One of the punishments that’s available to the prosecutors and judge when somebody is prosecuted and convicted for a DUI, is they can force them to do what’s called the HAM program or the Hospital and Morgue Program where they make the person go to the hospital and morgue to see what happens to people who drink and drive.
Obviously, this is a form of scared-straight by the court system and prosecutors and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and a lot of times they’ll have you write an essay to really lock in the visualization of what the hospital and morgue looks like and what can happen when people drink and drive and go out on roads.
So, really, the Hospital and Morgue Program is a deterrent. They’re trying to show you that you can’t drink and drive, but if you do that you can kill somebody. You can kill yourself. You can kill a loved one. So, that what the Hospital and Morgue Program – at least from my view, having done this for twenty-five years – is designed to impact the defendant in a DUI case in Los Angeles.
Another problem with the Hospital and Morgue Program, it’s difficult to get into them. They’re booked up. So, you really have to get that done. A lot of people don’t like to do the Hospital and Morgue Program for obvious reasons – that they’re squeamish and don’t want to see people that have passed away and don’t really want to think about that sort of thing.
But, this again, is the court system. Society, political pressure saying listen, these people who are getting in ton vehicles and driving around too fast with alcohol in their system endangering the population. They need to get a wake-up call. They need to know that drinking and driving are dangerous.
So, what can we do to put in their mind how dangerous it is? They can make you do this Hospital and Morgue Program. They can make you do an alcohol program where they educate you. They can put you in jail; they can make you go work out on the highway in an orange jumpsuit in the heat of the San Fernando Valley. There are all sorts of things they can do to indelibly imprint on your mind what happens when you drink and drive related to a DUI in Los Angeles.
So, if you have to the Hospital and Morgue Program, get it done. It’s not difficult. More than anything, it’s just a matter of being diligent, signing up for it, completing it and who knows – maybe it will prevent you from getting a second or third DUI, where you’re looking at losing your driver’s license for a year, looking at going to jail, mandatory jail time for a second-time DUI., insurance impact – there are all sorts of bad things that can happen if you get a second-time DUI or even a third or fourth time DUI.
So, the crucial thing is, if you’ve got the Hospital and Morgue Program to do. You have to write the essay. Get it done quickly. Don’t wait until the last second, otherwise you might not be able to do it and if you don’t do it, then you violate your DUI probation and you’re potentially looking at getting some jail time for that violation, and then they’ll still make you do it.
So, doing the Hospital and Morgue Program – although not pleasant – is something that has to be done if you’re ordered to do it, and usually where I’m seeing the prosecutors and judge wanting the Hospital and Morgue Program is when they have a young driver – somebody who is 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 years old.
They want that driver to know right from the beginning, do not drink and drive. If you got caught for a DUI and nobody died, thank goodness, but we’re now telling you, you’re going to now go and see what happens when people drink and drive.
So, again, it’s a form of scaring a person into saying, oh my gosh look at this. I don’t want to have to do this again, so I’m never going to drink and drive. Different people are motivated by different things when it comes to DUI’s in Los Angeles.
They’re trying to figure out what’s going to motivate people not to become involved with drinking alcohol and driving on our streets, endangering themselves, endangering their family and endangering those members of the public who are innocent and don’t have anything to do with an individual’s choice to go out and drink alcohol and drive.