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The Course of an MPU

Preliminary Remarks

So you have chosen a MPU institute. On the "explanation form" which you have received from your driver's license office, you have further marked that you want the expertise to be sent to you personally. For you are the customer, and there is no reason why you have to give away that legal advantage of being able to decide yourself if you later want to present the expertise to the driver's license office or not. Finally, you have accepted the date proposed by the MPU institute of your choice, or you have fixed an own appointment, and now you are ready to face the test. What are you in for and how concretely does the MPU proceed? I would like to give you an answer now to these questions and thus, I would like to show you that you there is no need to be afraid of the MPU, if you are well prepared.

1. Reception: Particulars and Eye Test

The examination starts with the reception on the spot. It is usually taken care of by an assistant or a secretary. You step into room of the institute, you show the invitation letter and your passport, and after having taken the particulars, you will have to take an eye test. You have to look into the kind of apparatus which you already know from the optician or eye specialist. It will be found out if there is visual acuity in both of your eyes, how your stereoscopic vision is developed and if you are color-blind.

Do not let this first routine unease you. You have certainly furnished the necessary documents when applying for the driver's license, and in the case of critical results you can always hand in a medical certificate later, maybe even getting a prescription for glasses which meet the minimal demands on a safe driving.

2. Fitness Test, Post-Test and Possibility of a Driving Test

It may well be that you spend some time in the waiting room before you are asked to go to the testing device; maybe there is an empty instantly and you can begin. Many clients are afraid of this fitness test. They are nervous and pass that nervousness on to the test result. I can calm you down. There is absolutely no need to be worried by the fitness test, for it is not decisive as we will soon see. Younger clients normally have no problem to perform well if they only pay attention to correctly operate the testing device. And even older persons often pass straightaway since they get a certain bonus of points due to their experience.

Should you have problems with the series of test, the psychologist who evaluates the results will retest you: you will get another sequence of tests and often better results will follow since you know the apparatus by now and you have adapted to the room. But even if you repeatedly fail to produce adequate results nothing is yet lost. For an insufficient fitness test will never by itself render an examination negative if the other findings are favorable.

There is always the possibility to show with the help of a concrete driving test that the reduction in performance has no direct influence on you driving ability. In this case, you would later be asked to drive a short distance with a driving instructor and an examiner. If this probe is convincing – what mostly will be the case taken your experience – the results of the fitness test will be declared irrelevant. The expertise will then state that the reduction of performance can be compensated in the concrete driving setting by experience and circumspection. You may thus calmly approach the testing device knowing that if worst comes to worst your driving experience can always help you out, that is even when the fitness test itself turns out negative you can still obtain a positive expertise.

3. The Waiting Room – Questionnaire

An examination requires you to have a high amount of patience. For you would certainly be examined right away to keep the tenseness at a minimum. Unfortunately, no institute can optimally suit you here, because neither the physician nor the psychologist can plan the duration of an MPU. To avoid slack clients are often summoned in a rather tight schedule. Expect the examination to last for several hours and psychologically get ready for that. Take along something to read or have your iPod with you to listen to music you like. Everything counts which helps you to stay calm.

Not to leave you totally alone in the waiting room, the assistant will hand you a questionnaire. Maybe you have already been mailed another one before the MPU. Grant each institute its own way. Fill out the form as correctly as possible and give the paper back to the assistant. If you are well prepared by your traffic psychologist, these questions will not cause you any difficulties. Should you not be able to answer a question, don't be concerned. The expert will mostly rely on what you tell him in the exploration, and in case of uncertainties, feel free to ask. Should there be essential omissions in the questionnaire, he will talk about them, and formal information, for example when you got your driver's license, can always be handed in later.

One question, however, is important and it gives you a moment of power and decision. You have to mark with a cross if you feel mentally and physically fit. Take this question seriously. Normally, you are well prepared to handle the MPU. You have made sure of enough sleep, you have taken a day off and thus you can calmly answer with "Yes". It may, however, be that you have slept very poorly, that you have not had a decent breakfast, that you have planned wrongly, or that you had to wait a very long time and thus don't feel well in the waiting room. In such a case you should tick off the "No" and thus postpone the examination, because in such a desolate state you are bound to fail. Should you yet have reasonably prepared yourself for the test, the questionnaire generally and this question particularly will not cause you any problem.

4. Medical Examination

According to the timing of clients you will first be called by the physician or the psychologist. The sequence of the examination is irrelevant. Since the medical examination will be shorter, you will first see the psychologist, if you are on top of the list of clients, if you are at its end you will first encounter the physician. Let us assume that you will start with the medical examination.

