Courts could require individuals convicted of a DUI (driving under the influence) offense to attend a DUI school and/or undergo alcohol treatment as part of their sentencing. DUI schools are state-approved programs designed to educate and counsel individuals convicted of DUI offenses. The duration and rigor of the program could differ based on the gravity of the crime and the individual's prior criminal record.

On the other hand, alcohol treatment programs are tailored programs aimed at assisting individuals in overcoming alcohol addiction and associated problems. They typically incorporate a combination of individual and group therapy, medical detoxification, and medication-assisted treatment. Courts sometimes require individuals to complete a DUI school and an alcohol treatment program as part of their sentencing. These programs aim to help individuals address alcohol-related issues and prevent future DUI offenses.

Our Bakersfield attorneys at Koenig Law Office explain DUI programs and alcohol treatment options below.

Length of Time You Should Take When in a DUI Program  

DUI education and counseling programs aim to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to avoid future DUI offenses. Moreover, these programs offer assistance and helpful resources to individuals facing challenges related to alcohol or drug addiction.

DUI school attendance could be mandatory to reinstate a driver's license after a DUI arrest, and attendance at a DUI school could be mandatory. The court or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) could issue this requirement. The length and type of DUI school program required will vary depending on the case's specific circumstances, including the offense's severity and the individual's prior criminal history. If an individual does not fulfill the program requirements as mandated, they could encounter further legal repercussions. These include an extended license suspension or revocation, fines, and even imprisonment.

DUI school attendance is mandatory for drivers arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), irrespective of whether they are convicted, plead guilty, or enter a no-contest plea for any DUI offense, including:

  • Driving under the influence, a violation of VC 23152(a)
  • Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, a violation of VC 23152(b)
  • Wet reckless, a violation of Vehicle Code 23103 to Vehicle Code 23103.5, or
  • Any other DUI offense.

Let us look at the duration of each crime.

     a) A Wet Reckless Plea Bargain

Generally, a "wet reckless" is a commonly negotiated plea bargain from DUI charges that involves a conviction for reckless driving with alcohol involved.

In a DUI case, "wet reckless" is a lesser offense that can be obtained through a plea bargain, where the defendant acknowledges operating a vehicle recklessly with some level of alcohol in their bloodstream. It is not a separate offense. An individual cannot be explicitly arrested for a "wet reckless" violation.

The program for "wet reckless" defendants, also called the SB 1176 program, typically involves six two-hour weekly classes, totaling 12 hours.

     b) Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.20%

If an individual is convicted of a first-time DUI offense with a blood alcohol content (BAC) below 0.20%, they will generally be required to complete a state-licensed, three-month, 30-hour alcohol and drug education and counseling program.

A first-time DUI or "wet reckless" offender with a BAC below 0.20% is typically mandated to participate in a state-approved, three-month alcohol and drug education and counseling program, commonly known as an AB 541 class.

As a driver's DUI probation requirement, the 3-month program typically involves attending 10 to 15 classes for 3 to 4 months. The course is usually offered every week. The program provides thirty hours of instruction. Attendance and completion are mandatory. The program incorporates the following:

  • An intake and enrollment
  • 12 hours of teaching sessions
  • 18 hours of group sessions, and
  • Three individual counseling meetings

However, the precise classes and programs could vary depending on the provider of the drug/alcohol education program.

     c) Second Wet Reckless or a BAC of 0.02% or Greater

A driver will be required to attend a 9-month DUI education program if:

  • It was a wet reckless conviction or the driver’s first DUI within ten years, and their blood alcohol concentration was 0.20% or greater, or
  • It is the driver’s second DUI or “wet reckless” conviction within ten years, or
  • The driver refused to submit to a chemical test after a DUI arrest

This nine-month program is sometimes referred to as an SB 38 class. It consists of sixty hours of drug/alcohol education and counseling.

The nine-month DUI program usually includes the following:

  • 12 hours of educational classes (six 2-hour education courses)
  • 16 individual counseling sessions lasting fifteen minutes each
  • 44 hours of group counseling (twenty-two 2-hour group sessions)
  • Attendance of 36 (thirty-six) Alcoholics Anonymous sessions
  • Community reentry monitoring, and
  • Random alcohol/drug testing.

     d) Second DUI Offense

For second-time DUI offenders, the required DUI education program is either 18 or 30 months long, depending on the circumstances. Most second-time DUI offenders must attend the 18-month program, also called SB38. Sometimes, a judge could allow third or subsequent driving under the influence offenders to attend the 18-month program instead of the thirty-month program. However, they must not have previously finished the 18-month program. If an offender has already completed the 18-month program as part of a previous DUI conviction, they would not be eligible to attend it again. It is not a substitute for the 30-month program for a subsequent DUI conviction. The requirement to participate in the longer program would still apply in this case.

