California DUI School: Frequently Asked Questions

 

You must enroll in California DUI school if you are convicted in California of either Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC driving under the influence, Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, or Vehicle Code 23103.5 VC "wet reckless."

DUI education program providers must be licensed by the State of California. Licensed providers conduct only in-person programs. DUI classes offered via the internet DO NOT meet California's DUI Program requirements.[1]

There are nearly 500 licensed DUI programs in California, administered by over 250 service providers

Most of these DUI school programs will not allow you to enroll unless you have either

The required length and likely cost of your DUI school program will depend on the specific DUI offense of which you are convicted. The following table summarizes the length and cost of California DUI school for various types of DUI offenders:

DUI / Wet Reckless Offense

Length of DUI School

Approximate DUI School Cost

Number of Classes You May Miss

“Wet reckless” or under-21 first offender

12 hours

$270

2

First-time DUI with BAC under 0.20

3 months (30 hours)

$843

5

First-time DUI with BAC of 0.20 or higher or repeat "wet reckless" offender

9 months (60 hours)

$1850

7

Repeat offender DUI

18 months

$1900-$2600

10

Repeat offender DUI with BAC of 0.20 or higher OR with 2 or more prior DUIs (some counties only)

30 months

$3000

15

 

DUI / Wet Reckless Offense

DUI School Length and Approximate Cost

“Wet reckless” or under-21 first offender

12 hours; $270

First-time DUI with BAC under 0.20

3 months (30 hours); $843

First-time DUI with BAC of 0.20 or higher or repeat "wet reckless" offender

9 months (60 hours); $1850

Repeat offender DUI

18 months; $1900-$2600

Repeat offender DUI with BAC of 0.20 or higher OR with 2 or more prior DUIs (some counties only)

30 months; $3000

Attendees-at-DUI-school-program
The length and cost of your required DUI school depends on factors such as whether this is your first DUI and what your BAC was.

Below, our California DUI defense attorneys answer the following "frequently asked questions" about California DUI school:

1. How Long Will My Required DUI School Program Be?

1.1. The twelve-hour DUI school for a "wet reckless" plea bargain

1.2. The twelve-hour underage drinking program

1.3. BAC below 0.20% -- the three-month first-time DUI program

1.4. BAC 0.20% or greater or second wet reckless -- the nine-month DUI program

1.5. The 18-month second-time DUI offender program

1.6. The 30-month multiple DUI offender program

2. How Much Does California DUI School Cost?

2.1. Summary of approximate DUI program costs and down payments

2.2. What if I can't afford my court-ordered
DUI program?

3. How Can I Attend DUI School If My Driver's License Has Been Suspended?
4. How Do I Prove to the Court and DMV That I Enrolled in and Completed DUI School?

4.1. Proof of enrollment

4.2. Proof of completion

5. What Happens if I Miss a DUI Class?
6. What Will I Do at California DUI School?
7. What Happens if I Don't Complete My Court-Ordered DUI Program?

7.1. Probation violations

7.2. Bench warrants for probation violations

8. How Can I Attend California DUI School if I Live or Move Out of State?

8.1. Military duty

8.2. Out-of-state residents

1. How Long Will My Required DUI School Program Be?

You must attend DUI school regardless of whether you were convicted of, or plead guilty to:

  • VC 23152(a) driving under the influence,
  • VC 23152(b) driving with a BAC of 0.08% or greater, or
  • VC 23103 via VC 23103.5 "wet reckless" (a common negotiated plea bargain from DUI charges).

Below is a brief description of the California DUI programs for various kinds of DUI offenders.

1.1. The twelve-hour DUI school for a "wet reckless" plea bargain

People convicted of a first-time California "wet reckless" offense must complete a twelve-hour DUI program. These are sometimes referred to as SB 1176 programs.[2]

You cannot be arrested for a wet reckless violation. Wet reckless is a lesser offense that results from a DUI plea bargain. In essence, you admit to driving recklessly with some measurable amount of alcohol (the "wet" part) in your blood.[3]

The twelve-hour DUI school program for "wet reckless" defendants consists of six weekly two-hour classes.

1.2. The twelve-hour underage drinking program

Police-officer-arresting-teenager-for-DUI
Minors under 21 convicted of DUI are typically required to attend a 12-hour program.