Dependent on its grounds, the examination consists of two parts, an informative and a practical one. Let us inspect both in detail.

a. Informative Part: General State of Health, Anamnesis and Consumption

Initially, the physician will question you about your general state of health and he will take down a couple of basic personal data. He will check your height, body weight and also ask for your nicotine or prescription drug consumption. In case of an alcohol question, he will certainly check if you regularly are in contact with solvents at work which might raise your liver parameters.

The anamnesis deals with past or still virulent serious diseases which you or family members might have developed, where diabetes or physical handicaps may be considered as examples relevant for driver's fitness. In this case, it is a good idea to bring along a medical certificate of your family doctor for the MPU physician to find out if he needs additional data.

Should you have been summoned due to an alcohol or drug offence, you have to be prepared to additionally answer questions about your respective consumption. In the case of alcohol, it's about your earlier and actual drinking or a possible alcohol dependency; in the case of drugs, the physician will want to confirm or exclude a physical dependency as well when assembling your earlier drug consumption. You will then also have to give details about your actual alcohol consumption to exclude the suspicion of a shift of addiction.

Don't make a mistake here! Generally, in the case of no physical drug dependency, a moderate, that is controlled drinking of alcohol is possible next to the obviously reasonable alcohol abstinence. And should you opt for the first alternative, you are strongly advised to state it as well, since anyway the truth normally is the most successful strategy in an MPU. For the physician can - if you claim alcohol abstinence - ask you to agree to a hair analysis which would probe your statement of abstinence for the last three months. Should you have consumed alcohol and should you thus produce a discrediting medical result, the expertise will turn negative due to a lack of trustworthiness or the proven contradiction.

Things will get interesting if you refuse such a test. We have to see how the examination realty will deal with such a decision in the drug case. However, let us work with the assumption that the physician probably has the right to check your abstinence statement. It is obvious that your refusal will be negatively judged. Thus it should diminish your prospect of success, because you have failed to manifest the necessary openness and cooperation, and why should have be afraid of such a test if you have told the truth? As you can see, our discussion has already taken us into the practical part of the medical examination, and this one, we would like to consider in detail.

b. Practical Part: Physical Examination, Abstinence Proof

Here, in an internal examination, the physician will compile a few essential data concerning your actual health status. He will check your eyesight and hearing ability, he will take your blood pressure, may even test your reflexes. If you were summoned to the MPU on account of point violations or legal offences, you will have completed the medical examination.

Should your file identify you as an "alcohol offender", it may be that you have to provide a breath test. You will also have to perform a couple of tasks you already should be familiar with from the post DWI examination (e.g. standing on one foot, finger-to-nose test, walking on a straight line). Additionally, a blood sample will be taken to check the liver parameters, and of course you should present all medical documents, for example own liver parameters or protocols of the abstinence checks (EtG) to the physician.

We are left with the drug case which distinguishes itself by a urine sample taken under visual control. Here now, you have two options: you "can" or you "cannot". Legendary among insiders is a female physician or a renowned institute who regularly was able to cause the so-called "urinary retention" in clients. Rien ne va plus! This inhibition is not a real advantage, for on the one side you eventually have to turn in the missing findings later, i.e. come back a second time causing a delay in the issue of the expertise, on the other hand, by having kept one year of drug abstinence which you typically have to document, you will possess enough distance from your earlier abuse, and you are not interested to put this positive evidence at risk by a drug consumption few days before the MPU.

What is finally to be said about the joker of the expert, the trump card he can come up with: the EtG proof? If you claim alcohol abstinence, always count on having to prove it. This means that a physician can ask for an instant urine control which – dependent on the amount and time of the consumption – can provide a result for a few days (cf. Medical Proof of Evidence in the Alcohol Case). Alternatively, the physician can also take three centimeters of (head) hair, and thus he can check a potential alcohol consumption in the past three months. Minimal amounts of alcohol to be found in medication (of homeopathic doses) are not to be traced with this method, but a regular consumption or episode of binge drinking will walk into its trap. Here, we can also say: Research in medicine is permanently evolving, its methods are becoming more sophisticated, the Cut-Off-Values are lowered: it is therefore not worth to gamble.

Should you have chosen a traffic psychological counseling, you will have discussed all of that beforehand with your psychologist. You will then know if you will go into the MPU with a sustained abstinence or a controlled drinking program, and you will stick to the truth. You will then not only be without fear of possible medical retests, you will also be and appear confident which will bring us effortlessly to the psychological part of the examination.

