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Top Ten Tips > Getting Your License Back After a DUI

4. DUI Classes

What is DUI Class?

If you are convicted of a DUI in Mendocino County or anywhere else in California, you will likely be ordered to complete a California-licensed drinking driver DUI Program ("DDP"), now simply called the "DUI Program." The best Mendocino County DUI attorneys will explain to you that the DUI program is a series of once-per-week, two to three-hour classes consisting of an "Education Curriculum" with videos, lectures and group discussions including resource materials on DUI law, court requirements, substance abuse and problem drinking. Extended programs for higher alcohol levels or multiple DUI convictions include additional individual and group counseling as well as community re-entry activities.

Classes are typically held morning, afternoon and evening most days of the week; usually the DUI program will allow you to pick the day of the week and the time of day, and attend that same class weekly until completion. The court is required to order DUI program enrollment and completion in nearly all DUI cases (see "Court Probation" in Tip #6 in this section of Mendocino County DUI Lawyer: Easing the Consequences of a DUI). Your Ukiah DUI lawyer should tell you that timely enrollment (typically within 21 days of a DUI conviction) and completion is required by the court in order to avoid an arrest warrant for failure to comply with sentencing orders after a case is over, and also required separately by DMV in order to regain driving privileges at the earliest opportunity.

Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Marin counties each have only one DDP. Usually DDPs have a waiting list to enroll, so if you wait too long then your required suspension period will be longer than necessary. If you are arrested for driving on a suspended license due to a DUI, typically the penalty risk is severe and expensive including a 10-day minimum jail sentence and loss of restricted work or hardship driving privileges.

Online DUI Program Classes


Before the 2020 COVID pandemic, online classes were generally unavailable to California residents. An awesome Ukiah DUI lawyer like Jake was able to obtain a rare online DUI program allowance from the court for certain kinds of cases or clients in certain situations (see, principally, "Non-California Residents" at the end of this discussion), but the California DMV did not recognize online DUI program enrollment or completion for purposes of reissuing a driver license following a DMV suspension due to a DUI conviction, and since most people prioritize getting their license back, the online program was not an option in most cases.


However, since the closing of DUI programs and the first re-openings following the onset of the 2020 COVID pandemic, a number of specifically licensed online DUI programs have been approved by the California DMV. Be sure to confirm a DUI program is licensed by the state of California and approved by the California DMV to provide DUI license suspension relief upon enrollment and completion, or else a license suspension might not be lifted. Click here for a partial list of known and Local Licensed Online DUI Programs (rev. 7/2020), and here for a listing of all California Licensed DUI Programs.

Program Lengths

First Offenders Six-Week Wet Reckless Program (SB 1176): 12 hour Education Program. Note that this program does not qualify most drivers for early restricted license privileges (See Veh. Code Sections 13353.7, 23538(b)) unless, per Veh. Code Section 13353.2(e), your Mendocino DUI attorney also wins the separate DMV administrative hearing (Veh. Code Section 23103.5(e)).

First Offenders Three-Month DUI Program (AB 541): 30 hours Education Program and Group Counseling. This is the most common DUI program ordered for first offense Mendocino County DUI convictions (Veh. Code Section 23538(b)(1), H&S Code Section 11837(c)(1)).

First Offenders Extended Six-Month DUI Program (AB 762): 45 hours Education Program and Group Counseling. Many counties require this intermediate extended first offense DUI program for cases where alcohol levels were alleged at or above 0.15% (Veh. Code Section 23578).

First Offenders (and Multiple Offense Wet Reckless Offenders) Extended Nine-Month DUI Program (AB 1353): 60 hours Education Program and Group Counseling. This program is typically ordered for first offense refusal cases (refused to give chemical sample at time of arrest), or first offense cases where alcohol levels were alleged at or above 0.20%, and for Mendocino DUI cases with prior offenses alleged where the new case resolves as a "Wet Reckless" (Veh. Code Section 23538(b)(2), 23103.5(f)(1), H&S Code Section 11837(c)(2)).

Multiple Offenders 18-Month DUI Program (SB 38): 78 hours Education Program and Group Counseling. The Group Counseling component of the program combines 52 hours of weekly group process sessions with individual interviews every other week. The final six-month phase of the program consists of the Community Re-entry component with one-hour group sessions once per month and four hours per month of community re-entry activity. This is the most common DUI program ordered for multiple offense Mendocino County DUI convictions (in other words, new DUI case with prior DUI conviction(s) within 10 years of new arrest--10 year period measured from arrest date of old case to arrest date of new case). (Veh. Code Section 23542(b)(1)).

