There are several consequences of a DUI conviction in California. They are license suspension, substantial fines, victim restitution in case your DUI caused an accident, jail or prison time, and an IID installation. Apart from these, the judge may also order you into DUI School that may involve mandatory alcohol education, treatment, and assessment requirements.

When it comes to DUI School, you might have several questions about how important these classes are, or if it is even mandatory for you to attend DUI school. If you have these questions, an attorney is the best person to reach out to. He/she would probably tell you that the decision to attend DUI School isn’t one you would want to take lightly, particularly if you wish to have your driver’s license restored. A skilled lawyer can assess the facts surrounding your case, analyze the proof against you, and champion for your best interests. Reach out to a local drunk-driving attorney as soon as you get arrested for DUI. In this article, our attorneys at Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm discuss in detail what DUI school and alcohol treatment programs entail.

DUI School and Alcohol Treatment Laws

Mandatory alcohol education, treatment assessment laws require that one attends driving-under-the-influence prevention programs that are geared towards alcohol therapy or education.  Sometimes, as part of a probationary condition or suspended sentencing arrangement, the court might order a DUI offender to enroll in programs like these so they can be taught about dependency on alcohol and the repercussions of driving under the influence.

Otherwise called DUI Education or alcohol education programs, DUI School can often reduce, eliminate, or replace harsher punishments in DUI cases, like license suspension, jail time, and court fines.

If you complete the terms and conditions of your alcohol education and therapy program successfully, you may have your driver’s license reinstated. On the contrary, if you fail to adhere to the terms and conditions of your program, you won’t be eligible for driving privilege reinstatement. Apart from that, you may be taken back to the court for other legal actions.

Alcohol assessments take place before trial but after sentencing. The court and the DMV can order that a DUI offender attends alcohol treatment programs or education classes, and the results will be considered in the final sentencing. California requires a convicted offender to complete a DUI education program successfully before his/her driver’s license can be restored. Also, mandatory alcohol treatment/assessment laws require a convicted offender to go through an evaluation of alcohol abuse issues and take part in a compulsory treatment program.

One of the most common alcohol treatment programs in California is AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). Here, there are typical open discussions centered on the dangerous alcohol effects and the consequences of DUI. Generally, there are open and frank discussions concerning an individual’s particular situation and discussions to assist in identifying symptoms of alcohol abuse and their treatment.

Apart from AAs, there are also other treatment programs meant to assist drunk or drugged driving offenders to stop driving while under the influence, like (MADD), Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Often, this program partners with different organizations to share individual stories of family members or friends who were drunk-driving victims and strives to make drunk-driving laws tougher.

The Definition of DUI School

Driving Under the Influence school refers to a set of courses that may include an assessment of substance abuse treatment you might be ordered to undergo as part of your probationary sentence. These classes aim to teach an offender about the effect of alcohol on a person’s body, the impact of prescription or illegal drugs or alcohol on their ability to drive safely and to prevent them from repeat conduct.

The Length of DUI School

You have to enroll in DUI School irrespective of whether you are found guilty of, or have entered a guilty plea or a no-contest plea to:

  • Vehicle Code 23152a DUI
  • Vehicle code 23152b operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher
  • Vehicle Code 23103 via Vehicle Code 23103.5 a wet reckless. Wet reckless is a common plea bargain negotiated from drunk-driving charges
  • Any other DUI offense under California law

Just like other features of DUI cases, the length of a DUI school program depends on several factors like how many past DUI convictions you have had within a particular period or whether it’s a first DUI offense. It also depends on the severity and nature of your crime, including your level of blood alcohol concentration. Here is an account of the DUI School programs for different kinds of drunk-driving offenses:

The 12-hour DUI Program for a Plea Bargain of Wet Reckless

If you are found guilty of a first wet reckless crime, you have to complete a 12-hour DUI education program, sometimes called an SB 1176 program. Note that a police officer cannot arrest you on the grounds of committing wet reckless. A wet reckless crime is only a reduced crime that emerges from a drunk-driving plea bargain. Essentially, you admit to operating the vehicle recklessly with a given quantifiable alcohol amount (the ‘wet’ bit) in your blood. The 12-hour DUI program for a wet reckless offense comprises six two-hour sessions per week.

The 12-hour Underage DUI School Program

The DUI program, if you are a minor below the age of twenty-one with a DUI conviction, is also called AB 803. This program also involves six classes per week, each lasting two hours. Here, you will be required to complete the twelve-hour drinking-under-the-influence class if you are eighteen to twenty years, and it’s your first drunk-driving conviction.

BAC below 0.20% level - the Three-months First Offense DUI Education Program

You will have to complete a three-month DUI School program if:

  • It’s your first wet reckless or DUI conviction within ten years
  • Your blood alcohol content was below 0.20%

This is the most common DUI School program for first drunk-driving offenders, and it’s sometimes called an AB 541 program. The program covers people found guilty of drunk-driving as well as those found guilty of DUID (driving under the influence of drugs).

If you are required to enroll in this three-month driving-under-the-influence program, attendance plus successful completion would be included in the conditions of your DUI probation. This program comprises thirty hours of instruction.