5. Psychological Examination

If the medical details are clarified, the psychological examination will in the end decide if you pass the MPU or not. For you have already worked with a traffic psychologist, you have collected all the necessary medical certificates or abstinence proofs and you have handed them over to the physician. And the fitness test will – as we saw above – also normally not be a crucial criterion, since a driving probe which declares you to be eligible for driving, is always possible.

So, the psychologist will call you up and lead you into his office. He has carefully studied your file and now he will pose his questions according to his own professional experience and the guidelines of the administration which actually had to fix the grounds for the examination. Although the psychologist has to accept a certain restriction by this administrative commitment, it is not fully clear how far it reaches in the concrete case. On this score, I will give you a precarious example whose definitive clarification is still pending.

Following the letter of the law, the expert is only allowed to ask about those violations and offences which the driver's license office has mentioned in the order of the MPU. In this document, you will find the information whether you have to submit to an MPU due to a violation concerning alcohol, drugs, points or criminal offences, and in its supplementary sheet those violations will concretely be listed which are still usable, e.g. have not been cancelled. Offences which are not explicitly named there, lack the permission of being legally utilized and thus, they cannot principally be questioned by the expert. So far goes the theory.

Now, while all authorities of the local driver's license offices have assured me that they would exclusively like only those offences to be addressed, the majority, but not all of the MPU institutes have clearly acknowledged that guideline. While the former have adopted the position of the driver's license offices, the latter insisted in observing other offences as well which although not mentioned in the supplementary sheet, were luring in the file of the driver's license office. Due to practicability, they had not been removed from it before dispatch. Thus, the expert roughly scans this file. In court sentences, expert's opinions or other documents, he finds references to other, earlier deeds, and so he insists on his right to take them into account as well "in the interest of a comprehensive assessment of personality of the client". I consider this to be incorrect, but I have repeatedly experienced that experts acted this way in individual cases, even starting an argument with the driver's license office.

Let us end this unpleasant matter by aiming for the solution and not the problem. Either, the driver's license office is prepared to withdraw all data which are not relevant from dispatch. Or it can request the expert in an own note to use only the facts mentioned in the supplementary sheet, what he then hopefully will do. Or – and this would be the easiest solution – you ask the traffic psychologist which MPU institute is complying with the said guideline, and thus you will chose a provider who not only works correctly psychologically, but also legally.

You did, however, not wish to be irritated, but wanted to know more about the course of an examination, and thus, I would certainly like to say a few more things about that. To begin with, allow me a useful tip about your medical evidence. Tell the psychologist anyway instantly that you have already handed over medical certificates or documents of abstinence proof, or, if you first see the psychologist, give them to him, since although the physician and the psychologist will consult your case during the examination or shortly afterwards, you do not know if this conversation has already happened. Thus it is always an advantage if the psychologist sees this positive evidence as well. A client, who has personally presented all the documents, starts the exploration differently than one who is yet supposed to do so.

Elsewhere on this website, I have already introduced the specific themes or question of the expert separated by MPU occasions. Here, we will deal less with concrete questions, because they can differ from one psychologist to the next. We will rather talk about those topics which an expert has to cover. Just head towards the pages about the MPU counseling (in alcohol – drugs – points – criminal offences) and read through the variant you are interested in.

You will discover that under the heading "The Counseling (MPU-Preparation)" there are different modules. They feature the content of the coaching and also the themes of the psychologist's exploration. As you will find its textual details on these pages, we can confine ourselves to more general remarks about the course of an MPU and will be free to add the occasions more generously.

a. Introduction and Preliminary Phase

The expert introduces himself, usually cites again the administrative question for you to know what all is about, and questions you on your job and state of life. You are as well allowed to tell him about your hobbies to induce a more positive mood at the outset and lead you into the exploration. These first sequences of communication help the expert indeed to find out how free you can talk, if nervousness or even anxiety are present, or if you simply speak German well enough to understand the questions. If the expert has convinced himself that an unproblematic conversation is possible, he will pose the really relevant questions, i.e. he will get down to business. Here, we have three varieties which are optionally used.

The classical questioning follows a rather rigid scheme that some expert has saved in his PC sorted by cases. You will be asked question after question, and urged to answer only and exactly to that question. Here, the interview typically advances chronologically, i.e. it start with the past = a summary of your contraventions and ends with the future, your goals or your prevention strategies. Another type of exploration beings with a question and will relative to your answer pass over to new questions, including the possibility to jump from one theme to the next and back. The results are mosaic-like accumulated and thereby shall produce a homogenous picture. The third type leaves you the most freedom. It mostly does without questions, rather poses them additionally. The expert calls upon you to speak with the phrase: "Please, start ..." and writes down everything that you have to say.

