Alcohol programs are part of virtually all plea deals for defendants who have driven under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. The programs are provided by court approved providers but are not free. Everyone convicted of driving under the influence should be referred to their county alcohol-assessment program. (Veh. Code § 23646.) The program monitors their addiction and need for rehabilitation. A defendant may, if they can afford to, be ordered to pay a $50 alcohol assessment fee. (Veh. Code § 23645.)
Under Vehicle Code § 23538, first time DUI defendants must complete the first-conviction program. This program ranges from three to 12 months and typically includes both education and chemical dependency group meetings.
There are four main programs:
AB 541 is a 3 month program. Everyone convicted of a first-time DUI in California is required by law to attend and complete this class, which involves 30 hours of classes. The classes meet twice per week. Participants hear lectures, watch videos, and participate in group discussions. Each school structures its own classes. Some have better reputations than others.
AB 762 is a six month program. This is the mandatory minimum for those convicted of a DUI with .20 % or greater blood alcohol. (Veh. Code § 23538(b)(2).)
AB 1353 is a nine month program. A first time DUI offender whose concentration of blood alcohol was .20 % or greater and who refused to take a chemical test will be ordered to participate in this program, which consists of at least 45 hours of program activities, including education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions. (Health and Safety Code § 11837(c)(2).)
SB 38 is sometimes called “Multiple Driving Under the Influence Program.” It is an 18 month program which entails 52 hours of group counseling, 12 hours of alcohol and drug education, 6 hours of community reentry monitoring, and biweekly interviews during the first year of the program. This program is intended to educate second and subsequent DUI offenders.