Precise programs and classes vary based on the alcohol/drug education program provider. However, generally, you can anticipate attending ten to fifteen sessions. Usually, this translates to one meeting every week for between three and four months.

Typically, the three-month DUI Education Program comprises of:

  • Education classes for twelve hours
  • Group counseling for eighteen hours
  • An enrollment and intake session
  • Three in-person counseling sessions
  • Six to eight self-help meetings (NA, AA, etc.)

A 0.20% or Higher BAC or a Second-time Wet Reckless Offense- the Nine Months DUI Education Program

This program is also known as an AB 1353 program. The court will order you to enroll in a nine months DUI School program if:

  • You are a first-time offender, and your blood alcohol concentration was .20% or more
  • You refused to submit to chemical testing after you had been arrested for drunk-driving
  • You enter a guilty plea to wet reckless and have another wet reckless or DUI conviction on your criminal history from within your past ten years

The nine months DUI School program consists of sixty hours of instruction that involve:

  • Six two-hour classes that might combine both film and lecture
  • Twenty-two group sessions lasting two hours (one session after every two weeks)
  • Sixteen in-person interviews (lasting fifteen minutes each)
  • A necessity that you participate in thirty-six Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings

The Eighteen Months Second DUI Offender School Program

A 2nd drunk-driving conviction in ten years of your past wet reckless or DUI conviction will attract a DUI School Program for eighteen or thirty months. The eighteen months alcohol/drug school program is also referred to as SB38. It’s the one ordered for many of the second drunk or drugged driving offenders.

The court might also allow specific third/subsequent drunk or drugged driving offenders to enroll in this eighteen-month program instead of the thirty-month one designated for them, as we shall discuss below. For you to be eligible for the eighteen-month program when you’re a third/ subsequent offender, you mustn’t have completed the eighteen-month previously.

The eighteen-month drunk/drugged school program includes group discussions, lectures, and videos concerning DUI laws in California and alcohol and drug abuse. Also, there are therapy sessions whereby instructors encourage motorists to point out any alcohol or drug problems. They could also suggest means to correct one’s behaviors.

The eighteen-month DUI Education Program for repeat offenders also involves monitoring of community reentry. This assists in transitioning the motorist back into his/her original life, including helping him/her to move from the strict DUI education requirements to self-help meetings like AA. At this period, the provider of the program may also assist the motorist in finding a job if need be.

To be specific, the eighteen months of DUI School involves:

  • Group counseling for 52 hours
  • Drug/alcohol education for 12 hours
  • Community reentry monitoring for six hours
  • Bi-weekly in-person interviews in the first year of your program

The Thirty-months Multiple Offender Program

Orange County authorizes thirty months of DUI school program for multiple DUI offenders. This program is also known as SB 1365. The court will order you into this program if:

  • You had a specifically elevated BAC at the time you got arrested for a second DUI crime
  • You were found guilty of or entered a no contest or guilty plea to third/subsequent drunk or drugged driving crime with any blood alcohol content level

When ordered into the thirty months DUI School program, requirements include:

  • Group counseling for 78 hours
  • Drug and alcohol education for 12 hours
  • Community service for between 120 and 300 hours
  • Regular in-person interviews

Even though DUI classes are compulsory in California, their duration requirements may sometimes be eliminated or lowered through expert plea bargaining and negotiations.

The Cost of DUI Education Programs

The costs of DUI School programs vary based on location and provider. For instance, the approximate charges of first-offense drunk-driving programs in Orange County are:

  • Twelve-hour program: $270
  • Three-month program: $843
  • Nine-month program: $1,851
  • An eighteen-month program: between $1900 and $2600
  • Thirty-month program: $3000

Approximately $350 down payment fee is typically required for you to join most of these programs.

Fee waivers can be made available if you can’t afford your court-ordered drunk or drugged driving school. You may ask for a financial evaluation directly from the provider of the DUI program. Lowered fees depend on a sliding scale. Should you qualify for a waiver, the driving-under-the-influence education program might not:

  • Deny you the services based only on your financial status
  • ‘Waitlist you or refer you to another program provider due to your incapability to pay the whole fee
  • Require any fee for the down payment
  • If you qualify for general assistance benefits, you will be charged a missed class fee of over $5 per month, and a rescheduling fee of $5 plus school reinstatement fees of $10, if applicable.

You ought to be ready to provide your award letter for general assistance benefits or any other income documentation to your DUI School program provider. The provider needs to verify your income before assessing a lowered payment schedule.

How Do You Attend Classes if Your License was Suspended?

If you are a first adult DUI offender and your driving privilege was revoked or suspended, you may qualify to obtain a restricted license. For you to qualify for this, you mustn’t have declined a DUI blood or breath test. An IID restricted license permits you to drive to any place provided you have an IID installed in your car. Alternatively, a restricted license permits you to operate your vehicle:

  • During the period of your employment
  • To and from your workplace
  • To and from the DUI School

Generally, before the DMV issues you with any form of a restricted license, it will need proof that you have enrolled in the DUI education program and also proof of your financial responsibility.  Note that you don’t qualify for a restricted license in case you were operating a commercial motor vehicle when you got arrested for DUI.

