If you are interested in the alcohol education program (AEP) as an alternative to a first time Connecticut DUI, you might have questions about the program itself. Here, I answer some of the most common questions that I get from clients.
Will what I tell my evaluator hurt me in court?
No, the evaluator is set to give an objective analysis of any problems you might have with alcohol and they do this by talking to you and grading your answers based on a scale they have been provided as well as the answers you give on a test that you may be given. If you admit to something in the evaluation that impacts the case, that will not be reported to the prosecutors. However, it is always wise to recognize that you are speaking to alcohol counselors. They likely do not recognize sarcasm or humor when it comes to using alcohol, and they err on the side of caution. So talking to them about binge drinking this past weekend is not advisable. However, since we are representing you, we are confident you aren’t doing that anymore based on our counseling, so you should have no problems in your evaluation.
What should I tell the evaluator?
Be honest. But listen to the question that is asked and answer the question that is asked only. Too many people get into evaluations like this and tend to talk on and on. All that serves to do is prolong the time you must spend in the evaluation. They have a job to do, and it includes getting answers from you so they can document that the evaluation was done. Don’t make their job difficult by joking with them when it is inappropriate or prolonging the evaluation by going on and on when a simple answer would be sufficient.
What happens at the evaluation?
At the evaluation, they ask you a series of questions about the night of the incident and also will ask you about the role of alcohol in your life. They will also ask other questions that could reveal an underlying problem with substance abuse. Honest answers are required. They may give you a written test or simply interview you. It depends on the evaluator and the program. The evaluation from start to finish should take about 45 minutes.
Are you going with me to the evaluation?
We are not. The information you disclose in your evaluation is protected by HIPPA medical privacy laws. Because of that, it is inappropriate for an attorney to be present during that interview. You will attend the evaluation on your own.
I live out-of-state: can I take classes at home?
That depends on if we can find a suitable replacement class near you. We would also have to get it approved by our state agency responsible for overseeing the programs. Some states have already been approved and we know which programs are acceptable. Sometimes we find one in your state but it is really inconvenient to get to. In some situations, we have found a weekend program alternative that allows you to complete all your requirements over a single, but strenuous weekend. One of the problems with out-of-state programs is that they often hold you to complete the requirements for a treatment program in your state, not ours. In this case, you may wind up doing more hours or more counseling or have to do follow up treatment that would not be mandated in Connecticut.
Can I take classes online?
No. We wish it were the case, but some of the components of the program require in-person group sessions, which are impossible to coordinate over the internet. Every year we suggest this as an alternative but it has not been permitted yet.
How much does this cost?
The cost of the program varies depending on a number of factors but it is certainly cheaper than going through a trial to clear your name. The application fee is $200, which covers both the background check and the initial evaluation. The program fee can be either $350 for 10 classes or $500 for 15 classes. If they want you to do more intensive treatment it is likely we can get your health insurance to cover those costs.
What if I can’t afford the classes?
It is rare that the court would enable someone to avoid paying for the classes. The court will give you time to come up with the money necessary to pay. We recommend that you find the money in your budget to accomplish paying for it. The reality is that the only other option available to the court would be to impose community service as a way to pay for the classes. Usually, the court imposes one hour for every $10 in costs, but we have seen more. Do you have time to do 55 or 75 hours of community service? I know I don’t have the ability to get that done in the next month, so it may be time to tighten the belt and find the money.
Will I have to miss work for classes?
You should not have to. The classes are held in the evening hours because they understand that people work during the day. If you work in an industry that does not keep a 9-5 schedule, like service or medical professionals, we can help you get into a class that works with your schedule.
How frequent are the classes?
The classes usually meet once a week, but some select programs meet twice a week so you can finish them faster.
Where are the classes held?
The classes are held at service providers throughout the state. In fact, the location for your evaluation will likely not be the location for your classes. This is because they usually do the evaluation at the headquarters, but they do the weeknight classes at different locations to make it easier to get to them. When you do your evaluation you can ask what locations they are currently using.
What time are the classes?
This depends on the provider and the schedule. Check with the evaluator when you do your evaluation to see what the upcoming schedule is.
Can I travel during the program period?
Yes, you can! Of course, you don’t want to travel if it conflicts with your class schedule. This is because your number one priority should be completing the classes and putting this whole thing in your rear view mirror.
What happens if I miss a class?
While we strive to impress upon you that you should never miss a class, sometimes it happens. But remember, this is not something that is optional. A judge ordered that you take these classes. You have a court order to attend. You should basically only miss if you are truly in the hospital or have had a death in the family that conflicts with the schedule of the class. This is something we cannot stress enough. While you are required to attend all classes, most providers will not expel you from the classes if you miss a single class. Any more than that and you won’t be able to fulfill the class requirements for time in counseling. So, they will be forced by your missing the second class to expel you. It’s not the class that expels you, it is your missing the class and not being able to do what the class requires, so it falls on you. Don’t miss a single class. It is not worth it.