The driving-under-the-influence program for minors under 21 with a California DUI is also known as an AB 803 program. It, too, involves six weekly two-hour classes. You will be ordered to complete this 12-hour DUI class if:

  • You are 18-20 years old, and
  • You are convicted of a first-time DUI.[4]

1.3. BAC below 0.20% -- the three-month first-time DUI program

If

  1. this is your first DUI or "wet reckless" conviction within a ten (10)-year period, and
  2. your BAC was below 0.20%,

then you will be required to attend a three (3)-month DUI education program.[5]

This three-month class is the most common first-time DUI school and is sometimes referred to as an AB 541 class.

If you are ordered into the three-month DUI program, attendance and completion will be conditions of your probation. The three-month California DUI alcohol / drug program consists of thirty (30) hours of instruction.[6]

Breathalyzer-showing-0.13-BAC
First-time DUI offenders with BAC below 0.20% typically attend a 3-month DUI education program.

Exact classes and programs vary depending on the provider of the drug/alcohol education program. But, in general, you can expect to attend 10-15 classes. This is usually one meeting per week, for three to four months.

The typical three-month California DUI program consists of:

  • an enrollment and intake session,
  • 12 hours of education sessions,
  • 18 hours of group counseling, and
  • 3 individual counseling sessions.

1.4. BAC 0.20% or greater or second wet reckless -- the nine-month DUI program

The judge will order you to attend a nine (9)-month California DUI school (an AB 1353 program) if:

Judge's-hand-holding-gavel
A 9-month DUI program is required for first-time DUI offenders with BAC of 0.20 or above.

The typical nine-month DUI education program involves sixty (60) hours of instruction, which consist of:

  • 6 two-hour education classes (which may be a combination of lecture and film),
  • 22 two-hour group sessions (one every other week),
  • 16 individual interviews (lasting 15 minutes each), and
  • a requirement that you attend 36 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

1.5. The 18-month second-time DUI offender program

If you suffer a DUI conviction within 10 years of a prior DUI or wet reckless conviction, you must take an eighteen (18)- or thirty (30)-month DUI education program. The 18-month drug/alcohol school program (also known as SB 38) is the one required for most second-time DUI offenders.[9]

(A judge may also allow some third or subsequent DUI offenders to attend this 18-month DUI school in lieu of the 30-month program described below. In order to qualify for the 18-month DUI program as a third or subsequent offender, you must have not previously completed the 18-month program.[10])

According to Van Nuys DUI defense attorney John Murray:

"The 18-month DUI education program includes lectures, group discussions and videos about California DUI laws and drug and alcohol abuse. There are also therapy sessions, in which instructors encourage you to identify any drug and/or alcohol problems. They may also suggest ways to change those behaviors."

The multiple offender 18-month DUI school also includes "community reentry monitoring" to transition you back into "normal" life. It helps you move away from the rigorous California DUI school requirements and into self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. During this time, your provider may also help you with job placement if necessary.

Gavel-beside-car-keys-and-alcohol
Multiple DUI offenders must attend an 18- or 30-month alcohol education program.

Specifically, the 18-month DUI school consists of:

  • 52 hours of group counseling,
  • 12 hours of alcohol/drug education,
  • 6 hours of community reentry monitoring, and
  • bi-weekly individual interviews during the first year of the program.[11]

1.6. The 30-month multiple DUI offender program

Some California counties authorize a thirty (30)-month multiple offender DUI school (SB 1365 program). If you live in one of these counties, the judge must order you to attend this school if:

  1. You have a particularly high BAC on a second-time DUI offense, or
  2. You are convicted of, or plead guilty to, a third or subsequent DUI offense.[12]

As of September 2013, the only counties offering a 30-month third and subsequent offender DUI school program are:

The 30-month DUI education program requirements consist of:

  • 78 hours of group counseling,
  • 12 hours of alcohol and drug education,
  • 120-300 hours of community service, and
  • regular individual interviews.[14]
2. How Much Does California DUI School Cost?

2.1. Summary of approximate DUI program costs and down payments

DUI education program costs vary by provider and location. As of September 2013, the average costs of first-offender DUI programs in Ventura County are approximately as follows:

  • 12-hour program (SB 1176 or AB 803): $270,
  • 3-month program (AB 541): $843,
  • 9-month program (AB 1353): $1,851,
  • 18-month program (SB 38): $1,900-$2,600, and
  • 30-month program (SB 1365): $3,000.

A down payment of around $200-$300 is generally required to enroll in most programs.

2.2. What if I can't afford my court-ordered DUI program?

Five-dollar-bill-representing-cost-of-DUI-school
Paying for a required DUI education program is difficult for many California defendants.