You do not know which technique of interrogation will await you and you also don't know if and when the expert switches from one type to the next. But you don't care. If you are well prepared having called on a traffic psychological counseling, you can handle every expert.

b. Analysis of the Offence/s (What Question)

To get to know the questions a little bit better, let us take on the first type of questioning, and let us look at the principal scheme of an MPU. After job, live status and hobbies have been interrogated the analysis of the offence(s) is next. Here, the expert will ask you to tell what concretely has happened on day X of the offence which you are charged with. Concerning the driving under influence of alcohol, this mostly is the night of the alcohol abuse including the driving itself. When tackling drugs, the police inspection might come into focus. In the case of points or criminal offences, the main facts will be investigated in an analogous manner with the expert restricting himself to a selection in case of an accumulation of entries.

The psychologist will thus get to know your case, and he can uncover and address discrepancies to the file status. Of course, honesty and openness are your best strategy, which means, for example, that you have to name the real consumption of alcohol or drugs in the day/night you were controlled by the police. In the case of points, you have to know the real level of your speeding, preferably without the deduction of tolerance and in the case of criminal offences like coercion, the sequence of events has to be told without whitewashing.

c. Causes (Why Question)

Once the sequence of the offence or offences been clarified, the expert will investigate its motives or causes. Motives would be subjective agents, causes objective ones, for example facts relying to external circumstances. You can facilitate the work by distinguishing reasons of day and reasons of life. Reasons of day only focus on the day of the offence: in the case of alcohol, they refer to an invitation to drink; in the case of points, time trouble or stress might be relevant. Reasons of life are more comprehensive and act indirectly. Looking at alcohol or drugs, a longer prehistory of abuse might be called into question, with personal or professional problems being at its root. In case of offences, a hurt personality, a heightened irritability, and in case of point violations, a wrong time management or professional pressure might be important. Whatever is true in your case: you will intensely have talked about these explanatory biographical moments in your traffic psychological counseling and be able to give a competent response without being suspected of looking for excuses.

d. Past Consumption (Only in the Case of Alcohol or Drugs)

Exclusively when dealing with alcohol or drug violations, the expert asks about your past intake. He wants to know when, how much, and which legal or illegal drug you have consumed, and it is best to take along a respective table or graph which you have worked out in your traffic psychological counseling and are allowed to present to the expert. It is of utmost importance that you offer these data precisely and quickly, i.e. you have beforehand memorized them. At the day of the examination, steer clear of making an intensive effort to recapture your memory, vaguely scanning thought the years. All of this will be interpreted in a negative way as a lack of involvement in your offence history. Also, avoid long-winded explanations of why you have consumed, since this is the theme of the next question.

e. Motives of Consumption (Only in the Case of Alcohol or Drugs)

Having hopefully discovered your past consumption, the expert want to know why you have dealt for such a long period or so frequently with the alcohol or the drugs. Here, it's not about the offence day – this has already been clarified under point d. –, rather we are talking about your past in general. Mostly, motives from the life history of the client can provide the necessary answer, be they of private or professional nature. Your traffic psychologist will have tackled together with you a list of motives which you want to present now easing the burden or proper information.

f. Accumulation of Violations (All Reasons, especially Points and Offences)

Particularly in the case of the other two, non-addictive reasons of an MPU, we are more likely dealing with the accumulation of violations, that is the question why you were not only conspicuous once, but more often. This question as well refers to the past and rather focuses on aspects of personality. You shall know what went wrong in your life, your profession, your private life, your time management, your attitudes, and how these undesirable developments have favored the incidents. Here as well, the traffic psychologist has together with you cemented in a professional, serious counseling, factors which apply to you and which you can therefore plead for in a plausible and convincing way.

It is not worth to arbitrarily gather up such motives from the internet or the advice of friends, since the expert does not only perceive the content of your verbal message, but also its observable body language. Who is telling the truth, will correspond in content and gesture (physiology), i.e. be congruent, as the psychologist likes to say; who is not telling the truth, will not manifest such a congruity. You know this criterion yourself and apply it on a daily basis, if you want to find out if a person is honest to you. The psychologist does not proceed in another way. Maybe he is better trained or more experienced with regard to body language.

g. Self-Evaluation and Relapse Awareness

After having sufficently dealt with the background of your 'culpable' behavior, the expert will ask about our assessment of things. It is obvious that only a critical self-evaluation will offer chances of success. Thus, no matter which MPU group you belong to: you will not neglect to clearly and openly address the own mistakes. You will avoid minimizations or euphemisms, and you will actively touch upon the risk inherent in your wrongdoing. You may call this remorse or not: the expert expects you to have realized this very personal moment of responsibility, and he wants you to take it seriously.

