Interviewer: What sort of situation would land someone in jail, with regard to a DUI?
Eric Sachs: Jail sentences depend on the jurisdiction. Nassau County tries to put people in jail for high readings. If people have had prior offenses, if they had two or more DWIs in the past, or certainly if they had at least one felony in the past ten years, then they would be running the risk of going to jail. So, again, it depends on the jurisdiction. The attorney you have representing you can be a factor. We do live in that kind of society nowadays where people still think that if you are a drunk driver, you should be treated like a criminal and if you are an alcoholic and you have a sickness, then you should be treated like a criminal as opposed to be treated like somebody who needs to be helped. Sometimes the person just made a mistake. These are situations that come into play. Depending on the circumstances of the case and the person’s background; car accidents, personal injuries, BAC results that are very high, prior DWIs – all that that can come into play regarding whether or not jail is an option for that person.
Interviewer: What are the some alternatives for jail that the attorney can help you get?
Eric Sachs: Well, one of the things we like to utilize, especially if the person is one of the candidates that can possibly be facing jail, is what is called the jail alternative. A jail alternative can be a treatment program. A lot of courts, if you have the right attorney, can successfully approach a judge and explain to them exactly the point that mentioned – that the client is not a criminal and he does not need to be in jail if you want to protect the person.
There is probation that can oversee the person. There are bracelets that can be worn that keep track and make sure that the person does not have any alcohol. There are inpatient treatment programs. There are detox programs. There are lots of alternatives to jail that will help get the person where we would like them to be, rather than in the jail setting. I look at jail as a place for people to be punished for their criminal activities and then keep them away from society. A person who drove with a certain made up number as a percentage of alcohol on the breath, a person who has a sickness, who is not a criminal, who needs their help to get off of the addictive substance or just a person who made a mistake, these people do not need jail. Really, alcohol is a drug. The person is better suited for a drug treatment program where they can be removed from and learn how to be counseled to stay away from drinking and never go back to it. I have not had a failure yet of the clients we have successfully gotten enrolled ¡n these programs and they had these treatment alternatives and gone into them. We have not had anybody who has relapsed and gone back and got arrested again for Driving While Intoxicated charge. That means that people who are not criminals, who need to have medical intervention to help them stay clean and sober, are able to do it. I do not think they are able to do that by just going into the jail waiting and coming out and still having the same problem that they went in with.
By Eric Sachs