How Your Teen Child "In a Bad Place" Can Overturn Their DUI Charge

As a parent, finding out that your teenage child has received a charge for driving under the influence (DUI) can be heartbreaking. It's even more heartbreaking when you know your child is a good person who's simply in a bad place mentally. You know that a criminal conviction could tarnish your child's life forever, but how can you save them from this verdict? Thankfully, there are laws in place to ensure that people who need treatment rather than punishment don't face a fine or jail time. Here's how to get your teen's DUI charge dismissed on mental health grounds using a Section 32 order.

What is a Section 32 order?

Section 32 of the Mental Health Act states that magistrates can dismiss a criminal charge if the perpetrator was suffering from a mental illness at the time they committed the crime. Instead of a conviction, they will receive treatment. A Section 32 order is obtained in court using evidence from a mental health professional.

Who can get a Section 32 order?

Anyone suffering from a mental illness can attempt to obtain a Section 32 order. While you may not view your child as "ill", remember that there is more to mental illness than psychotic disorders. Depression, anxiety and ADHD are all considered mental illnesses, as are bipolar disorder, PTSD and developmental conditions. Over 1/4 of all Australians aged 18 to 24 have a mental illness and many of these problems are hard for parents to spot in their children. Even if your teen has never been diagnosed with a problem, that doesn't mean there's not one there. Indeed, the fact that they behaved out of character and committed a crime may indicate that they are suffering.

How do you get a Section 32 order?

In order for your son or daughter to get a Section 32 order, you will need a criminal law attorney. A professional can help you seek a diagnosis and present your case to the court. A psychological report will be needed to prove that your teen has a mental illness and was suffering from this illness at the time they were charged with a DUI. Whether the Section 32 is accepted is at the magistrate's discretion, which is why it's important to have professional representation from someone with a good track record.

What happens after you obtain a Section 32?

If your teen's Section 32 order is accepted, you can breathe a sigh of relief. This means your child will not be convicted. However, this isn't the end of the road. As part of the Section 32 order, your child will need to agree to treatment for their mental illness. Treatment can include medication and counselling and will aim to solve the problems they're experiencing. As a parent, you may need to support your teenager through their treatment to ensure they complete it. If they do not see their treatment plan through to the end, their Section 32 order may be revoked and they will have to return to court.