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CONSTITUTIONAL LAW a state law providing for the involuntary commitment of a chemically dependent person to a treatment facility for up to 60 days if the person “has twice before in the preceding twelve months been admitted for detoxification, sobering services, or chemical dependency treatment . . . and is in need of a more sustained treatment program,” is unconstitutionally vague, the Washington Court of Appeals said on May 12. In re the Treatment of Mays, No. 50222-1-I. The state petitioned for 60 days of involuntary chemical-dependency treatment for John Mays, a chronic alcoholic who had been admitted to a detox facility three times in three months. The trial court granted the petition, finding that Mays was “in need of a more sustained treatment program.” Overturning the commitment, the appeals court said that the statute in question, R.C.W. 70.96A.140(1), was not narrow enough to ensure the detention of only alcoholics with a substantial risk of serious injury. It said that the phrase “in need of a more sustained treatment program” was void for vagueness because there could be great differences of opinion as to when such a need existed.

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