If you're ordered to complete an alcohol program related to a DUI in Los Angeles, you're typically going to be ordered to complete a certain amount of months related to your DUI case.
There is a 3-month, 6-month, 9-month, 18-month and a 30-month alcohol program. There's even a 12-hour alcohol program. So, these things are all negotiable and it really depends on if your attorney suggests that you work out a plea agreement with the prosecutors. One of the things your attorney is going to need to discuss is whether or not you're going to have to complete an alcohol program associated with your DUI.
First Time DUI AB-541 Program
Typically, if you end up with a first-time DUI and there's no aggravating factors, you're going to be looking at the AB-541 3-month alcohol program, which is basically once a week for three months. You have to pay for the course.
It's usually $20 a session and they're going to give you a list of court-approved alcohol programs that are close to where you work or live. You pick one. You provide the court with a completion slip at the end and then you're done with that requirement related to your DUI case in Los Angeles.
A lot of times, if somebody is involved in an accident, even on a first offense, the prosecutors will want a longer alcohol program than just a 3-month. They'll move to the 6-month or 9-month alcohol program in order to provide more education for that particular person.
And that's really what the alcohol programs are about when it comes to DUI's in Los Angeles — that's educating people. Educating people on what happens when you drink and drive, accidents occur and people die and then you change the whole complexion of your life because you go to prison and you lose your ability to drive. There's a whole bunch of different ramifications that can occur in these DUI cases.
So, if you're looking at doing an alcohol program, it's not the end of the world. It's more of a time issue than anything, but as long as you can fit it within your schedule and you get that completion slip, you're going to be okay.
Each Alcohol Program Has Its Own Requirements
I have a lot of people who say, what if I miss one of those classes? What's going to happen? Are they going to issue a warrant? Am I going to go to jail? The bottom line is this – each alcohol program has its own requirements.
You probably would be able to miss a class or two as long as you're able to make it up. So, really what you're doing is going within their rules and doing what they say, and if you miss a class and make it up and you talk to them about it.
As long as these guys get paid and you're cooperative with them — they're typically not going to give you any problem. They're not going to report you to the court for violating your probation, and they're going to let you complete your DUI class and move on with your life.
Really, what you're looking to get is that DUI completion certificate because then you've done what you're supposed to do and you don't have to mess around with the alcohol program any more.
I'll tell you, I've had some clients that just don't want to do the alcohol program. You can't say you blame them, but there's so many bad ramifications from it. A lot of times what courts will do is say, okay, you want to play around with the alcohol program?
You know what, I'm going to strike the alcohol program. You don't have to do it anymore. Instead, I'm ordering you to do 180 days in the county jail. Now you go to jail. You potentially lose your job. You lose your freedom. And you know what?
When you get out, you will never be able to drive again until you complete that alcohol program because the DMV will not let you have your license back unless you complete the program.
I even have people coming in from other states with DUI's that don't require an alcohol program, but California says you have to complete a three-month alcohol program for example. If you don't, you can't drive here in California. So, though California is certainly liberal in some areas, they are certainly not liberal when it comes to DUI's, alcohol programs and punishment-related offenses.