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Can I Take DUI School Online in California?

Getting arrested for a DUI can cause a great deal of inconvenience, even before you are even convicted of a crime. Just the arrest is enough for you to have your license suspended, even if you are later found not guilty. The state of California comes down hard on anyone accused of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. The consequences of a DUI can take weeks or months to clear up before you can get back to your normal life. 

Before trying to take on the court system on your own, it is important to understand just how much time and money a drunk driving conviction can cost. A DUI may mean higher insurance rates, fines and court costs, costs to get your license reinstated, mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) installation, and weeks of DUI school. Before taking a plea deal, find out about your other options. Contact an East Bay DUI lawyer to help you avoid a criminal record. 

DUI Penalties and Consequences

Other misdemeanor offenses in California may come with a fine and possible jail time. The state of California treats drunk driving arrests differently, with a combination of penalties and consequences that are intended to make drivers think twice about getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks. Unfortunately, California DUI penalties can unfairly punish people who did not commit a crime but are unaware of their legal rights to fighting the charges. 

In addition to fines and possible jail time, the possible consequences of a DUI include criminal, administrative, and financial penalties, including: 

DUI School for California DUIs

DUI school is an education and counseling program that is intended to reduce the recidivism rate of drunk driving. According to the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), the objectives of these DUI programs are: 

  • To provide participants an opportunity to address problems related to the use of alcohol and/or other drugs; and
  • To reduce the number of repeat DUI offenses by persons who complete a state-licensed DUI program.

The specific program may depend on what DUI charges you may be facing. In general, DUI program options for drivers arrested for a DUI in California include: 

  • 12-hour Wet Reckless Program
  • 30-hour First Offender Program
  • 60-hour First DUI (High BAC) Program
  • 18-month 2nd DUI Program 
  • 30-month 3rd DUI Program

Can I Take DUI School Online?

There are so many opportunities to take classes online for a variety of courses. You can get a college degree completely online. You can take traffic school online. Unfortunately, you still CANNOT take California DUI school online. According to DHCS:

DHCS does not license ANY internet DUI programs. DUI classes offered via the internet DO NOT meet California's DUI Program requirements. Please contact DHCS if you have additional questions.”

If you search online for California DUI school, you may see a number of ads that promise “DUI school, completely online,” or “online DUI classes that satisfy court requirements.” Before you click on these ads, save some time and only look for qualifying DUI school programs that meet California's DUI program requirements. A listing of local DUI school programs should be available from the Alameda County Court or Contra Costa County Courthouse. 

Why Do I Need to Take DUI School In Person?

Why do you need to take DUI school in person when you can read the materials online, watch videos online, and even participate in group discussions with a live video feed? The DUI programs are not limited to just education requirements. The First Offender Program consists of a 3-month, 30-hour alcohol and drug education and counseling program. 

The 30-hour program consists of educational classes, group counseling, and individual counseling. This requires more than just showing up in person. Attendees are generally required to participate and maintain program sobriety. If someone shows up and the program provider suspects the attendee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will be asked to leave and will be reported. 

Attendees are also required to show up on time and for a minimum number of classes. Showing up late will likely result in being barred from the class, to be made up at a later date. If a participant misses too many classes, they will not be able to complete the program and will have to start the program all over again. For a 3-month program, the maximum number of absences is 5 classes. 

Can I Take DUI School Online During COVID?

The California criminal court system made some drastic changes during COVID. In the beginning, the courts were completely shut down. Then the courts began to reopen with remote hearings and trials. In March 2020, DHCS issued a notice on DUI programs during COVID-19. Even with no clear protocols, most DUI programs suspended all in-person services in response to COVID-19

The DUI programs were supposed to take a number of steps, including communicating the changes to participants, the public, and the county and state. Some DUI programs provided services under telehealth services, including programs in Hayward, Newark, Pittsburg, Walnut Creek, and Brentwood. These DUI school programs provided limited services, including delivering video-conference telehealth sessions for the education classes. However, only some programs were available to be completed via video conference. 

Starting in 2022, things mostly returned to normal. If the judge requires you to attend DUI school as part of probation to get your driver's license reinstated, you will generally have to attend all the required classes in person. If you have any questions about qualifying DUI school programs and how you can complete the program as quickly as possible and get your license back, talk to your East Bay DUI defense attorney for help.

Experienced DUI Defense Attorney 

Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of East Bay DUI defense experience and understands the penalties involved with first offense DUI charges. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success to keep her clients out of jail. If you are facing drunk driving charges anywhere in Alameda County or Contra Costa County, contact Lynn Gorelick. 

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