Residents of California charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or “buzzed driving” must attend DUI classes. What’s known as DUI school serves to provide education and help prevent future DUI offenses.
Here, you will learn what to expect if you’re ordered by the court to attend a DUI education program in the state of California.
What is DUI School?
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. As such, a DUI charge means you were illegally operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drug use. Although every state is different in terms of the legal ramifications regarding DUI convictions, drunk driving laws are prevalent nationwide.
And in the state of California, DUI offenders must enroll in a driver responsibility program. Some of the notable offenses include:
- Underage DUI of .05%+ BAC (Vehicle Code #23140)
- DUI of .08%+ BAC (Vehicle Code #23152[b])
- Wet reckless (Vehicle Code #23103.5)
- DUI (Vehicle Code #23152[a])
When you enroll or are ordered to enroll in a DUI California program, you must attend one licensed by the state of California. Due to the pandemic, California now allows virtual meetings for DUI classes but the program must be licensed by the state.
What to Expect
How long your courses take and how much they cost depend on the nature of your offense. For example, a first-time DUI California offense for drivers under the age of 21 requires 12 hours of classes and a fee of $270 (approximately).
But an offender with prior DUI convictions could be looking at 2 ½ years of classes and a fee of $3,000. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) also plays a role in the frequency and cost of your classes.
First-Time DUI (Under 21)
The DUI program for California minors under 21 years of age is known as AB 803. It includes six two-hour lessons per week. Under the following circumstances, underage drivers must complete a 12-hour DUI course:
- Between the ages of 18 and 20
- A first conviction for DUI
Anyone convicted of California’s wet reckless offenses for the first time must complete a 12-hour drunk driving program. Such programs are known as SB 1176. Drivers cannot be arrested for wet reckless violations.
Moreover, wet reckless is an offense that’s been reduced in a plea bargain. Essentially, the driver admits that their blood contains a certain amount of alcohol (wet) and that they drove recklessly as a result. The 12-hour DUI school program for “wet reckless” defendants includes six two-hour classes per week.
First-Time (Under .20 BAC)
Drivers will be required to participate in the three (3) month DUI education program if:
- This is the driver’s first DUI or “wet reckless” conviction in ten years
- The driver’s BAC is less than 0.20%
This three-month course is the most common first DUI school and is known as AB 541. It covers people convicted of driving under the influence and people convicted of DUID, or DUI on drugs. If the driver is ordered to participate in the three-month DUI program, attendance and completion will become a condition of the driver’s DUI trial period.
Moreover, the three-month driving plan includes 30 hours of learning. The exact courses and programs vary depending on the provider of the alcohol or drug education program. Typically, though, drivers take between 10 and 15 lessons. This is usually a once-a-week meeting that lasts three to four months and consists of the following:
- Enroll and intake
- 12 hours of education classes
- 18 hours of group counseling
- Three individual counseling sessions
First-Time (Over .20 BAC)
A judge will order the DUI offender to attend a nine-month program, known as AB 1353, under the following circumstances:
- First-time offense with BAC of .20%+
- Refusal of chemical testing following DUI arrest
- Plead guilty to wet reckless and has additional DUI charges in the last ten years
Most nine-month DUI courses include 60 hours of class time and the following:
- Six 2-hour classes
- Twenty-two 2-hour group counseling sessions
- Sixteen 15-minute individual interviews
- Agreement to attend 36 AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings
Repeat DUI Offenses
The second drunk driving conviction within ten years of the last drunk driving or wet reckless conviction will result in an 18-month to a 30-month drunk driving education program. Most second-time DUI offenders need to participate in the 18-month program, known as SB38.
The judge may also allow certain third or subsequent DUI offenders to attend this 18-month DUI school instead of the 30-month course. But to be eligible, the driver must not have previously completed the 18-month program.
The 18-month program also includes what’s known as community re-entry monitoring, which helps transition the driver to everyday living. As such, it helps the driver break free of DUI school requirements and enter self-help programs such as AA.
If necessary during this period, the plan provider can also help participants arrange work. What’s more, the 18-month DUI school includes:
- A personal interview every two weeks in the first year
- 6-hour community re-entry monitoring
- 12 hours of drug or alcohol education
- 52 hours of group counseling
If you cannot pay for your DUI classes, fee waivers are available through the program provider. Moreover, a sliding scale dictates the reduced course costs. If you qualify for a fee waiver and cannot pay the total amount, you can’t be denied service to the program.
What’s more, you can’t be put on a waiting list or referred to another program provider, nor will you be required to make a down payment to attend classes. As someone who qualifies for general assistance, you also can’t be charged more than $5.00 a month in missed class fees or rescheduling fees, and this includes a $10 reinstatement fee.
If you receive general assistance, you should bring with you documentation stating as much. After you present it to the provider, they will verify it and determine an appropriate payment schedule at a reduced cost.
As you can see, there’s a lot involved when you are charged with a DUI. As such, it’s essential to consider reaching out to law firms in California to assist you. When you have a qualified DUI attorney in your corner, you can look forward to experienced legal advice and direction.