If you are convicted of drunk driving in San Diego County, you must complete a DUI program as part of your sentence. The course length will depend on how many previous DUIs you have on your record and how high your BAC was at the time of your arrest. If you have any specific questions about DUI classes, you should ask your San Diego drunk driving defense attorney, but here is a quick overview of what to expect.
How Long do You Have to Take DUI Classes?
The duration of your DUI class will vary based on the specifics of your charges, including your BAC, criminal record, and where the charges are filed. Here’s how the programs break down by length:
- 12-Hour Course: In California, 12-hour DUI classes are limited to certain drug DUI cases and those with a blood alcohol level below .07. Unless they are under 21, drivers with a BAC below .07 will typically be convicted of a wet reckless. The DMV, however, will not give a restricted license to drivers with wet reckless convictions unless they take the three-month DUI program.
- 3-Month (30 Hours) Course: Most of those convicted for a first-time DUI in San Diego have to attend a 3-month program, but those with a BAC above .15 must take a longer course.
- 6-Month (45 Hours) Course: First-time offenders caught with a BAC between .15 and .19 must take a longer course than those with lower blood alcohol levels.
- 9-Month (60 Hours) Course: Anyone who has a BAC above .20 on their first DUI or who receives a second wet reckless will need to take this class.
- 18-Month (76.5 Hours) Course: Those sentenced to a second DUI must take the 18-month class.
- 30-Month (90 Hours) Course: These programs are not required by state law, but judges sometimes assign these extra-long classes to those who have been convicted of three or more DUIs in a 10-year period or those who have a second DUI with a BAC above .20.
Note that not all counties utilize all programs. As an example, in San Diego County, there are no 6-month or 30-month-long DUI classes. Instead, first-time DUI offenders will be sentenced to a 3-month class if their BAC was at or below .19. If a first-time offender was caught with a BAC over .19 or if someone is convicted of a second wet reckless, they must go through the 9-month class. Anyone convicted of a second or subsequent DUI in San Diego must go through the 18-month-long program.
How Much do DUI Classes Cost?
The price of your DUI program will vary based not only on which course you are required to take but also on which school you choose. On average, DUI classes cost:
- $200-$300 for a 12-hour program
- $400-$850 for a 3-month class
- $750-$950 for a 6-month course
- $1,000-$1,850 for a 9-month program
- $1,550-$2,600 for an 18-month class
- Upwards of $3,000 for a 30-month course
Some providers, like the SDSU Driving Under the Influence Program, offer financial assistance programs to those who cannot afford to pay full price.
Can I do DUI Classes Online?
Unfortunately, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) does not accept any form of online-only DUI courses. If you take a DUI class advertised online, it will not be on the DMV-approved list of courses. Signing up for a class not officially sanctioned by the DMV will just end up costing you money, and it will not count towards your mandatory DUI course requirement.
There are only three DMV-authorized courses in San Diego, and, traditionally, they have been exclusively in person. However, since the pandemic started, they have offered portions of their services on Zoom or other secure video platforms. Many are moving back towards an in-person curriculum again though, and even if some of the program is available online, you typically must at least enroll in person.
Can You Take DUI Classes in Another State?
While the DUI programs officially approved by the California DHCS are only available in California, those who live out of state or have moved to a new state may obtain a judge’s permission to take a similar course near their home.
What Happens in DUI Programs?
When you attend a DUI class, you’ll receive substance abuse counseling, education about the impact of drunk driving, and information on alcohol and drug abuse. The counseling will be in both group and individual formats, while the education may include discussions, lectures, and video components. While you must attend these classes, the only part you must actively participate in is the one-on-one interviews.
You are required to stay sober at these programs, and if you are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at one of these programs, you may be asked to take a drug or alcohol screening. If you fail or refuse, you may be dropped from the program. You can also be dropped from the course if you are disruptive, sleep during the class, or are deemed a threat to another student or the instructor.
Can I Miss DUI Classes?
The court understands that people can get sick or have personal emergencies that may make it impossible for someone to attend every class of their DUI program. You are allowed to miss a certain number of sessions in each program as long as you make up the missed session later before obtaining your certificate of completion. The longer the course, the more classes you can miss before being dropped from the program. For example, if you are in a 12-hour program, you can be absent for two sessions, but if you are in a 30-month course, you can miss up to 15.
Until you complete your DUI class, you cannot obtain a restricted driver’s license from the California DMV. If you drive on a suspended license, you will violate your probation and be charged with an additional misdemeanor.
Can I Go to Jail for Not Completing DUI Classes?
If you fail to complete the DUI classes by the court-specified time frame, you will be violating probation, a warrant will be issued for your arrest, and you will need to defend yourself in a probation hearing. If you have a good reason for failing to complete your classes, for example, you had a long-term medical or family emergency, your lawyer can explain this to the court, and you may be able to avoid additional penalties. But in most cases, those who do not have a good reason for completing their DUI classes will face further penalties, up to the maximum sentence for the offense, including jail time, an extended probation period, or a longer license suspension.
How to Get out of DUI Classes
Unfortunately, if you are sentenced to a DUI education program, you must complete it or face further criminal penalties. The only way to avoid taking a drunk driving course is to successfully fight your charges in the first place. Contact a skilled DUI attorney as soon as possible after you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
If you are accused of drunk driving or have any questions about these court-ordered DUI classes, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation with top attorney Peter M. Liss.