If you have just been ordered to attend DUI classes, you probably have many questions about what will be talked about, who will be there, and how long it will take. While classes and situations vary from state to state and person to person, having a general idea of what to expect from DUI classes will help you feel more confident about what you are getting into and what is expected of you.
After sentencing the next requirement is generally an alcohol and drug use assessment, and this assessment may be used to determine the duration and stipulations of your DUI classes and probation. Many first-time offenders are required to attend a short-term program that can often be completed in 1 day or a weekend, and lasts only a few hours. Offenders with a particularly high blood alcohol content at the time of arrest or multiple DUI offenses might be required to complete a long-term series of classes that span over several weeks.
In single-day classes, attendees are required to report to a class that's only a few hours in length. These short classes will cover topics such as the effects of alcohol on the body, DUI laws for your state, and usually some anecdotes about other offenders or victims of drunk driving. In many cases, attendance is the only requirement, and there are no tests or follow-up classes.
Depending on the state or the severity of the offense, a more in-depth course may be required, ranging from a few weeks to a few months. For long-term DUI classes, complete abstinence from alcohol for the duration of the classes is a common requirement. Attendees will also be expected to attend all classes on time, be prepared to submit to random drug or alcohol screening, complete homework assignments, and possibly even bring a family member to one or more classes.
Court ordered DUI classes are a serious time commitment, and scheduling preferences cannot always be accommodated. It is important to keep in mind that full compliance with all the rules and stipulations of your classes is essential. Completion of these courses is a requirement of your sentence, and failure to attend or conduct yourself satisfactorily can result in a parole violation or jail time. Because the classes may be scheduled during the suspension of your driver's license, arranging transportation well in advance is important. Once completion of the classes is verified by your parole officer, you have satisfied the requirements of your court order.
Short-term DUI classes will give you the knowledge you need to recognize situations that could lead to a DUI and the tools you can use to avoid putting yourself in that situation again. Long-term classes will expand the scope of the short-term classes, and in addition to covering the effects of alcohol on the body, will also discuss other illegal drugs as well as addiction and recovery in general. Representatives from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) will speak to the group and give information to attendees about how their respective programs work, and how to find a nearby chapter. For offenders with serious addiction problems, this can be the first step to getting help that can last for a lifetime.
You may have heard speculation from others about what your DUI classes will entail, or perhaps gotten some firsthand information from a previous attendee, but it is important to keep in mind that the program you take and the experience you have may be different. Expecting to show up and watch the clock from the back of the room is usually not a good idea, as full attentive participation is expected. Special consideration for the circumstance of your offense is also not likely to go far, as the professionals who instruct these classes have a low tolerance for special pleading and will expect results, even from first time offenders. This is not to say that you should expect the worst either, because if you are engaged in the discussion and participate earnestly, not only can you learn something about yourself, but you may save yourself from having to attend any future DUI classes.
Matt Allex lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition to writing, he scratches his creative itch by performing improv comedy, acting at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. He also pursues interests in skepticism, science, horror films, and comic books.