The 18-month DUI school program for second-time DUI offenders includes the following:

  • 12 hours of alcohol/drug education
  • A program requirement during the initial year is to have individual interviews every two weeks
  • 52 (fifty-two) hours of group counseling, and
  • 6 hours of community reentry monitoring

The community reentry monitoring component helps transition the participant back into everyday life and could include assistance with job placement or referrals to self-help programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.

     e) Multiple DUI

The law mandates a thirty-month DUI education program (also called SB 1365) for individuals convicted of multiple DUI offenses within ten years of a prior DUI or wet reckless conviction. This program is also required for third or subsequent DUI offenders who do not qualify for the eighteen (18)-month program.

The thirty-month program consists of the following:

  • 12 hours of alcohol/drug teaching
  • 50 hours of individual counseling
  • A program requirement during the initial year is to have individual interviews every two weeks
  • 78 (seventy-eight) hours of group sessions, and
  • 12 hours of community reentry monitoring

The program also requires the participant to attend 120 hours of self-help meetings: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Note: Only Butte, Los Angeles, Mendocino, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus counties offer the 30-month program. Kern County does not have a 30-month minimum. It has an 18-month minimum program instead.

     f) Underage Drinking Program

Individuals under 21 years old convicted of a DUI will be required to complete a program known as the AB 803 program. The program is designed explicitly for underage drivers.

This program typically involves six weekly two-hour classes, and it is a requirement for individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • The individual is between 18 and 20 years old
  • It is the individual's first DUI conviction

Costs of the DUI Programs

The cost of DUI programs varies depending on the county and the program provider. Generally, the cost can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. DUI program costs in Kern County range from $270 to $3,000. The fees are subject to modification. It is best to check with the specific provider for current pricing information.

What If You Cannot Afford the Court-Mandated Program?

 You could be eligible for financial assistance if you cannot afford your court-ordered DUI program. Many DUI program providers offer sliding scale fees based on your income and available waivers. Some also offer payment plans. You could also be eligible for state-funded programs like the California Department of Health Care Services Substance Use Disorder Services.

If an offender qualifies for a fee waiver or reduced fees, the program cannot decline services based on the following:

  • The individual’s financial status,
  • A "waitlist" or refer the offender to another DUI program provider due to inability to settle the full rate,
  • Requirement of participants to:
  1. Deposit, pay a down payment, or face monthly charges for missed classes exceeding $5.
  2. Pay extra costs, including a $10 reinstatement fee or a $5 rescheduling fee.

Offenders could be required to provide income documentation to the program provider to verify eligibility.

It is best to talk to your DUI program provider or attorney about your financial situation and explore all available options. Do not fail to complete your program because of an inability to pay, since a failure to complete a court-ordered DUI program can result in additional legal consequences.

Accessing DUI Classes on a Suspended License

In the event of a DUI conviction resulting in a suspended driver's license, obtaining a restricted one is possible. This license will allow you to drive to and from your court-ordered DUI program. You must fulfill particular prerequisites and adhere to specific protocols to attain a limited license.

Note: A restricted license typically requires the installation of an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) for DUI offenders. The IID device requires a breath sample before you can start your vehicle. It also requires a breath sample periodically while you drive the car. The vehicle cannot start or will shut down if the IID detects a blood alcohol concentration exceeding a specific threshold. The time the courts require the IID to remain installed depends on the case's specifics and the offender's driving history.

In general, eligibility for a restricted license requires you to:

  • Serve a mandatory suspension period — This varies depending on the circumstances of your case
  • File an SR-22 form (Certificate of financial responsibility) with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • Pay any required fees and penalties
  • Enroll in a court-approved DUI program — The program provider typically provides evidence of enrollment in a DUI program upon registration. This could include a letter or certificate of enrollment or completion, which you can submit in court or to the DMV as proof of compliance with a court-ordered or DMV-ordered DUI program within 21 (twenty-one) days. The program provider could also submit evidence of registration for the program or completion directly to the court or DMV on behalf of the participant.

Upon fulfilling the eligibility criteria, submitting the essential paperwork, and paying the applicable charges, the DMV will evaluate your application for a limited license to decide if it should be approved. If your application is approved, you can drive to and from your DUI program and any other necessary locations, including work or school, during the hours specified by your restricted license.

The DMV will suspend your license if you decline to take a breath or blood test following a DUI arrest for:

  • One year for a first offense
  • Two years for a second offense, or
  • Three years for a third offense

Throughout this duration, you will be ineligible for a limited license. However, you can qualify after applying for a critical-need driver’s license to drive to and from work and taking DUI education classes. You must provide documentation showing that your employment or education will be severely impacted without a driver’s license. Further, you must demonstrate that no other reasonable transportation option is available.

The critical need license is issued at the discretion of the DMV and requires payment of a fee.

Missing DUI School Sessions

 If you skip a class in your court-ordered DUI program, you will likely be required to make up the missed session. The specific makeup policy varies by program, but most require that you make up any missed classes within a particular time frame, usually a few weeks to a few months.

Failing to complete the missed class within the stipulated time frame will be deemed a breach of your program prerequisites, which could lead to additional penalties or repercussions, including a program restart, expulsion, or probation violation. You must communicate with your program provider if you know you will miss a class or have already missed one. Additionally, ensure you understand the school’s makeup policy and potential consequences.

