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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

How Much Do DUI Classes Cost in California? | Goss Law

A DUI crime in California is a major offense with penalties ranging from hefty fines to license suspension and jail time. However, the court can also order offenders to attend DUI programs that focus on alcohol and drug education and counseling.

Depending on the nature of the crime and location, a California DUI class can last anywhere between a few weeks to 30 months. The state regulates these programs, and there are over 250 private service providers that have the necessary licenses to offer them.

The criminal defense attorneys at Goss Law have extensive experience handling DUI cases across Sacramento, California. Those who are facing such charges must reach out to them to discuss their case and learn more about their legal options.

What Is a California DUI School?

What Is a California DUI School?

When a person gets a DUI conviction, there are many different punishments that the court can award, such as license suspension, fines, and jail time.

The court or the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can also require the offender to attend DUI programs, which are often carried out by licensed service providers.

These types of programs include face-to-face DUI classes, which are mandatory for the defendant to attend if ordered by the court or the California DMV.

A DUI class aims to educate offenders on the consequences of drinking alcohol or taking drugs and driving. There are also instructors who have the necessary training to provide counseling to the participants and help them in tackling their problems.

The content taught in the classes at a DUI school revolves around alcohol and drug education and the relevant laws in California. Offenders must attend the DUI program for a certain period of time, depending on their convictions.

Are DUI Classes Mandatory for Everyone in California?

DUI classes are not mandatory for everyone. Only people convicted of the following driving offenses must attend the program in California:

  • DUI;

  • Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher;

  • Underage DUI with a 0.05 BAC;

  • "Wet reckless" conviction; or

  • Other alcohol or drug-related driving offenses.

In California, individuals convicted of a DUI may have to face severe consequences. However, if they plead guilty or "no contest" to the charges, the court may reduce their sentence to fines, license suspension, and mandatory DUI classes. This is often the case with first-time offenders.

How Long Do DUI Offenders Have to Attend the Classes?

The duration of DUI programs ranges between 12 hours and 30 months, depending on the nature of the offense, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) upon arrest, and the county of conviction.

The 12-hour DUI Program

Those offenders, who do not have a prior history of DUI convictions, often have to attend the 12-hour program as part of their "wet" reckless plea bargain.

In other words, offenders who plead guilty to their first DUI offense may receive a reduced sentence requiring them to attend two hours of DUI classes each week for six weeks.

The court may also order underage drivers (below the age of 21) to attend DUI classes if it is their first-time offense. This is also referred to as the AB 803 program.

The Three-month DUI Program

Referred to as AB 541, the court may order a DUI offender to attend the three-month DUI program if:

  • It is their first "wet" reckless conviction within a 10-year period, and

  • Their BAC was lower than 0.2% at the time of the arrest.

Under the three-month DUI program, the offenders must attend 30 hours of instruction. Depending on the service provider, there may be 10 to 15 classes, typically one every week for three months.

However, completing the 30 hours of instruction is not the only condition for the offenders to fulfill. The following are the requirements of the three-month DUI program:

  • An intake session;

  • 12 hours of alcohol and drug education sessions;

  • 18 hours of group counseling sessions; and

  • Three hours of individual one-on-one counseling sessions.

The Nine-month DUI Program

Also referred to as AB 1353, the court may order an offender to attend the nine-month DUI program if:

  • They failed to take a chemical test after their DUI arrest;

  • It is their first DUI offense with a BAC of 0.2% or higher; or

  • They pleaded guilty to their second "wet" reckless violation within the last 10 years.

Typically, the service providers break the nine-month program into multiple DUI classes that include the following:

  • 12 hours of alcohol and drug education;

  • 44 hours of group sessions; and

  • Four hours of individual interviews (15 minutes for each session).

In addition to the aforementioned classes, group sessions, and interview requirements, the offenders must also attend 36 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as part of the nine-month DUI education program.

The 18-month DUI Education Program

Also known as SB 38, the court may order a defendant to attend the 18-month DUI education program if it is their second DUI or "wet" reckless conviction. In some cases, the judge may also require third-time subsequent DUI offenders to take these classes.

