When a driver is convicted on a DUI, his or her term of probation will include a requirement to complete a DUI program. On a typical first-time conviction, the driver will be required to complete a 3- to 4-month, 30-hour program. In some instances, the court may order a shorter program of 12 hours if the offense was reduced to a “wet reckless” or for other reasons, such as a conviction on a below .08% BAC. However, if the driver’s BAC was over .19% or if there were extenuating circumstances, such as reckless driving or an accident coincident to the DUI, the court may order a 6-month, 42-hour program or even a 9-month, 56-hour program.
In straight DUI conviction, without enhancements, the 6-month and 9-month programs are generally ordered only on a second or third DUI (within ten years). A driver convicted of a third (or more) DUI within ten years will be ordered to complete an 18-month, 64-hour program or even a 30-month DUI program.
The final order will depend upon the court and the county requirements.
Often, when a first-time DUI offender is ordered to DUI school, he or she does not know what to expect. The state sets the general curricula for these programs but how the program is administered may vary from school to school. All DUI schools must be licensed by the state. There are around 20 licensed locations in Orange County and many offer classes in languages other than English. The DUI offender must pay for his or her court-order DUI program, which can run as low as $300 to thousands of dollars depending on the program ordered.
So, what do these programs entail? All DUI programs are directed at helping the offender make better decisions and life-choices.
Whether it’s a three month or a thirty-month program, all programs consist of an educational component (DUI School) and counseling, both group and individual (except the 12-hour program). On the “easy” end, the 12-hour program requires 6 weekly group classes of 2 hours each. The 30-hour program, usually ordered only for first time offenders, consist of 10 classes, once a week for 3 months or 15 classes, once a week for 4 months. There will also be 18 hours of group counseling and 3 sessions where the DUI offender will have one-on-one counseling.
The longer programs will follow this pattern, just with more hours required. Offenders ordered to the 9 or 18-month program will also be required to attend a certain number of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings; this also may be ordered by the court on a first-time offense. Multiple offenders will also be required attend counseling sessions and other programs specifically directed towards the repeat DUI offender.
Of course, one of the main components is a reality-check. Participants may be shown graphic videos of DUI-related collisions. There may be a guest speaker who was convicted of DUI murder or manslaughter or a speaker who lost a family member to a DUI driver. The California DUI laws will also be reviewed in these classes, making sure participants understand that driving under the influence can have devastating consequences not only for others but can result in severe punishments for the DUI driver.
Once someone has a few drinks, their decision-making skills are compromised. With the understanding that most DUI program participants will drink again, the DUI programs provide tools to the participant to help them recognize the effects of alcohol on their brain so that they can make better decisions before they drink (such as recognizing that they should not drive to a location where they intend to drink, but rather take a taxi or ride-share, or designate a driver). The programs also encourage participants to consider changes in their social circle, for example, not hanging out with friends for whom drinking is the main activity.
Another tool taught in the DUI programs, especially in the counseling sessions, is to help the participant recognize situations or circumstances may “trigger” the participant’s drinking. For example, does the participant use alcohol to relax or cover up bad feelings? Once a participant is able to identify his or her triggers, the participant learns how to avoid using alcohol in response.
Orange County DUI defense attorney William Weinberg has been defending drivers charged with DUI for 25 years. He is available for a free consultation to discuss your DUI matter. He can be reached at his Irvine office by calling 949-474-8008 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.