Mental health services could be an effective way to reduce DWIs in Minnesota. A Harvard Medical School research of more than 100 people charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) found that, in addition to alcohol or drug addiction, over 45% of repeat offenders had a significant mental disorder. Many people suffering from mental illnesses don’t receive treatment due to limited funding and public stigma associated with these disorders. The outcome is more impaired drivers on the roads.
Treatment Not Punishment
Instead of jail time, researchers propose special courts to offer defendants incentives, such as counseling and substance abuse treatment. This strategy can potentially reduce repeat offenses among many people with mental disorders.
Common mental disorders among drivers include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression. Others are also diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and PTSD. People suffering from mental illnesses are more likely than the general population to experience alcohol dependency.
Treatments for mental health disorders include psychotherapy, which involves taking a deeper look at the patient’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Medications can reduce or eliminate symptoms of mental illnesses.
Promoting Awareness of Mental Health Disorders
While some mental disorders aren’t completely curable, they are manageable. As with many conditions, the earlier a condition becomes identified and treated, the better the odds of leading a normal life. By educating the public on early warning signs of mental health disorders and the importance of seeking treatment early, individuals can get help before it’s too late.
Minnesota DWI Laws
In Minnesota, “impaired to the slightest degree” describes a person whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or more. Drivers under the age of 21 shouldn’t have any alcohol in their system while driving. Those with a learner’s permit shouldn’t use a cellular device while behind the wheel. A DWI conviction could lead to $1,000 in fines or up to 90-days of jail time. It could also lead to driver’s license and/or professional license suspension or revocation, depending on the facts of the case.
DWI Defenses Based on a Mental Health Disorder
Mental health could be a crucial part of a defendant’s DWI defense strategy. A defense strategy sometimes focuses on reducing the penalties that a conviction could bring. A Minneapolis DWI lawyer can inform the court regarding the defendant’s mental health issues. That way, the judge knows there were contributing conditions in the case, which may result in a reduced penalty.