Getting a DUI will result in many consequences. Even a first-time DUI offense will result in a fine, a suspended license, an order to complete a DUI education program, jail time, and potentially an order to install an Ignition Interlock Device in any vehicle you drive or operate. To have your license reinstated, you will also have to submit an SR-22 filing with the California DMV and pay a reinstatement fee. If you injured or killed anyone while driving under the influence, you may also be ordered to pay restitution to any victims. Subsequent DUI offenses will result in harsher consequences. Additionally, first-time DUI offenders do not have the option to go through a diversion rehabilitation program to avoid a conviction, like some controlled substance offenders do. So, if you get a DUI, expect to face serious consequences and have a lot on your plate.
One of the most time-intensive consequences of getting a DUI is the order to complete a DUI education program, also called an alcohol education program. These programs can last anywhere from three months to 30 months which will depend on the facts and circumstance of your case. These programs also come at a cost to you, although if you cannot afford the course you may be able to apply for a reduced fee. DUI education programs involve several different components aimed at "rehabilitating" the offender so they do not become repeat offenders. Because they take a rehabilitation approach, these education programs act in some ways as drug and alcohol abuse therapy. While these programs take a group-orientated classroom approach to rehabilitation, they are taught by certified counselors. These are typically drug and alcohol abuse counselors with special training to conduct DUI education classes. It is important to note here that the counseling component of DUI education programs is typically done in a group environment. You may have one-on-one sessions as well, but most of the counseling will be done with other DUI offenders. The lengthier programs for those with multiple DUI offenses involve more intensive counseling sessions and can include individual sessions. Group counseling in a DUI course will take a two-pronged approach; counselors will facilitate learning about alcohol abuse in general and how alcohol abuse has affected the participants' life in particular. The programs can also include a community service component as well as traditional classroom learning type exercises.
Remember, if you have been ordered to complete a drug and alcohol program as a part of your DUI sentencing, make sure you take the classes that will fulfill your sentencing requirements. A state-licensed provider must administer your program. Either the California DMV or the court will order you to complete one of these programs. Refer to the order to ensure you are enrolling in a program that will satisfy the requirements in your order. Generally, online programs are not state-licensed and thus cannot fulfill the requirements. Program lengths vary based on your charge, how high your blood alcohol concentration was, and how many prior DUI offenses you have on your record. You will be ordered to attend three months of classes if you are a first-time DUI offender, however if your BAC was particularly high, you could be ordered to attend six or nine months of classes. Second time DUI offenders will be ordered to complete 18 months of classes and third or subsequent offenders will be ordered to complete 30 months of classes. These are just the minimum orders; you may be ordered to take more classes under certain circumstances.
Keep in mind that although your DUI education classes will focus on group counseling sessions, you may still be ordered to attend individual therapy sessions as part of your sentencing. This is especially true with repeat offenders, those who caused serious injury or death as a result of driving under the influence, or those with child custody cases at stake. The classes ask offenders to reflect upon their actions and behavior, identify ways they can make lifestyle changes to address their negative actions and behavior, and learn how to abstain from drugs and/or alcohol, much of the same things a counselor would ask you do to. Successful completion of your DUI classes or therapy may be a part of your probation terms so it is important to take them seriously and fulfill your course requirements.
Are you or a loved one facing DUI charges? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in DUI defense, our Visalia area legal team can ensure you take the right steps toward having a strong defense. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and will fight for your rights in court. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.