The 18-month DUI program may include lectures, group discussions, and videos on alcohol and drug education. It also focuses on California DUI laws and therapy sessions that help the offenders with behavioral changes to tackle the drug or alcohol problems they are facing.

Typically, the 18-month DUI education program includes the following:

  • 52 hours of group counseling sessions;

  • 12 hours of drug and alcohol education (DUI classes, group discussions, videos, etc.);

  • Six hours of community reentry monitoring; and

  • Interviews every other week for the first 12 months.

The 30-month DUI Education Program

Also referred to as the SB 1365 program, the judge may order the defendant to attend the 30-month DUI school if the defendant pleaded guilty to their third or subsequent DUI offense or if they had a high BAC as a second-time offender.

There are a few counties that currently have the 30-month DUI education requirement, including Los Angeles County and Butte County. The two-and-a-half-year program consists of the following:

  • 78 hours of group counseling sessions;

  • 12 hours of classes, lectures, group discussions, and videos;

  • Between 120 and 300 hours of community service; and

  • Regular individual interviews.

How Much Do DUI Classes Cost in California?

The cost of alcohol and drug education programs depends on several factors, including the service provider and location.

Below are the average prices of the different programs that DUI offenders have to pay in Ventura County:

  • 12-hour alcohol and drug education program: $270

  • Three-month DUI education program: $843

  • Nine-month alcohol and drug education program: $1,851

  • 18-month DUI education program: Between $1,900 and $2,600

  • 30-month program: $3,000

Typically, DUI offenders can expect to pay between $200 and $3,000, depending on the program they must attend in California. The state does not sponsor these types of alcohol and drug education classes, and the individuals must pay these expenses out of their own pockets.

In addition to the program cost, a DUI offender may have to cover an initial down payment of around $350. It is important to note that these prices are subject to change and may vary from one location to another.

What Happens If DUI Offenders Cannot Afford to Take the DUI Education Program?

The criminal justice system understands the financial struggles individuals may face, which is why it may offer fee waivers. Those who cannot afford to pay for the alcohol and drug education classes may request a financial assessment from their service program to determine whether they are eligible for a concession.

To ensure they qualify for a fee waiver, the DUI offenders must provide documentation stating their financial situation or source of income to the service providers.

After verifying the evidence submitted, the DUI program must assess the participant's reduced fee structure.

Can the Offender Attend a DUI Class with a Suspended License?

A DUI conviction in California can lead to severe consequences, including a suspended license and the requirement to attend a DUI class. In such situations, the offender may wonder how they will take the program if they don't have a valid driver's license.

Under California Senate Bill 1046, individuals can drive with an ignition interlock device installed in their car to attend DUI school programs. They can also apply for a restricted license.

If the individual is facing a DUI conviction for the first time, they may be eligible to apply for a restricted license that would allow them to travel to and from work, school, and court-ordered DUI programs.

It can take up to 30 days to receive the restricted license from the California DMV. However, repeat DUI offenders may have to wait up to 18 months before they are eligible to apply for a restricted license.

In most cases, they will have to attend the program for the first 12 months by using public transportation or arranging other means of travel.

Those individuals who are facing a DUI conviction for driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot apply for a restricted license. Under California law, they must find alternative modes of transportation to attend the DUI class.

How Can California DUI Offenders Prove Their Enrollment to the Court or the DMV?

Those offenders, who are required to attend DUI school due to their offenses, must provide proof to the court and the California DMV that they have enrolled in the alcohol and drug education and counseling program.

There are two ways to do that, including the following:

The Certificate of Enrollment

When the judge sentences the defendant to a DUI program, the offender must provide proof of enrollment within 21 days of the judgment.

In most cases, the service providers will send the enrollment certificate to the court and the California DMV.

The Certificate of Completion

During the sentencing, the judge will also provide a timeline for the offender to complete DUI school.

Typically, the service providers will issue a certificate of completion for the participants upon attending the program and send it to the court and the California DMV.

Can the Participants Take the DUI Classes Online?

