When a person is convicted of DUI in California, or even if he or she is not but the DMV admin per se hearing officers finds that the driver was driving under the influence, the offender will be required to attend an alcohol education program. This requirement is written into the statute and there is usually no way out if the driver want to get his or her driver’s license back. There are varying levels of DUI education programs depending on the driver’s BAC and whether it is a first or subsequent DUI offense.  The programs are offered by private entities that are licensed by the state. The offender must pay for this education and the price tag can be hefty.

The least onerous of the alcohol education programs are those required when a person is convicted of a “wet reckless.” A wet reckless is basically a plea to something less than a straight-out DUI and is usually available to those defendants whose DUI case is weak, for example, a border-line BAC. Persons convicted of a wet reckless need only complete 12 hours of lectures, which is the educational component of the first-time DUI offenders program.

A person convicted of a first-time DUI, where the BAC measured under .20% and there was not chemical test refusal after the arrest will be required to complete 12 hours of lectures plus group or individual counseling. The counseling hours required will usually depend on the drivers BAC. If the first-offense DUI involved a BAC of over .20% or a refusal to take a chemical test after arrest, the offender will be required to attend 12 hours of lectures but the counseling (group and/or individual) requirements are increased substantially. Generally, the first-time offender with a high BAC or test refusal can expect to spend 60 hours total attending alcohol education and counseling.

A person convicted of a 2nd or subsequent DUI within a 10 year period will be required to complete an 18-month program. This program consists of 12 hours of alcohol education and over 75 hours of group and individual counseling in the first 12 months and six one-hour sessions (one per month) for the next six months. For those who are convicted of a 3rd DUI in ten years, the defendant may be allowed to complete a 30-month program plus community service rather than go to jail or some combination thereof.

These programs are designed to encourage the offender to make positive lifestyle changes and to reduce or eliminate the use of alcohol or drugs. The costs for the programs run from approximately $300-$400 for the wet reckless program, $600 to $1,200 for the first-time offender program, and around $2,000 for the second-time offender program. These fees are for the education programs and counseling only; overall costs resulting from a DUI conviction are much higher.

William Weinberg has almost 25 years of experience defending drivers charged with driving under the influence. You may consult with him about your DUI matter by contacting him at his Irvine office at 949-474-8008 or emailing him at

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