Fee waivers are available for people who cannot afford their court-ordered DUI school. You may request a financial assessment directly from a DUI program provider.[15]

Reduced fees are based on a sliding scale. If you qualify for a fee waiver, the DUI education program may not:

  • deny you services based solely on your financial status,
  • "wait list" you or direct you to another provider because of your inability to pay the full rate,
  • require any fees as a down payment, or
  • if you qualify for general assistance benefits, charge you more than (a) $5.00 per month, plus (b) a $5.00 rescheduling fee for missed classes and a $10 school reinstatement fee, if applicable.[16]

You should be prepared to provide a general assistance award letter, or other documentation of your income, to your DUI school provider. The program will need to verify your income before it can assess a reduced payment schedule.[17]

3. How Can I Attend DUI School if My Driver's License Has Been Suspended?

If you are a first-time offender whose driver's license is suspended or revoked, you may be eligible for a restricted license to permit you to drive:

  • to and from your place of employment,
  • during the course of employment, and
  • to and from your DUI offender education program.[18]
California-drivers-license-marked-suspended
If your driver's license is suspended, you may be eligible for a restricted license allowing you to drive to DUI school.

Before it can issue you a restricted license, the DMV will generally require:

  1. proof of enrollment in DUI school, and
  2. proof of financial responsibility.[19]

Note that you are not eligible for this restricted license if you were driving a commercial vehicle at the time of your DUI.[20]

4. How Do I Prove to the Court and DMV That I Enrolled in and Completed DUI School?

4.1 Proof of enrollment

During California DUI sentencing, the judge will order you to show "proof of enrollment" in your DUI school within 21 days. Once you enroll, the provider will typically send a proof of enrollment certificate to both the court and the DMV on your behalf.[21]

4.2. Proof of completion

The judge will also order you to complete your DUI school by a specific date. Your provider will provide the court and the DMV with a certificate of completion when you successfully complete your course.

5. What Happens if I Miss a DUI Class?

DUI school participants are allowed to miss a certain number of sessions. However, you must make up your missed sessions before you will be issued a certificate of completion.[22]

Gavel-representing-DUI-probation
You will violate your probation if you fail to successfully complete your court-ordered DUI education program.

If you exceed the permitted number of absences for your DUI school program, you will be dropped from the DUI program.[23]

The number of classes you may miss before you will be terminated from the court-ordered DUI education program is as follows:

  • 12-hour program (SB 1176 or AB 803): 2,
  • 3-month program (AB 541): 5,
  • 9-month program (AB 1353): 7,
  • 18-month program (SB 38): 10, and
  • 30-month program (SB 1365): 15.[24]
6. What Will I Do at California DUI School?

California DUI school includes both:

  1. counseling, and
  2. education on California DUI laws, drug abuse and "problem" drinking, which may consist of:

    • lectures,
    • videos, and
    • group discussions.

While most of the counseling you receive will be in a group setting, you will engage in some one-on-one interviews as well.

You are not required to participate actively in the educational components and group counseling sessions of California DUI school. However, your active participation is expected during individual interviews.

Bottle-of-beer
You are expected to maintain sobriety during your court-ordered DUI classes.

You are expected to maintain sobriety while participating in a court-ordered DUI education program. If you are suspected of being under the influence in class, the program may:

  • require you to undergo a breathalyzer or other chemical screening,  or
  • expel you from the class and drop you from the program.[25]

You can also be dropped from your DUI school program if:

  • you are disruptive to the class,
  • you sleep during class, or
  • the instructor believes you pose a threat to him/her or to any other students.[26]
7. What Happens if I Don't Complete My Court-Ordered DUI Program?

7.1. Probation violations

If you are expelled from DUI class, it will prevent you from driving under a restricted license.[27] Driving without a license could subject you to a DUI probation violation.

Failure to complete your court-ordered DUI program is also a probation violation.

7.2. Bench warrants for probation violations

If you fail to attend your DUI school, the program will inform the judge.[28] The judge will then typically issue a California bench warrant for your arrest.[29]

After your arrest, the judge will set a DUI probation violation hearing. A probation violation subjects you to an additional jail or prison sentence.

In addition, the DMV will revoke any restricted license and reinstate your license suspension or revocation.

8.How Can I Attend California DUI School if I Live or Move Out of State?

8.1. Military duty

If you live in California but must leave for military duty, you may request a leave of absence from your court-ordered DUI education program.

Military-serviceman
Military members may request a leave-of-absence from court-ordered DUI school.

