per week, for 6-8 hours each day.

Intensive Outpatient Services

Intensive outpatient treatment is the next step below partial hospitalization. It requires a lower time commitment per week and offers increased flexibility. As a result, intensive outpatient programs or IOPs are often ideal for those who must fulfill responsibilities such as work, school, or caring for a family while in treatment.

They can also be used as a step-down form of care for those who completed a higher level of care and can transition back into daily life.

Alumni and Aftercare

Alumni support and aftercare planning can help you sustain recovery long-term. Our alumni program helps those who have finished one of our treatment programs stay in touch with treatment staff and get support from others in recovery.

What to Expect in Addiction Treatment

Yoga therapy

Whether you’re preparing for inpatient treatment or outpatient services, you may wonder what treatment entails. Our treatment center uses a range of evidence-based treatment modalities to address addiction and relevant co-occurring concerns.

These include but aren’t limited to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and trauma-focused therapies.

Other therapies, treatments, and recreation activities may include but aren’t limited to the following:

  • Art therapy
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Equine-assisted therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Physical exercise
  • Yoga therapy
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture

Again, you will receive an individualized treatment program that fits your unique needs. If you have any questions about what treatment will look like, please contact us for more information. 

Find Options to Avoid Jail and Get Help Now

Get Help for Alcohol at Catalina and Avoid Jail Time

When you seek addiction treatment, it can change or save your life. With a DUI, the stakes are even higher. If you’re looking for a DUI treatment program or need help with substance abuse, contact Catalina Behavioral Health today. To get in touch, give us a call today.

We are here to answer your questions, help you prepare for treatment, or verify your health insurance coverage for free, so reach out now for a confidential consultation!

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