St. Mary's Law Journal


In this Article, Dr. Kenneth Blum and his team present the case of a presently abstinent, thirty-five year old alcoholic (“AG”) who has several convictions for DWI. AG has undergone and continues to be engaged in out-patient substance abuse treatment. He entered treatment before adjudication and was mandated by the court to continue treatment to assist in maintaining sobriety. Treatment included the administration of the Genetic Addiction Risk Severity (“GARS”) Test.

AG was facing a probable five-year sentence for his fifth DWI conviction in Bexar County, Texas. However, because AG’s genetic risk results indicated a genetically induced dopamine dysfunction, hypodopaminergia, the presiding judge sentenced AG to 5 years’ probation and continued substance abuse treatment—an exceptionally rare legal outcome for this type of offense.

Most often, the fifth DWI arrest leads to a custodial prison sentence for the offender. We are cognizant that probands could use the relative idea of “determinism” vs. “free–will” as an excuse to use alcohol, but this is both unacceptable and unlikely. Defendants involved in a court proceeding for DWI have good reason to seek treatment for their genetically determined severe AUD.

Here, the GARS test result and the individualized long-term treatment influenced by the GARS test results was a mitigating factor in sentencing. To our knowledge, this is a noteworthy legal precedent that utilizes genetic information to advocate for rehabilitation instead of incarceration in SUD cases, especially for individuals with multiple DWI convictions. Courts fundamentally want to help people—society as a whole, victims, and accused offenders. The use of the GARS test to identify issues and plan for the rehabilitation of accused offenders gives courts a valuable tool in their adjudicatory repertoire and advances their ability to resolve cases effectively.

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St. Mary's University School of Law


Brent A. Bauer

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