Once you return to California, you will be permitted to pick up where you left off. You must still complete your DUI school before this probation requirement is satisfied.

8.2. Out-of-state residents

If you are an out-of-state resident arrested for a California DUI--or you plan to move out of state--you still must litigate your DUI court case in the county where the incident took place. If you are ordered to attend DUI school, the judge may let you take classes in your (new) home state.

But it is important to note that the curriculum for the out-of-state DUI education program must be at least as comprehensive as California DUI school. It must also satisfy the California DMV. If it does not, it may trigger an extended driver's license suspension in your home state.[30]

Note further that taking care of your conviction with the DMV will not satisfy any requirements imposed by the court. Court and DMV proceedings are two separate matters.

An experienced California DUI defense lawyer can advise you on the best course of action.

Call us for help...
DUI-defense-firm-call-center

If you or a loved one would like to know more about California DUI school, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone.

We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

Additionally, our Las Vegas Nevada DUI defense attorneys represent clients accused of DUI offenses in Nevada. Visit our web page on Nevada DUI School, or contact our local attorneys at our Reno or Las Vegas office.

You may also find helpful information in our related articles on Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC Driving Under the Influence; Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC Driving with a BAC of .08 or Higher; Vehicle Code 23103.5 VC “Wet Reckless”; Driver's License Suspension After a California DUI; Plea Bargains from DUI Charges; Minors Under 21 With a California DUI; Refusing a Chemical Test After Being Arrested for DUI; Driver's License Suspended After a California DUI; California DUI Sentencing; California DUI Laws; DUI Probation Violations; California Bench Warrants; and Out of State Residents Arrested for California DUI.

Legal References:

