SB38 – California DUI School for Repeat Offenders

An SB 38 program (“SP”) is an alcohol awareness class (DUI school) that drivers must complete when they receive a second DUI conviction within 10 years of:

The program is sometimes referred to as the “18-month second-time DUI offender program.” People convicted of a first-time DUI in California will be ordered to complete the shorter 90-day AB541 DUI class.

Note that the second DUI charge that mandates the program can be for either:

Title 9 of the California Health and Safety Code sets forth the minimum curriculum for all SB 38 programs. In general, an SP must include (at minimum):

  • education classes,
  • group sessions,
  • “extensive” group sessions, and
  • individual interviews.

As to the education classes in an SP, their primary focus is on California DUI laws, drug abuse, “problem” drinking, and the DUI court process.

An SB 38 class is an 18-month outpatient program and involves a total of 76.5 hours of mandated classes and course work.

If a driver is ordered into this class, attendance and completion will be a condition of the driver's DUI probation. A failure to complete the SP means a violation of this probation and the violator would then have to attend a probation violation hearing.

Offenders are expected to maintain sobriety while participating in a California court-ordered DUI school.

Upon successful completion of an SB 38, a participant is given a certificate of completion and documentation recording program fulfillment. The person then provides these documents to either:

  • the court, or
  • the DMV

as proof of program completion.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

man holding an alcoholic drink while looking down
An SB 38 program (“SP”) is an alcohol awareness class that drivers must complete when they receive a second DUI conviction within 10 years of: a prior DUI, or a wet reckless conviction.

1. Who must attend a California SB 38 program?

A driver will be required to attend an 18-month second-time DUI offender program if he receives a second DUI conviction within 10 years of:

  1. a prior DUI, or
  2. a wet reckless conviction.

Drivers must attend this alcohol awareness school regardless of whether they were convicted of, or pled guilty or “nolo contendere” to their second DUI charge. This includes a charge of either:

2. What is the purpose of the program?

An SP is designed to stop a repeat offender from receiving even more DUIs. It attempts to accomplish this goal by:

  1. identifying the source of the offender's habitual behavior, and
  2. guiding him through the recovery process.
adult dui class
The curriculum is set by the health department of the respective county and can include classes

3. What does an SB 38 include – classes, sessions, meetings?

Title 9 of the California Health and Safety Code sets forth the minimum curriculum for an SP. Please note, though, that the health department in each California county can add additional classes and meetings to these minimum requirements.

In general, an SB 38 must include (at minimum):

  • education classes – a combination of lectures and film (six classes are required, and each is two hours),
  • group sessions – groups meet every other week for the first 12 months (26 sessions are required, and each is two hours),
  • “extensive” group sessions – these meet once a month for the final six months of the program (six sessions are required, and each is one hour),
  • individual interviews – interviews meet alternate weeks for the first 12 months of the program (26 meetings are required, and each is 15 minutes).1

Please note that the education component above consists of education on California DUI laws, drug abuse, and “problem” drinking. This education can be given in the form of:

  • live lectures,
  • videos, and/or
  • group discussions.

Also note that the repeat-offender 18-month DUI school does include a "community reentry monitoring" element. This helps to transition the driver back into "normal" life.

The monitoring consists of help moving away from the rigorous California DUI school requirements and into self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. During this time, the program provider may also help the participant with job placement, if necessary.

4. How long does an SB 38 last?

An SP is an 18-month long program and involves a total of 76.5 hours of mandated classes and course work.

5. What are the consequences if a person fails to complete a program requirement or drops out of the program?

If a driver is ordered into this class, attendance and completion will be a condition of the driver's DUI probation. A failure to complete the program means a violation of this probation and the violator would then have to attend a probation violation hearing.

SB 38 participants are allowed a few absences. However, they must make these up before being issued a certificate of completion.2

If a person exceeds the set number of absences, he will be dropped from the SP.

Please also note that a participant can be dropped from a California DUI school program if:

  • he/she is disruptive to the class,
  • he/she sleeps during class, or
  • the instructor believes the participant poses a threat to the instructor or any other student(s).3

6. Must school attendees remain sober during the program?

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

  • require the participant to undergo a breathalyzer or other chemical screening, or
  • expel the participant from the class and drop him/her from the program.4

7. What happens after program completion?

Upon successful completion of an SB 38, a participant is given a certificate of completion and documentation recording program fulfillment. The person then provides the same to either:

  • the court, or
  • the DMV

as proof of program completion.

Have you been ordered to attend an SB 38 program following a second DUI charge in California? Call us for help…

california dui legal experts
Call us at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know is being ordered to attend an SB 38 because of a second California DUI charge, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.

(For similar information on DUI schools in Nevada, please visit our article on: "DUI School" in Nevada: How it Works.)


Legal References:

  1. California Department of Health Care Services, An Overview of California's Driving Under the Influence Program, Nov. 2013.

  2. 9 CCR 9876(c) -- DUI School Attendance.

  3. 9 CCR 9874 -- DUI Program Participant Sobriety and Behavior.

  4. 9 CCR 9874 -- DUI Program Participant Sobriety and Behavior.

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