VASAP, Class 1

Well, last night I had my first VASAP class…yes, I’m finally getting started (again) with fulfilling my VASAP obligations 2.5 months after my conviction…it is what it is.

I was a little paranoid about going to the class because I drank this past Saturday.  Yes, it sounds stupid (and it was), but it happened.  I had it in my head that VASAP only does breathalyzer tests, so I made sure I was in the clear for that.  I made the mistake of reading some things before class yesterday about VASAP and other states’ ASAP programs and that only managed to freak me out.  In some places, ASAP will do a urine test.  I read a few blogs online where people had gone through this in Northern VA.  I couldn’t find any experiences from anyone in other parts of VA.  And no one was consistent regarding the type of urine test required (yes, it makes a big difference).  I started panicking.  I reread the letter from VASAP and it says that I will be subject to a breathalyzer and/or other drug testing.  It sounded like a urine test might be possible.

I should say that just like the MADD Victim Impact Panel (see my post, The MADD Victium Impact Panel Class), there was a whole lot of much ado about nothing.  The local VASAP does not do urine testing- at least in class.  I can’t say this with 100% certaintybecause I don’t know if all the instructors run their classes the same, but I’m pretty sure they don’t do this.  The building is not set up with bathrooms where they can supervise a urine test.  Over the course of my year with them, I’ll let you know if I’m ever urine tested.  I was, however, subjected to a breathalyzer.  In our class, we’ll have them every time- sometimes at the beginning and sometimes at the end of class.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I’d been downing water all day (even though, news flash, that really wouldn’t have worked, anyway). 

I was much happier in this class than with ADAPT, which is supposed to be the more intensive treatment program.  Yes, absences aren’t really tolerated and you have to get your AA slip signed by the AA host (sorry, no cheating on your AA commitment) unlike ADAPT, but it seemed to be conducted much more like what I imagined it should be.  I’m in a class with eight other people.  Unlike with ADAPT, these folks are all on their first DUI and I’m not the only female.  They’re from all walks of life.  They were all personable and didn’t come off immediately as people that flout the law- they all seemed resolved to be there and were not hostile about it.  We went around the room telling the others our first names, what we did for a living, what our BAC was and what we hoped to learn from the class.  The people actually took responsibility for their ordeals, even if they felt they were wronged by the system.  A couple folks had below-the-limit BACs, but like me, they knew they had to deal with it and were trying to find something that would help them learn from this experience and not repeat it.  One woman had tears in her eyes as she told us her story.  She was genuinely upset about what happened and taking this very seriously.  In ADAPT, no one wanted to admit they did anything wrong even after they admitted to being stone-cold drunk behind the wheel.  What a huge difference!

The instructor was a nice fellow; by day, he works as a guidance counselor at a high school.  He’s been a substance abuse counselor for about 8 years.  He went over everything we needed to know to get through the class- unlike my ADAPT counselor who left me with numerous questions each time.  He passed out all sorts of information and introduced us to workbooks…yes, workbooks.  For a second, I felt like I was back in grade school, but I was just grateful not to be subjected to another Dr. Phil show.  He made a point to tell us that we may watch a video once or twice, but he doesn’t like to rely on them.  We’d learn more from each other than anything else.  I like that.  I think in ADAPT, watching video after video leaves people bored and resentful.  VASAP classes aren’t the greatest, but it seemed much better from the get-go than ADAPT.  I’m the type that if I have to do something, I’ll try to find something to learn to keep myself in positive spirits. 

So, here’s what it boils down to:

  • 10 classes
  • $75 (VASAP’s fee is $300- I found some places online where this fee was incorrect; it has not changed in years)
  • 8 AA meetings (not 10- I seriously don’t know why there is such miscommunication about VASAP requirements even among VASAP reps in the same damned office).  You have to attend the AA meetings once per week and you have to have your signed slip at the next class or you get kicked out of class. 
  • 2 evaluations- one at 5 weeks and one at the end.  Those evaluations are conducted during class time- in other words, we’ll come in and wait our turn, talk with the instructor, and be done for that night. 
  • We have to bring in one article over the course of the 10 weeks for discussion purposes. 
  • We have to take the breathalyzer every class. 
  • We will have to write a one-page paper at the end to discuss what we learned and at least one way the class impacted our lives. 
  • We took a test last night to see how much we know about alcohol and we will have to take the test again at the end and hopefully show improvement in our scores. 
  • We have to fill out an instructor/course evaluation on the last day.

It was pretty clear-cut.  So, hopefully someone trying to search for information as I did will find this and feel better.   Of course, not all VASAPs or ASAPs are exactly the same. 

A note about urine testing:  In my panic yesterday, I learned a lot.  I’m posting this information separately in Urine Testing

Anyway, 1 class down, 9 to go.  I believe there is a faint light at the end of my tunnel.  I probably shouldn’t think that way because with my luck, something else will come up.


2 thoughts on “VASAP, Class 1

    • Yes, the website leaves something to be desired. You’d think with all the money they’re making from offenders that they could afford something better. However, it’s not in their best interest to supply additional information because the majority of interest would come from offenders. Yes, we’re their bread-and-butter, but we’re not shareholders that deserve more information. We’re the school-children that have to tolerate the attitude that we did something wrong and we’ll have to face whatever consequences they throw at us (whether it’s right or wrong, deserved or not). I don’t think that all DUI offenders deserve the book thrown at them. There seem to be no checks and balances to make sure punishment is applied fairly or accurately. My lawyer told me it’s scary that VASAP is given great discretion by the courts to apply whatever punishment/program they deem fit- through whatever means they determine this.. It seems to be something tolerated throughout the legal system, and I can’t find that anywhere else. If you’re convicted of something else, the consequences/punishments are laid-out for you and easy to find. With DUI’s, it’s not so simple. The only people that would challenge these programs are offenders, so who cares, right? They did wrong, so they shouldn’t complain, right? However, my lawyer successfully challenged VASAP’s decision as to what program I should be in…that makes me nervous. How many others went through something they didn’t deserve? Why did my lawyer have to get involved to ensure I was in the right program? Why didn’t VASAP get involved instead? Well, they make more money from me if I”m classified incorrectly, so why should they care? But should punishments be soley about money? To me, the whole thing is messed up.

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