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Name: In re L.W.
Case #: B290992
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 02/07/2019
Summary

Where mother’s substance abuse was combined with instances of reckless conduct such as driving under the influence, there was sufficient evidence to support a jurisdiction order. Mother sought help from a physician to help her stop using cocaine. The physician referred the family to DCFS. The social worker visited the home and created a safety plan for mother. Under the plan, mother agreed to refrain from using cocaine, and would allow an aunt to assist her in supervising the 13-year-old minor. The minor said she never saw mother use drugs. Subsequently, mother refused to test, and DCFS became aware of a fairly recent arrest for driving under the influence. Mother also said she was unable to enroll in a drug program because of her medical needs. DCFS filed a petition, alleging that mother was a current abuser of cocaine and frequent user of alcohol with prescription medication. The court found the petition true, and allowed the minor to remain in the home on the condition that mother comply with the case plan. On appeal, mother challenged the jurisdictional finding that her substance abuse caused or would cause a substantial risk of harm to the minor. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed the jurisdictional order. There was no evidence of past harm to the minor. The minor never saw any drugs at home, never saw mother abuse drugs, and felt safe living with her. All witnesses agreed that mother was a good parent. However, this was not a case involving substance abuse without more. Mother was arrested twice for driving under the influence, and convicted of reckless driving. These incidents provide a nexus between the substance abuse and a substantial risk of future harm to the minor. Further, the court could not say that the juvenile acted arbitrarily in authorizing formal supervision of the family. Mother’s substance abuse had gone from using prescription drugs to abusing a mixture of alcohol, prescription drugs, and cocaine. By the time of the jurisdiction hearing, she was not yet in treatment.