What is DUI School and How Does it Work in California?
In California, when you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, there are two cases against you: (1) the traditional criminal case that is handled in the local Superior Court; and (2) the DMV “Administrative Per Se” (APS) case that is handled through the DMV. If you are convicted of a DUI (or a “wet reckless”) in your criminal case OR if you lose your APS case, you will have to enroll in an “alcohol/drug education program”, also known as DUI school (or DUI classes). The length and content of the classes varies depending on (1) whether you have any prior DUI or “wet reckless” convictions and (2) how high your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was.
For a First-Offense DUI, There are Three Possible DUI Classes:
- 6-week program – This program is designed to be 2 hours per week for 6 weeks. This program is usually only available if you are convicted of a “wet reckless” in court AND you win your DMV APS case. (If you are convicted of a “wet reckless” and you lose your DMV APS case, you will still have to do the 3-month program described below.) This program will cost approximately $300-$500 depending on the county you live in.
- 3-month “first offender” program – This program is designed to be 2 hours per week for 3 months. This program is required if you have been convicted of your first DUI and your BAC was below 0.15%. This program will cost approximately $700-$900, depending on the county you live in.
- 9-month program – This program is designed to be 2 hours per week for 9 months. This program is required if you have been convicted of your first DUI and your BAC was at least .20%. This program will cost approximately $1,100 -$2,000, depending on the county you live in.
All of these programs are completed through local non-profit companies that have been approved by the local court. Your local court will direct you to the appropriate provider. It is important that you only go to the approved providers. If you go through an unapproved provider, it will not count. This means that you will be deemed non-compliant with the terms of your probation, and the DMV will not re-instate your license.
In Monterey County, DUI classes are provided by Sun Street Centers
As you can see, these programs can be quite costly. The cost of these programs is in addition to any fines ordered by the court (approximately $1,000 for a “wet reckless” or $2,000 for a DUI). Fortunately, you can enter into a payment plan for these costs if you are not able to afford the full amount up front.
Before the recent COVID-19 pandemic, people were required to attend these programs in person. However, most providers are now conducting remote sessions, which will allow you to attend DUI classes from the safety of your home. You will need to contact your local program provider and pay the enrollment fee before you can start attending online. But, you do NOT need to enroll just because you were arrested for DUI. You typically only need to enroll if you are about to be convicted of a DUI or you lost your DMV APS hearing (or failed to request it and your BAC was .08% or above).
A DUI conviction or a DMV APS loss will result in your driver's license being suspended. However, you can apply for a restricted license (allowing you to drive to and from work) once you have enrolled in DUI classes (and obtained a SR-22 insurance policy, installed an ignition interlock device (if required), filled out the appropriate forms, and paid the appropriate fee to DMV). You will need to complete your DUI school before your license can be fully reinstated.
Please keep in mind that this DUI school requirement applies both to what happens in your court case and what happens in you DMV case. Remember that you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to request your DMV hearing. If you fail to request your DMV hearing within 10 days, you will lose your right to request a hearing and your license will automatically be suspended.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is imperative that you have a skilled DUI attorney in your corner. Call us today for a free consultation!