In California, enrollment in Driving Under the Influence (DUI) classes, is often one of the consequences faced by those convicted of DUI. It is not an optional or negotiable part of sentencing. After an arrest for a DUI offense, seek legal representation from a defense attorney experienced in handling DUI cases.
Along with having to attend DUI classes, you could face fines, loss of driving privileges, and jail time. A skilled defense lawyer from Simmrin Law Group will work to have your charges reduced and guide you through your sentencing to ensure compliance with all requirements, including your court-approved DUI program.
Who Is Required to Take DUI classes?
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and/or the California criminal court system requires attendance at DUI classes for drivers convicted of violating:
- Vehicle Code 23152(a): Driving under the influence
- Vehicle Code 23152(b): Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher
- Vehicle Code 23140: Underage driving under the influence with a BAC of .05% or higher
Drivers charged with “wet reckless” offenses must also fulfill this requirement. When alcohol- or drug-involved reckless driving charges are reduced, they are referred to as “wet reckless” offenses. The charge reduction is usually the result of guilty or no-contest pleas offered by first-time DUI offenders and is authorized under Vehicle Code 23103.5.
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What Is the Purpose of a DUI class?
The purpose of DUI classes is to educate attendees on:
- The effects of alcohol and other substances on a person’s driving abilities
- California’s drunk driving laws
- How to refrain from drinking and driving
- The risks that come with DUI
- The legal ramifications of a DUI conviction
- The nature of addiction
- Treatment options
Through these courses, attendees learn to take responsibility for their dangerous driving behaviors and develop strategies to avoid repeating them. Sobriety is a requirement for the duration of the course.
Can I Get Out of My DUI Class?
When you are required to attend DUI classes as part of your court-ordered sentencing for a DUI conviction, you must complete the entire program. There is no option to “get out” of the course or substitute it with something else.
At your sentencing, the judge will order proof of your enrollment in an approved DUI course within 21 days. Usually, program providers send this documentation to both the DMV and the court. However, you should always verify.
The judge will also establish the date by which you must complete the program.
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How Can I Find a Class Accepted by the Court?
Before starting a course, make sure it satisfies court requirements. There are approximately 500 state-approved programs in California. To find one:
- Review the County of Los Angeles’ list of court-approved DUI programs in and around Los Angeles
- Visit the California DHCS Driving Under the Influence page, and email or call for a list of approved programs
You must attend a court-approved program in person. Online programs do not fulfill court requirements.
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What if I Do Not Attend or Complete My DUI Class Requirement?
Attending court-ordered DUI classes is mandatory. You will face even more serious consequences if you do not complete your DUI program:
- You may be charged with defying a court order. This is a violation of your probation, and you will have to appear before a judge who may issue a jail sentence.
- The court may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Once arrested, you may face the maximum penalties for DUI charges, which can include a prison sentence.
- If you had been given restricted license privileges, the DMV will revoke them. If you were attending classes to have your privileges restored, you lose that opportunity and will not be able to drive legally in the state.
How Long Do DUI Classes Last?
The length of your course requirement depends on several factors, such as the circumstances of the charges, your driving history, your BAC at the time of your arrest, and your compliance with chemical testing after your arrest.
Alcohol and drug education and counseling requirements typically follow this plan, according to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS):
- Wet Reckless offenders: 12-hour course over a six-week period.
- First-time DUI offenders: 30 hours over a three-month period.
- First-time DUI offenders with a BAC 2.0 or higher: 60 hours over a nine-month period.
- Second-time (or more) offenders: 18-month multiple-offender program including 52 hours of group counseling, 12 hours of drug and alcohol classes, and individual interviews on a biweekly basis for the first 12 months of the program. Attendees also undergo six hours of community reentry monitoring.
- Third-time (or more) offenses: For these offenders, counties have the option to require 30-month DUI programs, including 78 hours of group counseling, 12 hours of drug and alcohol education, frequent and consistent individual interviews, and 120-300 hours of community service.
What Happens if I Miss a Session?
You are permitted a specific number of absences, depending on the length of your program. You must attend make-up sessions for any absences to be eligible to receive your certificate of completion.
The maximum number of absences allowed are:
- 2 for 12-hour courses
- 5 for 3-month courses
- 7 for 9-month courses
- 10 for 18-month courses
- 15 for 30-month courses
How Do I Prove My DUI Course Completion?
Your program provider will furnish the court and DMV with a certificate of completion once you have fulfilled your program requirements. The DMV requires electronic filing by the program itself to prevent offenders from submitting false certificates. Attendees cannot hand deliver or email the certificates on their own.
If you circumvent the process and file a false certificate, upon discovery and verification of your fraudulent act, the DMV will suspend or revoke your license for at least one year.
Do Not Face Your DUI Charges without a Lawyer
California takes the crime of driving drunk seriously. If you are convicted of DUI, you can expect charges that cost you time, money, driving privileges, and even your freedom. Do not face these charges alone.
An experienced lawyer from Simmrin Law Group is your best defense, having the legal knowledge and negotiating experience to potentially have your charges and penalties reduced.