In California, DUI classes are tools used to educate drivers about the risks and responsibilities of alcohol and drugs. Regulated by the state and offered by private providers, these programs are usually mandatory when a person is convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
Participating in these educational sessions can be critical to reducing your sentence. If these classes are taken before court dates, a Los Angeles DUI lawyer can use them for bargaining in a plea deal.
If you have been arrested for DUI, reach out to an experienced DUI attorney in Los Angeles. They can explain the charges and provide options for your defense. They can also discuss when and if you should enroll in a DUI class and what to expect from the program.
What Is a California DUI Class?
In California, someone convicted of alcohol or drug-related driving offenses faces potential penalties like:
- License suspensions
- Jail sentences
- Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) or personal breathalyzers
However, your penalties are not limited to these. Drivers with DUI convictions are often required to attend months of mandatory DUI classes. These classes can be court-ordered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Depending on the severity of the DUI and where the offense occurred, they can last from six weeks to 30 months.
Components of a DUI Class
Usually, DUI classes intend to teach drivers convicted of DUI about the dangers of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Attendees are taught California’s DUI laws, and the effects of drug abuse and problematic drinking are explained. The educational components used include:
- Group discussions
Along with education, these classes also provide counseling for substance abuse. The counseling can happen in groups or one-on-one sessions. Sobriety is mandatory during classes, and failing to remain sober often results in expulsion from the program.
Who Is Required to Take DUI Classes?
You can be required to participate in a DUI class when you have been convicted of several driving offenses, including:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
- DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher
- Underage DUI with a BAC of 0.05 percent or higher
- A plea bargain for a lesser charge or a wet reckless
- Any other driving offense related to alcohol or drugs
The court typically orders someone who is charged with any of these offenses and submits a guilty plea or pleads no contest/nolo contendere to attend a DUI program.
How Long Is a DUI Program in California?
The duration of some DUI programs is only 12 hours. The most severe DUI case can receive 30 months of classes. The severity and duration of the required participation are determined by the nature of the driving offense, BAC, and where the arrest and subsequent conviction happened.
- 12-Hour DUI Program – Usually results after a plea bargain for lesser charges (wet reckless) on a first-time offense. This program may also apply to minors under 21 convicted of DUI for the first time, and it is broken into weekly two-hour classes over six weeks.
- Three-Month DUI Program – This program is the most common, resulting from a first DUI conviction when the BAC is below 0.15% percent. Often a term of probation for alcohol and drug DUIs consists of counseling and education in 10-15 classes over three months.
- Six-Month DUI Program – This program is the second most common, resulting from a BAC between 0.15 and 0.19% on the first conviction. Often a term of probation for alcohol and drug DUIs, sessions consist of 45 hours of alcohol and drug assessment and education, accompanied by group and individual counseling sessions.
- Nine-Month DUI Program – These may result from a BAC over 0.20% or the refusal of a chemical test after an arrest. These classes typically break down into 60 hours of education and counseling over nine months.
- 18-Month or 30-Month DUI Programs – These longer programs are intended for repeat offenders. Two or more DUI or wet reckless convictions within ten years will result in the extended attendance of a longer DUI program, and classes include 70-90 hours of education and counseling.
Individuals with multiple DUI convictions most commonly receive an 18-month program. A 30-month program is typically reserved for repeat offenders with extremely high BAC levels. A community service element usually accompanies the education and counseling portions.
How Much Are DUI Classes and Who Pays?
DUI classes are not only a considerable time commitment, but they can also be a major expense. The state requires that you pay out-of-pocket for your own sessions. California has more than 200 DUI class providers that are licensed by the Department of Health Care Services, and each charges varying prices for classes.
On average, the expected fees usually fall into the following ranges:
- 12-Hour Program = $200 – $300
- Three-Month Program = $450 – $550
- Six-Month Program = $750 – $950
- Nine-Month Program = $1,000 – $1,250
- 18-Month Program = $1,550 – $1,750
- 30-month program = As much as $3,000
The providers ask for down payments at enrollment, and the expense is generally covered by the offender. Some providers offer fee waivers or reductions in certain cases of financial hardship.
Can I Take the Class Online?
Under some circumstances, DUI classes have been offered online, but typically, classes consist of in-person sessions. If any time is missed, it has to be made up to complete the course. Frequently missing classes will result in termination from the program.
There are serious repercussions for failing to complete DUI school. Because it is seen as defying a court order, bench warrants could be issued for arrest. In some cases, license suspensions may be reinstated or extended.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer for Help
Just because you have been arrested on a DUI charge, it does not always mean you will face a conviction. A DUI conviction can be accompanied by a litany of penalties and requirements that feel like they will never end. A Los Angeles DUI Attorney can help navigate even the most complicated case.
A DUI class may sound like a hassle, but it can serve as a goodwill measure towards the court that allows you to receive lesser penalties for serious charges. This is especially true in the case of multiple DUI charges. To protect your rights, find out the best options for your case, and build the strongest possible defense, contact a qualified DUI lawyer in Los Angeles.