Generally, your program will be discontinued if you miss the following sessions:

  • Two sessions for the SB 1176 program — The 12-hour education
  • Two sessions for the SB 1176 program — The 12-hour schooling
  • Five sessions for the AB 541 — The 3-month education
  • Seven sessions for the AB 1353 program — The 9-month schooling
  • Ten sessions for the SB 38 program — The 18-month education and
  • Fifteen sessions for the SB 1365 program — The 30-month school session (18 months in Kern County)

Content and Structure of the DUI School Classes

The content and structure of DUI classes vary depending on the program and the length of the program. In general, the courses consist of educational sessions and counseling to assist participants in comprehending the hazards and repercussions of driving under the influence, devising methods to avoid future DUI occurrences, and dealing with underlying factors that could contribute to substance abuse.

Some of the topics covered in DUI classes include:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse education
  • The legal and financial consequences of DUI
  • Impacts of DUI on victims and families
  • Understanding addiction and how to break the cycle
  • Strategies to avoid high-risk behaviors and situations
  • Developing a support system and relapse prevention plan
  • DUI laws

The sessions can be delivered to individuals or groups and entail talks, exchanges, and hands-on exercises. The courses aim to promote responsible behavior and prevent future DUI incidents.

Sobriety When Attending DUI Classes

Attendees at DUI school are required to remain sober during the program. At any moment, they could be liable to undergo drug and alcohol screening. They could be dropped from the program or face other consequences if they test positive. Maintaining sobriety is a fundamental aspect of the program, and participants are expected to approach their rehabilitation earnestly.

Additionally, DUI education program attendees are expected to behave appropriately during classes and not disrupt the learning environment. A disruptive participant who dozes off during the session or endangers the instructor or other learners will be dismissed from the program. The specific policies and procedures for handling disruptive behavior vary with each program provider.

Consequences of Failing to Complete the Court-Mandated DUI Education Sessions

The consequences of not finishing the DUI program can differ based on your circumstances.

If the court mandated that you finish the program as part of your sentence for a DUI conviction, not finishing it could lead to a probation or parole violation. The judge could also issue a bench warrant for your detention, resulting in additional fines and penalties.

If you were obligated to complete the course as part of a plea agreement, not fulfilling the program could lead to the annulment of the plea deal, and you could face the original charges and associated penalties.

Moreover, failing to complete the DUI program could also result in the suspension or revocation of your driver's license. The DMV or the courts could demand you restart the program from the beginning.

Cases Where the Offender Lives Out of State

There are two scenarios that courts focus on for offenders who reside out of state, namely:

  • Offenders who live in another state because of military duty
  • Offenders who are not-California residents

Offenders on Military Duty

 If active military duty prevents completion of the DUI program due to deployment or other service-related activities, you could be eligible for a deferral or extension of the program. You must present evidence of your military status to the court and request a deferral or extension. The court will decide whether you qualify and what the conditions of the deferral or extension will entail.

Offenders Who Reside Outside of the State.

 To prevent any possible repercussions for non-compliance, contacting the court promptly and arranging for the necessary measures is crucial.

While DUI education programs can be completed in the individual's home state, offenders must receive approval from the California court that issued the DUI conviction and their home state's DMV. The person must locate a DUI program in their home state sanctioned by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and satisfy the required hours for the California program. They must then petition the California court for approval and provide proof of their admission to the out-of-state program.

The out-of-state DUI program must meet California's standards, including any required counseling and treatment. Moreover, the program must be finished within the designated time frame. Failure to finish the program could result in violating probation and other legal consequences.

In cases involving non-residents, judges allow the application of a 1650 waiver. The waiver is a legal agreement that enables defendants to waive their right to be physically present at certain court hearings. This waiver is used when a defendant cannot appear in person due to circumstances. For example, if the defendant lives out of state or cannot take time off work. The defendant's attorney can file a 1650 waiver with the court. If granted, the defendant can participate in the hearing through other means, including video conference or telephonic appearance.

Completion of the DUI Education

Upon finishing the DUI program, you will be issued a certificate of completion, which you must present to both the court and the DMV as evidence that you have fulfilled the conditions of your sentence. This certificate usually comprises your name, the name of the DUI program, the total number of hours completed, and the completion date.

You should keep a copy of the certificate for your records and submit duplicates to your lawyer, the court, and the DMV as required. Once you have completed the program and provided proof of completion, you will have satisfied the conditions of your DUI sentence concerning participation in a DUI education or treatment program.

Contact a DUI Attorney Near Me

Are you facing DUI-related charges in Bakersfield?

Contact the Koenig Law Office right away. Our team will assess your case and counsel you accordingly. Based on your case's facts, we will advise whether a plea bargain agreement allowing you to attend DUI treatment and education is a viable option. Further, we could push to have you serve probation, requiring you to participate in the drug treatment sessions, if a dismissal of your charges is not viable. Contact us at 661-793-7222 for more information.