If you've been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), you may need to complete drunk driving education courses, also known as DUI school or alcohol education programs. Similar to defensive driving courses, drunk driving education is most often used to reduce an offender's sentencing or penalties. Drunk driving courses are designed to educate the offender to become a more safe, responsible driver, and to reduce the likelihood that the driver will attempt drunk driving or impaired driving again in the future.
Why You Need Drunk Driving Education
If you've been convicted of a DUI, you may need to or be required to take defensive driving or alcohol education courses. They may be part of your sentencing or probation, and may help you have your driving privileges restored. In many states, alcohol education is required before your license can be returned. Some of the reasons students take DUI or drunk driving education courses include:
- Suspended sentencing arrangements or court orders
- Conditions of probation
- Reduction or elimination of DUI penalties
- Overturn license suspension
- Avoid jail time
- Reduce court fines
In addition to drunk driving education, you may be required to undergo alcohol treatment to fulfill sentencing, probation conditions, or to get your driver's license back.
Are You Eligible for Drunk Driving Education?
DUI school or drunk driving education is a lot like defensive driving courses. While many offenders will be eligible for reduction of fines and penalties by taking the courses, not all are eligible to do so. While some states have mandatory drunk driving education laws, in other states, it depends on each judge's assessment. A judge may consider the following information when deciding whether to include drunk driving education in your sentence for penalty reduction:
- How many drunk driving charges you have (if any)
- If you have previously completed drunk driving courses
- If there was an accident, the severity of the damage including death or injury
- Your blood alcohol level
Drunk Driving Courses Available
There are different levels of drunk driver education, depending on the level of severity of your offense. A 20 year old first time offender with a blood alcohol content of .085 is likely to have a shorter educational requirement than an offender with multiple DUIs and/or a serious accident. Drunk driving course levels typically include:
- First time offenders and minors: Underage offenders and those under the age of 21 typically undergo a short course, provided the blood alcohol level was below or near .10 and there were no serious factors, including death or injury. This course is about 12 hours or two days long and primarily discusses the effects of alcohol and vehicle safety.
- Second time offenders and adults: Those with more serious charges, such as second time offenders, accidents that resulted in death or serious injury, or high blood alcohol levels will be required to complete more education. These courses will be longer in length, typically about three months, and may be combined with state therapy sessions.
- Multiple and serious offenders: For offenders who have been convicted of multiple DUIs, high blood alcohol, or incidents involving death or other aggravating factors, more education and therapy is required. Programs for these offenders include both education and therapy and can last two years or more.
What You'll Learn in Drunk Driving Education Courses
Often, drunk driving courses include both an assessment and intervention. In the assessment, you will be screened to evaluate your alcohol use and its impact on your driving. In intervention, you will receive group education and counseling about alcohol and drug use and how it effects driving. This typically includes:
- The effect of alcohol on your response time and alertness
- The importance of never driving drunk or impaired
- How to avoid drunk driving situations
- How much alcohol it takes to impair your driving
Tips for DUI Offenders
If you've been convicted of a DUI, chances are it's a good idea to take a drunk driving education course. But that's not all you need to consider. We asked attorney Jared Staver to share his advice for those convicted of a DUI.
"If you been convicted of a DUI, you certainly should not drink and drive again," advises Staver. He warns that often, a second or subsequent DUI will typically come with even greater penalties in each state.
The best way to avoid another DUI is to simply not drunk and drive again. "If you have been drinking, make sure you have a designated sober driver who can take you home, or take a cab," says Staver. "The cost of a cab ride is far less than risking your life and everyone else's."
In addition to taking DUI education courses, you should also consider taking a defensive driving course. Elective defensive driving courses typically result in an insurance discount between 5% and 15%, which can help if your insurance rate has skyrocketed after receiving a DUI conviction. Defensive driving course discounts are typically offered for three years, after which you'll need to take the course again.
Staver also advises investigating whether your state allows for expungements or criminal records sealing for first-time DUIs. "Since a DUI is a criminal offense in the majority of states, a conviction will put a mark on your permanent criminal record," says Staver. "This could impact your employment (current and future), ability to rent an apartment or other property, jeopardize any professional licensures you may have or wish to acquire, or negatively impact educational opportunities."
How to Find a Drunk Driving Education Program
Ready to start your drunk driving education course? Visit our directory to learn about DUI schools in your state and their available programs for DUI offenders.