DUI and ARD and The Letter of Concern — The PHMP Trap

What should a licensed professional do when charged for the first time with driving under the influence – DUI. As a first time offense in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, one is eligible for the pretrial probation, ARD program. This is a great program that, upon completion, does not result in a conviction. If the case is expunged before license renewal, the DUI does not need to be reported to a professional license board. Because of this, how to handle the DUI in conjunction with a professional license is very important.

DO NOT fall for the PHMP “Letter of Concern” trap.  Upon license renewal, advising one’s professional board of a DUI and ARD is mandatory except if completed and expunged before renewal.  The reporting typically triggers a “Letter of Concern” from the PHMP. (See my March 30, 2015 blog.) The letter of concern suggests the professional suffers from an impairment warranting an assessment and work stoppage. (OH MY GOD MY LICENSE IS BEING REVOKED IF I DON’T GO…I HAVE TO ATTEND.) Do not go to this PHMP assessment. Attending this assessment, typically results in bogus recommendations of drug and alcohol treatment and a 3-4 year monitoring program. (See March 9, 2015 blog.)

Included in the ARD process is attending a COAD drug and alcohol evaluation. This is a court mandated assessment to which the ARD applicant must comply with treatment recommendations, typically out patient, to satisfy the ARD probation.  Attending this COAD evaluation creates a huge conundrum for many professionals who have also received the Letter of Concern.

Many many professionals make the mistake of attending both the “Letter of Concern” assessment and the DUI COAD evaluation for the purposes of protecting their license.  Some counties even utilize the same COAD treatment facility as the PHMP evaluation.  This typically results in a different and more extensive DUI COAD evaluation if the facility learns that the ARD applicant is a licensed professional. Livengrin in BUCKS county does this. The questionnaire expands from 25 questions to 300. This is a trap.

Also, many professionals try to utilize the PHMP assessment and treatment regimen to satisfy the ARD probation. This is also the wrong course of action. The DUI, ARD probation program treatment requirements are independent of and significantly easier that those of the “Letter of Concern” or PHMP monitoring. My prior blogs (March 23, 2015) address the importance of NOT attending any PHMP assessment when dealing with a DUI. Go to the DUI COAD assessment only. Comply with the intensive out-patient sessions (IOP) required through the ARD probation to ensure satisfactory conclusion of the ARD program. DO NOTHING ELSE.  If the professional has already done this, is in ARD and then receives the Letter of Concern, do nothing else.  Call me.

Completing the ARD requirements is more important than attending the PHMP assessment or going to treatment for the purposes of satisfying a non-disciplinary, untrained PHMP case worker telling a professional to stop working. Do not commingle any aspects of the PHMP with simple ARD DUI treatment requirements.  When attending the ARD outpatient treatment program, do not participate extensively. Attend and secure a satisfactory completion of this ARD requirement. Remember, every thing you say can be used against the professional at a later date. A DUI is not the end of your license and should NEVER require the professional to stop working.

This strategy is consistent with my theory and practice of rejecting the voluntary PHMP. Unless and until a professional is prepared to admit that they suffer from a drug or alcohol addiction that renders them impaired and unable to practice safely, the professional should not attend any “letter of concern” assessment, sign a contract entering into the PHMP monitoring program, or even attend the PHMP evaluation.

Upon rejecting the PHMP, not going to a PHMP assessment, but satisfying the DUI ARD probation, the professional has properly positioned their case. Rejection of the PHMP will necessary compel the Commonwealth prosecutors to file for petition for a mental and physical evaluation. Having not participated in the PHMP assessment, and spoken very little at the DUI, COAD assessment, there is very little information upon which a professional licensing board can rely to suggest any impairment.

Now, I prepare the professional for the mental and physical evaluation. Working to properly handle the legal issues and professional licensing issues is where I come in. Defending the case with an attorney is easier when the professional has not improperly handled their own case.  Ill informed decision making, compelled under stressful circumstances of threats of loosing a license, has been averted. The professional has now not muddied the simple DUI COAD evaluation by overlaying the more important licensing board professional matter. Take one issue at a time. Call me to discuss.

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