One of the penalties for a DUI conviction in California requires that the defendant attend an alcohol education program for between three and nine months. The programs are often poorly run and I routinely get complaints from clients as to how they are treated in the program. I have been informed by clients that the programs often just show a movie that is loosely linked to alcohol without any other input from a counsellor. One example involves a meeting where the provider asked the "class" to sit and watch "Leaving Las Vegas". A common complaint is that program leaders like to point out how ineffective lawyers are and how hiring an attorney is a waste of money. I had a client whose charges were reduced to a "
dry reckless" and who won his DMV hearing. He was facing a one year suspension for a refusal to submit to a test. The suspension was set aside and his license returned to him. There was an accident resulting in injuries to two people in two separate cars. He was a very happy client. Part of the plea bargain was that in return for a reduction of charges, he consented to attend the alcohol program. He was very upset with the program when the program leader informed him that his lawyer had done nothing for him and that he should have just pled guilty instead.
Another common thread is that program leaders mislead people about the law. It is common for people to be told that they cannot drink alcohol while on probation, that they can be guilty of a DUI if they are a passenger in a car while intoxicated, and sometimes even if they have been drinking in public without evidence of being near a vehicle at all. All of this is nonsense.
I do my best as a Los Angeles DUI Defense Lawyer
to avoid these programs for my clients if I can. For clients who have a problem with alcohol, voluntary attendance at AA meetings or attendance at a residential or out-patient treatment facility is much more effective at dealing with the underlying problem.