Multiple Offenders 30-Month DUI Program (SB 1365): 30-months of Education Program and Group Counseling. This program is offered in very few counties (not Mendocino County or any other North Bay county) and may be a significant alternative to increased jail time in certain multiple offense DUI cases (Veh. Code Section 23548(b)).

Client Comment: Jake, at enrollment they told me to sign up for the 9-month class because my alcohol levels were above .20%, and the DMV might not give me back my license after 30 days if I don't sign up for the longer class required by DMV, but after sentencing you told me to sign up for the shorter class. What should I do? Jake's Reply: DUI program "counselors" often believe that it's up to the DMV which class you take, but the law authorizes the Court to make the decision which class is required for first offenders, not the DMV. In your case I was able to get the high blood alcohol allegation dismissed and the shorter class ordered, so even though your counselor says it would be safer to take the longer (more expensive) class, he is absolutely wrong in your case. Following his advice would have landed nearly twice as much money for the DUI program, and cost you three times the number of classes, so I'm glad you checked with your friendly Mendocino DUI lawyer before following his directions.

Timing is critical to getting your driving privileges back. Be sure you are eligible for your license to be returned on the first possible day. Typically, the best way to do this is sign up immediately for drinking driver program classes ("DDP") once a suspension begins. Click here for Mendocino County's DUI Programs, or here for Napa's DUI Program, or here for Marin's DUI Program, or here for Sonoma County DUI Program information.

The Restricted License

As discussed in Tips #1 and #2 above, if you had a valid California license prior to this Mendocino County incident, and you are age 21 or older, and you have never been arrested or suspended for an alcohol- related driving incident before, and there is no allegation that you refused to give a breath or blood sample at the time of Mendocino County arrest, then in most cases you may obtain a restricted IID breath machine license immediately, or a "work" license (allows driving to, from, and in the course of employment, and to and from the DUI program classes) in a misdemeanor DUI case after the first 30 days of the DMV suspension, once Ukiah DDP has confirmed with Sacramento DMV (by transmitting a Form DL 107) that you are already enrolled in DDP classes, an IID breath machine has been installed, and you have an SR-22 insurance document (see "insurance" in tip #3 above) on file with the DMV. Once you complete the DUI program, the Ukiah DDP will confirm completion with Sacramento DMV by sending a Form DL 101), and assuming a valid SR22 and no other stops or suspension issues, a full unrestricted license is the final resolution.

Mendocino DUI Program

Enroll In Your Own County Of Residence

If you live or work in a county other than Napa, talk to your lawyer or the DDP program about transferring to the most convenient program, such as Santa Rosa, Napa, San Rafael, Vallejo, or one of many programs in San Francisco. Typically every county has at least one licensed program, and many counties have more than one program.

You can find early contact information on this site by clicking on Resources and then under "DUI Compliance" click on one of the DUI Program links. Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Solano, Mendocino and all the state-licensed DDPs are listed. You may also use the tool below.

Ford Street ProjectBe Prepared

Be prepared and know what you're doing. In Mendocino County you must sign up in Ukiah, Willits or Fort Bragg within 21 days of sentencing if you have not already done so. Take all of your papers when you go to enroll. Take a check for the initial fee. Before you enroll, ask your Ukiah DUI attorney which program length is correct, rather than relying on information or "advice" from the DUI program staff. You may risk DMV rejecting re-licensing or other bureaucratic messes by enrolling in the wrong DUI program without competent legal advice from a Mendocino County DUI lawyer. You must start classes within 21 days of enrollment. 9 CCR 9848 Monthly payments may be made on the DUI program fee. Be sure to keep your Payment Receipt. Programs are required to offer a sliding scale for fees depending on ability to pay. 9 CCR 9879.

Client comment: "Jake, I survived DUI class initiation. It's kinda funny that they said everything you said they would; it was scary. I thought a few times that they were going to deny me."

Client comment: "As you said would happen, when I went to sign up for the DUI classes I was told it didn’t matter how the court ruled in my case, it is what the DMV has as my BAC when I was arrested that matters...I just told the social worker I would check it out and only signed up for the three-month course." Jake replies: In this client's case, the DUI program was absolutely wrong in its interpretation of applicable law, and, coincidentally, would have collected more money from my client if he had followed the misleading advice from the program official rather than the correct advice from his DUI lawyer.