  1. Health and Safety Code 11836.10 HS -- Requirement that DUI school be with licensed provider.
  2. Vehicle Code 23103.5(e) VC – "Wet reckless" plea bargains [California DUI school required]. ("(e) Except as provided in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f), if the court places the defendant on probation for a conviction of Section 23103 that is required under this section to be a prior offense for purposes of Section 23540, 23546, 23550, 23560, 23566, or 23622, the court shall order the defendant to enroll in an alcohol and drug education program licensed under Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 11836) of Part 2 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code and complete, at a minimum, the educational component of that program, as a condition of probation. If compelling circumstances exist that mitigate against including the education component in the order, the court may make an affirmative finding to that effect. The court shall state the compelling circumstances and the affirmative finding on the record, and may, in these cases, exclude the educational component from the order.")
  3. Vehicle Code 23103.5(a) VC – "Wet reckless" plea bargains [California DUI school required].
  4. Vehicle Code 23502 VC -- Driving-under-the-influence program for minors convicted of DUI.
  5. Vehicle Code 23538(b)(1) VC – 3-month DUI education program for first offenders. ("The court shall refer a first offender whose blood-alcohol concentration was less than 0.20 percent, by weight, to participate for at least three months or longer, as ordered by the court, in a licensed program that consists of at least 30 hours of program activities, including those education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions described in Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 11836) of Part 2 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.")
  6. Health and Safety Code 11837(c)(1) HS -- 3-month DUI education program for first offenders. ("The court shall, as a condition of probation pursuant to Section 23538 or 23556 of the Vehicle Code, refer a first offender whose concentration of alcohol in his or her blood was less than 0.20 percent, by weight, to participate for at least three months or longer, as ordered by the court, in a licensed program that consists of at least 30 hours of program activities, including those education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions described in this chapter.") 
  7. Vehicle Code 23538(b)(2) VC – 9-month DUI school for first offenders with 0.20 percent BAC. ("The court shall refer a first offender whose blood-alcohol concentration was 0.20 percent or more, by weight, or who refused to take a chemical test, to participate for at least nine months or longer, as ordered by the court, in a licensed program that consists of at least 60 hours of program activities, including those education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions described in Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 11836) of Part 2 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.")
  8. Vehicle Code 23103.5 (f)(1) VC – 9-month DUI school for repeat wet reckless. ("If the court places on probation a defendant convicted of a violation of Section 23103 that is required under this section to be a prior offense for purposes of Section 23540, 23546, 23550, 23560, 23566, or 23622, and that offense occurred within 10 years of a separate conviction of a violation of Section 23103, as specified in this section, or within 10 years of a conviction of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153, the court shall order the defendant to participate for nine months or longer, as ordered by the court, in a program licensed under Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 11836) of Part 2 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code that consists of at least 60 hours of program activities, including education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions.")
  9. Vehicle Code 23542(b) VC –  Condition of probation [including DUI school requirement] for second offenders. ("In addition to the conditions specified in subdivision (a), the court shall require the person to do either of the following: (1) Enroll and participate, for at least 18 months subsequent to the date of the underlying violation and in a manner satisfactory to the court, in a driving-under-the-influence program licensed pursuant to Section 11836 of the Health and Safety Code, as designated by the court. The person shall complete the entire program subsequent to, and shall not be given any credit for any program activities completed prior to, the date of the current violation. The program shall provide for persons who cannot afford the program fee pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 11837.4 of the Health and Safety Code in order to enable those persons to participate. (2) Enroll and participate, for at least 30 months subsequent to the date of the underlying violation and in a manner satisfactory to the court, in a driving-under-the-influence program licensed pursuant to Section 11836 of the Health and Safety Code. The person shall complete the entire program subsequent to, and shall not be given any credit for any program activities completed prior to, the date of the current violation.")
  10. Vehicle Code 23552(c) VC -- Probation for multiple DUI offenders, including potentially 18-month DUI school. ("In addition to the provisions of Section 23600 [VC] and subdivision (a), if the court grants probation to any person punished under Section 23550 who has not previously completed a treatment program pursuant to paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) of Section 23542 [VC] or paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) of Section 23562, and unless the person is ordered to participate in, and complete, a program under subdivision (b), the court shall impose as a condition of probation that the person, subsequent to the date of the current violation, enroll in and participate, for at least 18 months and in a manner satisfactory to the court, in a driving-under-the-influence [California DUI school] program licensed pursuant to Section 11836 of the Health and Safety Code, as designated by the court.")
  11. California Department of Health Care Services, An Overview of California's Driving Under the Influence Program, Nov. 2013. 
  12. Vehicle Code 23568( b) VC – DUI school programs for multiple offenders. ("(b)In addition to Section 23600 and subdivision (a), if the court grants probation to a person punished under Section 23566 [third DUI conviction in 10 years], the court shall impose as a condition of probation that the person enroll in and complete, subsequent to the date of the underlying violation and in a manner satisfactory to the court, an 18-month driving-under-the-influence program licensed pursuant to Section 11836 of the Health and Safety Code or, if available in the county of the person's residence or employment, a 30-month driving-under-the-influence program licensed pursuant to Section 11836 of the Health and Safety Code, as designated by the court...")
  13. California Department of Health Care Services, An Overview of California's Driving Under the Influence Program, Nov. 2013. 
  14. Same.
  15. 9 CCR 9878-9879 [financial assistance in paying for DUI education programs in California].
  16. Same.
  17. Same.
  18. Vehicle Code 13352.4 VC -- Restricted license [including for driving to DUI school].
  19. Same.
  20. Same, subsection (g).
  21. Health and Safety Code 11837.3 (d)(1) HS – Proof of enrollment in driving-under-the-influence education program. ("Any person required to successfully complete an alcohol and other drug education and counseling program [a California DUI school] as a condition of probation shall enroll in the program and, except when enrollment is required in a program that is required to report failures to enroll to the court, shall furnish proof of the enrollment to the court within the period of time and in the manner specified by the court.")
  22. 9 CCR 9876(c) -- DUI School Attendance.
  23. 9 CCR 9876(d) -- DUI School Attendance.
  24. Same.
  25. 9 CCR 9874 -- DUI Program Participant Sobriety and Behavior.
  26. Same.
  27. Vehicle Code 13352.4(f) VC – Termination of restricted license for failure to comply with driving under the influence program requirements. ("The department shall terminate the restriction issued under this section and shall suspend the privilege to operate a motor vehicle pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1 immediately upon receipt of notification from the driving-under-the-influence program that the person has failed to comply with the program requirements. The privilege shall remain suspended until the final day of the original suspension imposed under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1, or until the date all reinstatement requirements described in Section 13352 or Section 13352.1 have been met, whichever date is later.")
  28. Health and Safety Code 11837.3 (d)(2) HS. ("An alcohol and other drug education and counseling program shall report to the court, within the period of time and in the manner specified by the court, the name of any person who fails to successfully complete the [DUI school] program.")
  29. Penal Code 978.5 PC -- Bench warrants [including for DUI probation violations such as failure to complete DUI school].
  30. California, like most states, is party to the interstate Drivers License Compact (DLC). Under this set of laws, participating states agree to treat convictions for DUI similarly, including with respect to DUI education program requirements. See Vehicle Code 15023(a)(2) VC.

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