An awareness of the dangers of relapse would be a vital part of this responsibility, and here, your mouth may be seduced to utter an understanding that you have always to stay alert, even if at the moment quite a few things have turned positive. You should always have an eye on the relapse danger. Whoever pretends to be too secure, will considered arrogant and at risk. Who, on the other hand, knows and appreciates this danger, will avoid the relapse. This is about how expert thinks, and thus you should also judge and present the issues along this line. In doing so, you can also name concrete moments of danger, the so-called "icy spots" resp. problem zones of your way of life, which you care for. The MPU will casually pass here over to the last subject area, the change and the prevention plan.

h. Change and Prevention Plan

Should the expert not have mentioned this in the course of the exploration, he will now decidedly ask for changes in your life. You can assume that about what has been wrong in the past resp. what has influenced the offence as a harmful cause, will - according to a reversal conclusion - have to be amended in the meantime. Alcohol abuse has developped into controlled drinking, or even better abstinence. You have permanently discontinued the drug consumption. Your circle of friends has been checked and sorted out, and if in case of points or legal offences diverse stressors have been prevalent, you have just here demanded calmness, prudence and planning. Keep in mind that it is not sufficient to generally assert changes of a kind we regularly are confronted with by politicians in the TV, ready to be imitated. The expert wants to hear concrete examples, and he will ask how you and your social environment have reacted to them.

The prevention plan is concerned with similar themes. On the one hand, you will again mention the positive changes in form of an upcoming prophylaxis. On the other hand, diverse goals can be thought about which might motivate you to lead a reasonable life, i.e. one favoring the driver's fitness. And finally, the so-called strategies of problem-solving should take effect. These are tools to adequately tackle difficulties or conflict situations. In accordance with a just mentioned idea, those deficiencies which have occurred in the past, should be replaced by successful alternatives. So you do not only know what you want to improve concretely, you also know, how to get there: for example by working on your self-esteem, by controlling your private or professional life, or by being able to successfully handle situations of conflict or provocation. Of course, you are free to take advantage of foreign or specialized help to supplement your prevention strategies.

i. End of Exploration and Communication of the Result

If you have done all of this, the expert should have a positive impression of you. During the conversation, you will already realize, whether he likes your answer or not. Finally, however, when everything has been talked over, the expert will give you the opportunity to address anything open in closing words. He will then officially end the exploration and will normally tell you the outcome of the examination. All MPU institutes advise their employees to express this decision, but the way this is done is certainly variable. It may be that the expert openly tells you the result. It may, however, also happen that he wants to avoid a long discussion with you. He will then either not give you a result at all, or he will in a certain way evade the concrete answer by telling you that he has to carefully check everything and consult the doctor. Should you indeed follow the advice given on this website and should you have prepared thoroughly and professionally for the MPU, then the result of the examination should be positive, and which expert will then hesitate to tell you his final verdict?

My Wish and Your Future

I personally wish that everything turns out this way and that the case will change for the better. I would like you to receive a positive expertise, since from many of my clients, I know what that means. The positive expertise will free you and will take the pressure away from you which has for too long a time burdened you. It will again hand over to you the license to drive, for the driver's license office will generally adhere to the recommendation of the expertise. It will finally give back to you that mobility, you are entitled to as a free human being, should you need it privately or existentially.

But I wish for even more, because I believe that all the effort to regain the driver's license and is confirmation in the form of a positive expertise have turned you into a better driver. I wish you a safe driving and a permanent driver's license. I wish you to preserve what you have learned and to implement it while driving. Then, not only will you profit from your rehabilitation: we all will profit from it. Be one of those who go this way and grant yourself this moment of responsibility and self-discipline. Allow, with the freedom of the driver's license and the responsible driving for that very own triumph.

Do you understand now, what has been the only justification for the traffic-psychological counseling and the MPU? Both have worked together to rehabilitate you, and nothing else is relevant. Don't gamble with the chance. Treat yourself to a traffic-psychological counseling to minimize the risk and to maximize your prospect of winning. It's up to you as well to get a positive expertise and drive again!

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