Proving to the DMV and Court that You Are Enrolled in a DUI Program

  1. Proof of Enrollment

In the course of your drunk or drugged driving sentencing, the court will order you to present proof that you enrolled in a DUI school program within twenty-one days. After you join, the provider of the program will generally send a certificate of proof of enrollment to the DMV and the court on your behalf.

  1. Proof of Completion

Apart from ordering you to present proof of enrollment, the court will also require you to complete the DUI education program by a specified date.  The provider of the program will give to the DMV and the court a completion certificate when you complete the program successfully.

Missing DUI School Sessions

If you are a DUI school participant, you are permitted to skip a given number of classes. However, you have to make up for the sessions you missed before you are issued with a completion certificate. Should you exceed the allowed number of sessions you can skip, you will be dismissed from the program.

The total numbers of sessions you can miss before you are dropped from a DUI school program are like we have listed below:

  • AB 803 or SB 1176 (twelve-hour program): two classes
  • AB 541 (three-month program): five sessions
  • AB 1353 (nine-month program): seven classes
  • SB 38 (eighteen-month program): ten sessions
  • SB 1365 (thirty-month program): fifteen classes

What DUI Classes Involve

DUI schools consist of both education and counseling. Most of this counseling is done in groups. However, there are also individual interviews. On the other hand, the education part comprises education about DUI laws, problem drinking, and drug abuse. This education will be relayed in the form of videos, group discussions, and live lectures.

It is not mandatory for attendees to actively participate in the group counseling classes or educational components of the school program. However, they have to participate actively in one-on-one interviews.

Participants have to Remain Sober

You’re expected to be sober when participating in any court-ordered drunk or drugged driving school program. If it is suspected that you are intoxicated in an ongoing class, the instructor may:

  • Require you to take a breathalyzer test or undergo other forms of chemical screening
  • Expel you from the session and drop you from that program

You could also be dismissed from a DUI education program if:

  • You’re disrupting the ongoing class
  • You sleep during class
  • The instructor has a reason to believe you are a danger to him/her or other students

Consequences of Failing to Complete a DUI Program

Usually, completing a DUI program is a requirement of DUI probation. Should you fail to complete your program, here are the repercussions you are bound to face:

Probation Violations

Should you be expelled from a DUI program, you cannot operate your auto using a restricted driver’s license. Operating a vehicle with no license may subject you to a drunk-driving probation violation. Failing to complete the court-approved DUI School is also considered a breach of your probation terms and conditions.

A Bench Warrant for Violating Probation Terms

If you fail to attend your DUI education, the program provider will notify the court. Then, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest. After you have been arrested, the court will schedule a drunk-driving probation violation hearing. Violating the terms of probation will subject you to an added prison or jail sentence. Additionally, the DMV may revoke your restricted license then restore the initial license revocation or suspension.

An additional point you should consider is whether you want your driving privilege to be restored or not. As we said earlier, if you fail to take or otherwise complete your classes, the DMV may withhold your driver’s license for a prolonged period. You might not qualify driving privilege reinstatement, and you may be ordered to go back to court for additional legal action against you.

On the better side, should you complete your DUI classes as per your probation terms, you may be capable of getting your license restored earlier than your initial sentence. You will need to talk to an experienced DUI attorney so you can learn more.

DUI School for Those Who Reside Out Of California

  1. Military Duty

If you are a drunk or drugged driving offender and you must leave California due to military duty, you may ask for a leave of absence from a DUI school program. Once you return to California, you will be allowed to continue from where you left off. You will still have to complete your required DUI program to be considered to have satisfied probation terms and conditions.

  1. Out-of-California Residents

If you live in another state and have been arrested for driving under the influence, or you plan on moving out of California, you must still challenge your DUI charges in the county in which the DUI incident supposedly occurred. If you are ordered into a DUI education, the court may let you have a waiver (1650 waiver) so that you can attend classes in the new state.

However, it’s critical to keep in mind that the out-of-California DUI school program curriculum should be quite as detailed as the California program. Also, it must satisfy the DMV of California. If it doesn’t, it might trigger a prolonged license suspension period in your home state. Also, note that solving a DMV conviction won’t satisfy the requirements the court imposes. DMV and court proceedings are distinct matters. A skilled DUI defense attorney may advise you on the ideal action you can take.

Hire a Competent DUI Attorney Near Me

Attorneys may be expensive for most people to afford. However, they will often save you money in the long run and will work with you to ensure you obtain the best possible outcome for your DUI case, be it a reduced charge or a lenient sentence. If you are facing DUI charges, a competent DUI lawyer may negotiate on your behalf for alcohol treatment or DUI School instead of jail or prison time, or other harsh penalties. For residents of Orange County, attorneys at Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm are readily available to help with your case. Call us at 714-740-7866 as soon as you get arrested. We dedicate ourselves to ensuring our services are satisfactory to our clients.