If you're ordered to complete an alcohol program related to a DUI in Los Angeles, you're typically ordered to achieve a certain amount of months related to your DUI case.
There is a 3-month, 6-month, 9-month, 18-month, and 30-month alcohol program. There's even a 12-hour alcohol program. So, these things are all negotiable, and it depends on if your attorney suggests that you work out a plea agreement with the prosecutors. One of the things your attorney will need to discuss is whether or not you're going to have to complete an alcohol program associated with your DUI.
Typically, if you end up with a first-time DUI and there are no aggravating factors, you will be looking at the AB-541 3-month alcohol program, which is 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 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.
Often, if somebody is involved in an accident, even on a first offense, the prosecutors will want a more extended alcohol program than just a 3-month. They'll move to the 6-month or 9-month alcohol program to provide more education for that particular person.
And that's really what the alcohol programs are about when it comes to DUIs in Los Angeles — 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. Many different ramifications 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 get that completion slip, you will be okay.
Each Alcohol Program Has Its 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 requirements.
You probably would be able to miss a class or two as long as you can 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, 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.
You're looking to get 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 anymore.
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 are many dire ramifications from it. Often, 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 prison. 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 DUIs that don't require an alcohol program, but California says you have to complete a three-month alcohol program. 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 DUIs, alcohol programs, and punishment-related offenses.