Many drivers know that a DUI or DWI conviction will result in very harsh penalties. Possible penalties include high fines, jail time, whiskey plates, ignition interlock devices, and license suspension and revocation. The consequences can be rather extreme.
However, there is one type of penalty that is common, but you may not hear about as much. The penalty is mandatory DUI classes. The classes are important because they teach about drunk driving dangers and can help people dealing with alcohol addiction. In other words, the DUI classes re-educate drivers on the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs for the purpose of keeping it from happening again.
The Benefits of DUI Classes
What DUI classes entail depends on the state. The standard elements of DUI classes include:
• Teaching the dangers of driving under the influence
• Counseling individuals with alcohol addiction, which is sometimes mandatory anyway because a person offended. For those with an actual addiction, additional therapy or referrals to therapists may be needed.
• Professionals may prepare assessments that measure the risk of a repeat drunk driving offense. For instance, a person may have only offended once because of bad judgment. Another person may have had multiple offenses, which means there is a true problem. This information can be used to ensure proper education and that certain measures are taken to help the person not re-offend. Judges can also use assessments to increase or decrease penalties.
Everyone benefits from DUI classes because the goal is to make sure DUI offenders don’t offend again.
Length of DUI Classes
As for how long DUI classes last, the length depends on what the state has determined is best. One state may require just 12 hours, while another requires 26 hours. How many offenses a person has had can also determine the length of the class. DUI classes have their own curriculums, which also determine their length.
For offenders with multiple DUIs, there are DUI classes that can last as long as 30 months. If it is a second or third offense, the class may be divided into phases. The first phase may be the weekly sessions in which attendance is mandatory. The second phase is when the classes graduate to every other week. No two states may do this the same way.
In regard to individual class length, a class may be an hour long or it may be two hours long. Again, the state determines the length, but this can give you a good idea of what to expect.
The Cost of DUI Classes
The cost is another element of DUI classes that varies by state. The classes can cost hundreds of dollars. Because the class is mandatory, the cost is mandatory. What is paid toward DUI classes is in addition to the fines related to the DUI offense and any costs that will occur later when pursuing license reinstatement. If you are awarded limited driving privileges because of an ignition interlock device, the ignition interlock device is paid for by the offender. This shows how expensive a DUI conviction can be.
Are You Eligible for DUI Classes?
Not everyone is eligible for DUI classes. Aggravating factors can influence this. Aggravating factors include the blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the offense, if driving under the influence caused the injury or death of another person, how many previous offenses have occurred in the past, and if there was a minor child in the vehicle at the time of the offense. Past participation in DUI classes may also influence eligibility.
As always, state law determines whether a person is eligible or not. If state law doesn’t have an influence, then a judge’s discretion will. Sometimes it’s both.
If you are eligible to take DUI classes, there are certain requirements. Those requirements include:
• You must have been referred to the program by a judge.
• You must have applied for a new driver’s license after revocation due to the DUI (some states require DUI classes for license reinstatement).
• It is your responsibility to sign up for a session offered by a qualified provider.
• You must begin taking classes within a certain time period, which will be provided to you by the court.
• You may be given a referral letter that you will have to present when you attend your first class.
• You must be present.
What Happens if You Don’t Attend?
If you don’t attend the mandatory DUI classes like your referral letter states you must, any driving privileges that you may have retained will most likely be suspended. You’ll be instructed to surrender your driver’s license to an individual specified by the court. When you complete the classes, you can apply for a new driver’s license.
If your state requires you to take a longer-term class, the courts will give you a reasonable amount of time to complete the program. It isn’t always possible to attend every class, which is why you will most likely be given a deadline to complete your DUI classes. For instance, you may be given 30 days to attend 12 to 26 hours of classes.
Types of DUI Classes
The most common program is Alcoholics Anonymous or AA. Every state has AA chapters that can help individuals face their issues with alcohol and beat those issues. Many of the discussions are based on the harmful nature of drinking and what can happen when drinking and driving. The discussions are frank and eye-opening, which is why AA is so effective.
Other programs include the organizations and schools that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) have associated with. The organizations that M.A.D.D. partners with tend to focus on the personal stories of individuals who have lost friends and family members to drunk driving accidents. The groups work toward tougher DUI laws.
The National Highway Safety Commission can help you find information on treatment programs and DUI classes in your specific area so you can fulfill your mandatory class requirement.
Are Online Courses Available?
Some states are offering online DUI classes. These online courses include videos, lectures, reading materials, and quizzes that show the individual understands the material. This is more convenient for those that may have jobs that can make it very difficult to attend the classes.
It is very important to ensure that any online classes you take are accepted by the state in which you received the DUI. If you pay for and take an online class that isn’t accepted, it won’t count toward the drunk driving education requirement. Not only could this cost you money, but could affect the amount of time you have left to comply with the education mandate in your sentence. There are many companies online offering DUI classes, so read all the small print or ask the court or your attorney for a recommendation.
If you were arrested for DUI in another state, you can receive a referral from the state where you were arrested. This referral will allow you to take DUI classes in your home state. When online courses are allowed by the state of arrest, you may be able to take online courses for that state so you can meet that state’s class requirements. This may require special registration with a specific entity for that state. The information will be provided to you so you can follow through with what is required of you.
Finding a DUI Attorney
Because DUI charges are serious, it is important to hire a DUI attorney. Fighting for the best result in your case could result in you taking DUI classes instead of dealing with a more serious consequence. Then again, you could have the penalties reduced to a point that the fines aren’t as high and jail time may not need to be served. There are many possibilities.
Even if you think there is no chance for you, you may be surprised at what options are available and what strategies can be used. There is almost always a way to secure a better outcome than the maximum consequences.