Client comment: "Thanks for the letter and the instructions on how to proceed. I went to my DUI orientation class yesterday...I believe I was the only person in a the very full room who had not lost their license. I sat next to a woman with a heavy Russian accent who told me a bit of her story. At the end I concluded that either [a] she had been taken advantage of and had a truly terrible lawyer, or [b] she was lying convincingly. I gave her your name in case it was the former but she said that it was a done deal. There were lots of people who asked questions indicating that they had been misinformed or underinformed by their lawyers. The DUI Program staff people stated repeatedly that DUI lawyers don't know the law around this and call them with questions every day. I have to say, I knew the right answers to any questions that pertained to my own situation, though I did not offer this information. Thanks for helping me through this. I have not yet but will definitely write a recommendation for you to post on your incredible website if you like. Your resource lists and links are so extensive and detailed, they would make a social service agency proud."

Be sure you can supply your Mendocino County superior court case number, and a Form H-6 driver license history which you can obtain for a nominal fee at the DMV prior to enrollment (always make copies to leave at home). You should be permitted to enroll as long as you bring these materials or a court minute order sentencing document. (see, State Letter Re: Enrollment Documents). If you hired a Mendocino County DUI defense lawyer to handle your DMV hearing, then typically the Santa Rosa DMV already sent a copy of your H-6 printout to your DUI lawyer and you may ask him/her for a free copy. If there are further questions about your ability to enroll, call your DUI attorney while you are still at the DDP so that you can minimize stress and inconvenience.

Client comment: "After that they gave me a hard time about where I got my "H6" form and acted like it wasn't good enough. In the end, it worked. (I used the DMV record you emailed with my case # written on it). They were somewhat flexible on the schedule. For somebody like me it sucks no matter what... at least it will be over in 10 weeks. They also pushed out my first class a bit to help assure I'd have my restricted license to get me to and from the classes on my own. I just wanted to let you know, so you could share with other clients who may ask specific questions."

Ability to Pay Program Fees

DUI programs are notorious for failing to offer financial needs assessments even though they are required to do so.

Client comment: I told them I couldn't afford the $550 fee, and the lady said "you are required to pay this down payment of $200, and just let us know if you think you'll be late on the rest; we can work something out."

Client comment: I told them what you said about a sliding scale, but the counselor told me there is no such program unless I'm pregnant.

You cannot be denied participation in a DUI program just because you can't pay. This is so because completion of the DUI program is required by the court to comply with its orders, and by DMV to re-obtain your driver license, and it wouldn't be fair if such requirements could only be satisfied by those who can afford it. Programs are required to post a notice at each location at which program services are provided, in a location visible to all participants and to the general public, informing them of the option to request a financial assessment to determine ability to pay.

The specific government regulation covering this area is contained in 9 CCR 9879, which states that "The program shall not deny services to a participant if, based on the results of a financial assessment, the program determines that the participant is unable to pay..." Note that there is a minimum fee of $5 per month, and the program may charge you regular fees up to the time that you asked for the assessment (assuming they are complying with these rules).

If you have asked for a financial assessment, and provided the required proof of income/inability to pay, and you feel that the review by your program was not fair or adequate, then you may request a review by the department that regulates these programs: "A participant may request the Department to review a financial assessment conducted by the program, in accordance with this regulation. To do so, the participant shall submit a written request to the Driving-Under-the-Influence Program Branch, Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, 1700 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814."

Schedule Of Classes

The DUI programs in Mendocino County typically consists of two hours of class and two hours of movies for at least 6 weeks (classes can extend to 12 weeks or 9 or 18 months depending on type of conviction) much of which can be compressed into less weeks if participant and program scheduling allow. Some programs are more flexible than others, and most offer daytime and late afternoon/evening schedules.

Typical First Offender Class Schedule. Various programs offer various schedules. The Sonoma County schedules listed below provide some examples of what you might expect in Mendocino County: First Offender Class Schedules.

Click here to see typical examples of a standard first offender DUI program:

Sample #1 For 3-Month Class Schedule (Weds Eve)

Sample #2 For 3-Month Class Schedule (Weds Late Aft)

Sample #3 For 3-Month Class Schedule (Fri Late Aft)

Sample #4 For 3-Month Class Schedule (Thurs Late Aft)

Click here for examples of a typical extended first offender 9-Month Class Schedule (Weds/Fri Eve) for first offenders with over .20% blood alcohol or refusal cases; or the first year of a typical multiple offender 18-Month Class Schedule (Thurs/Fri Eve).

Missed Classes

Approved absences are permitted: 2 for wet reckless program, 5 for first offender program, 7 for the extended first offender program, and 10 for the multiple offender programs. 9 CCR 9876. Absences must be made up prior to completion of the program. Participants may submit prior written requests for absences (unless unable to do so) for any of the following reasons: military service, work requiring travel, personal or family illness, incarceration, recovery, personal or family extreme hardship, or vacation. 9 CCR 9876.5.