It is mandatory for participants to take DUI classes in person. There is no option for attending the alcohol and drug education program online.

However, it is important to note that during the Covid-19 pandemic, some licensed service providers received permission from the courts to conduct online DUI classes. This was an exception since the California government banned meetings and gatherings to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

If a participant is unable to attend a DUI class due to a valid reason, they can skip it as long as they are able to make up for it later on. Depending on the program, service providers have the right to terminate them if they miss a certain number of days.

What Are the Consequences of Not Completing DUI School?

There are several consequences of failing to complete DUI school, including:

  • Appearing in front of the same judge and potentially facing a jail sentence;

  • Getting arrested under a bench warrant; or

  • Being unable to drive legally in California due to license suspension.

Can a Participant Skip DUI Classes If They Live Outside the State?

If an out-of-state driver commits a DUI offense in California, they must address the charges in a Californian court. The offender must comply with the court's ruling if the judge sentences them to a DUI education program.

Typically, out-of-state offenders must complete their DUI education programs in their home state. It is important to note that the curriculum must be as comprehensive as the one provided by service providers in California. The DUI school must also meet the requirements of the California DMV.

Failure to complete a DUI school that satisfies the program standards implemented in California could result in an extension in the suspension of the offender's driver's license.

In some situations, the DUI offender may be an officer in the military who has to leave California for duty. If that is the case, they can request a leave of absence from the court for the DUI classes. However, it is important that they complete the court-ordered program upon returning.

How Many DUI Classes Can the Participant Miss?

There is a specific number of classes a participant can afford to miss, depending on the court-ordered DUI program. However, in order to receive the certificate of completion, they must make up for those missed sessions later on.

The following are the maximum number of classes a participant may be able to miss before being terminated from the DUI program:

  • Two for the 12-hour DUI program.

  • Five for the 3-month alcohol and drug education program.

  • Seven for the 9-month program.

  • 10 for the 18-month DUI program.

  • 15 for the 30-month program.

Can the California DUI School Terminate Participants from Court-ordered DUI Classes?

The California DUI school has the right to terminate participants from the court-ordered DUI programs if they:

  • Do not maintain their sobriety;

  • Fail to follow the rules of the class; or

  • Are a threat to the instructor and others attending the sessions.

How Can a DUI Attorney in California Help the Defendant?

How Can a DUI Attorney in California Help the Defendant?

An experienced DUI attorney at Goss Law in Sacramento, California, can assist the defendant in various ways, including the following:

Gathering the Necessary Evidence

DUI offenses fall under the criminal justice system, placing the burden of proof on the prosecutor. However, the defendants can provide evidence of their innocence to secure a favorable outcome.

The criminal defense attorneys at Goss Law in Sacramento, California, have extensive experience fighting DUI charges. There are multiple strategies they can employ, such as discrediting the field sobriety test or highlighting mistakes or lack of adherence to the law by the arresting officer.

At Goss Law, the legal team will assist in investigating the offense and determining the appropriate course of action. Depending on the defense strategy, the attorneys will allocate resources to gather the necessary evidence and vigorously fight for the defendant's rights.

Representing the Defendant in Court

Under California law, if the judge deems the defendant competent, they can choose to represent themselves in court without a DUI lawyer in Sacramento. However, having an experienced DUI attorney can increase the chances of case dismissal or a reduction in sentence.

The legal team at Goss Law has worked with many defendants, helping them secure favorable outcomes. They can advise on how to avoid jail time for first DUI in California. They have assisted in avoiding harsh penalties or sentences and, in some cases, even getting the cases dismissed.

Those Facing DUI Charges Can Schedule a Free Consultation with Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Today!

A DUI conviction can have severe consequences, including license suspension, jail time, and fines. It can also tarnish an individual's criminal record, adversely impacting employment opportunities, auto insurance rates, and professional relationships.

Those facing DUI charges should immediately contact (916) 999-7689 to schedule a free consultation with the skilled legal team at Goss Law. An experienced attorney can assess the case, guide them on available legal options, and protect their rights.


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