What Constitutes as DUI Education in California?
One penalty that all DUI offenders will face in some form is participation in a driving-under-the-influence or alcohol treatment program. Guidelines for sentencing DUI crimes in California include sections that explain the details of these programs. Driver education is an important step in preventing repeat offenders. The more people are aware of how dangerous their actions are, the less likely they are to repeat their past behavior. When a driver is a repeat offender, often drug or alcohol counseling is needed. For these reasons, California courts have adapted mandatory education programs for all DUI offenders.
Sections 11836 and 11837of California's Health and Safety Code lays out the specifics on what these programs can be. First time offenders will likely face a DUI information class whereas repeat offenders will be required to undergo chemical dependency treatment. These programs often take months to complete and will cost you money in fees and travel expenses. In order to help with these costs, you are given the option of participating in a program either in the county where the violation took place or in the county in which you reside.
California Driving-Under-The-Influence Education
When a person is convicted for a first time DUI offense under vehicle section code 23152 or 23153, California courts want to make sure they understand the dangers of their actions. That is why all first time offenders must complete a program that includes activities such as education, counseling and individual interviews. The length of time one must enroll in these programs depends on how much alcohol was in your system at the time of your arrest. The legal limit for drivers over 21 in California is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08. Anything over .15 is considered to be high. Drivers with a very high BAC will be subject to more education:
- First time offender with a BAC under .20: At least 3 months of enrollment that requires at least 30 hours of activities
- First time offender with a BAC over .20: At least 9 months of enrollment that requires at least 60 hours of activities
As you can see, this is a significant amount of time for a first offender. Sentences for repeat DUI offenses are even more severe. If a person is convicted of DUI and already has a prior DUI conviction or reckless driving conviction on their record, they could face mandatory enrollment in alcohol or drug treatment programs.
For most repeat offenses, long periods of incarceration are recommended in sentencing guidelines. In many cases, the offender can get probation and avoid serving the full time. There are conditions to the probation, however, and this can include enrollment in a DUI education program.
For a repeat offender, as a condition of probation, an offender may have to complete a substance abuse treatment program lasting 18 or even 30 months. Program completion is often required before a license can be reinstated even after the sentenced license suspension period is fulfilled. The court requires that these programs begin after the violation so any program that has already been completed or that was in progress before the violation will not be counted.
Penalties for Failing to Comply
During the course of your treatment, your program's directors will be asked to submit progress reports to the court so that your completion can be tracked. If you fail to meet the demands required by your program, you will be hit with penalties and will have to complete the program again.
If, for any reason, an offender does not complete the DUI program that they were sentenced to, they will face probation revocation and will not be able to get their license returned until this requirement is satisfied. If you do not enroll in a program at all, your probation will also be revoked.
Your attorney can work with you to help you find a program that fits your needs and meets the court's requirements and that is easy for you to commute to. If you cannot afford enrollment financial assistance may be available through some programs.
Alternative Sentencing in California
There is one other option for people who do not want to complete a court ordered DUI program. Under California vehicle code section 23598, you can instead enter a full time rehabilitation facility. The requirements for such include are defined by Penal Code Section 8001:
a) Participants live full time at the program site and receive room and board, and all necessary support at no cost to the participant.
(b) All necessary support shall include reasonable medical,dental, psychological, and legal services, counseling, entertainment,clothing, academic, life-skills, and interpersonal education,vocational training, rehabilitation, transportation, and recreation activities.
(c) Neither the directors nor the officers of the program shall be compensated in any manner other than the manner in which the participants of the program are compensated.
(d) The program shall not be operated with any public funds.
If the program director verifies to the court that you are enrolled at their institution, you will not be required to enroll in a DUI program and your obligation will be fulfilled upon your discharge. For people struggling with addition, this may be the best option. Unfortunately, not all offenders are in a position where they can afford such programs.