Follow the Rules; You Can't Afford to be Terminated

The DUI program may dismiss participants for a variety of alleged failures set out in 9 CCR 9886. Although the some of the Mendocino drinking driver programs will normally work with you on necessary absences if you contact the program in a timely fashion (i.e. prior to the absence), still, the Mendocino County DUI programs and the rules they enforce can be tough. You must show up on time (they often close their doors at start time and do not allow late attendance). You will be turned away or your enrollment terminated if you have alcohol on your breath or are otherwise under the influence. However enrollment at the Ukiah, Willits or Fort Bragg office, and completion of their whole program, is mandatory to return your driving privileges to normalcy, so you should be prepared to follow the rules and meaningfully participate.


If you are terminated from a Mendocino DUI program, you should receive a termination letter. For example if it is alleged that you failed to attend or contact the program, then you may receive a Non-Contact Termination Letter from the Mendocino DUI program, or if you are terminated for having alcohol on your breath (9 CCR 9874), then you may receive a Sobriety Failure Termination Letter. In most cases, these letters are also transmitted to the court where a Judge will decide whether to call you in for a possible violation of probation or other action. Typically, the DUI program will simultaneously transmit to DMV a Dl 101a Notice Of Non-Compliance, which, in turn generally results in a DMV "Order of Suspension" Letter, etc. Contact your Mendocino DUI attorney promptly to see about a re-referral, especially if this is your second or higher DUI. Rules on re-referrals vary among counties.

Lucky Deuce DUI Program Policies And Decisions May be Challenged

Mendocino County DUI lawyers understand that many DUI program staff and administrators are not as informed about applicable laws and regulations as they think they are; some of the most stubborn operators and staff have been encountered in North Bay DUI programs, but their often rigid practices and decisions may be modified or reversed by DUI lawyer intervention, sometimes with assistance from state regulators required to formally explain correct practices to intransigent programs. For example, according to 9 CCR 9876.5, you and your Ukiah DUI lawyer may be able to provide proof to the Mendocino County DUI program of a legitimate qualifying absence and apply for a retroactive leave of absence (prior to two years from the date of your last attendance (9 CCR 9886(f)), where the Mendocino County DUI program can correct a wrongful (or mistaken) termination and reinstate you in good standing with the DMV and court without you having to return to court. The state agency listed below may be contacted by your Ukiah DUI lawyer if the Mendocino County DUI Program is unresponsive in such a situation. Click here to see a list of the Regulations Governing DUI Programs, and here to see applicable Health And Safety Code Sections 11836-11838.

DUI programs are accountable in court, where their decisions may be challenged, and at the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), Substance Use Disorder Compliance Division, Driving-Under-the-Influence (DUI) Unit, which licenses and performs compliance monitoring on all DUI programs in California (located at MS 2602, P.O. Box 997413, Sacramento, CA 95899-7413, (916) 322-2964) where DUI programs are regulated by state administrators. Don't allow yourself to be intimidated or suffer unnecessary consequences of inaccurate advice from DDP staff who may not fully comprehend the applicable law, and who are not motivated by your personal circumstances. The DDP and the courts can make inadvertent mistakes, or set policies which focus on their own agendas, but which often may be clarified, corrected or challenged. Your attorney is the best source of legal advice in this area.

Client Comment: Jake, my DUI program counselor told me that while I am on my three years DUI probation, I am not allowed to transport alcohol, even in the trunk of my car. You never told me about this, is it true? Jake's Reply: No, I'm glad you checked with your DUI attorney; every case is different, which is why program "counselors" should not give legal advice which may not apply in your case. Although some DUI sentences in Mendocino County do include prohibitions on alcohol possession and use (typically multiple offense cases or first offenses with very high alcohol levels), most first offense sentences, including yours, do NOT prohibit possession (or transportation) of alcohol.

EmailClient Comment: Hi Jake, I hope all is well. I had a quick question about my terms of probation. During a recent DUI class an instructor said that as long as you are on probation you are prohibited from drinking alcohol under any circumstances. I'm curious if this is true as it does not seem to be indicated in my sentencing order. I'm wondering in the instance that say a friend is driving and is pulled over for a minor violation and the officer learns I'm on probation and asks if I had been drinking and I say I had, would this be a probation violation? Thanks for your time, just want to make sure I am following all terms. Jake's Reply: Your DUI "instructor" is wrong on the law. Although all Mendocino DUI sentences should include prohibitions on any alcohol in your blood when driving, and some DUI sentences do prohibit alcohol use at any time (typically multiple offense cases or first offenses with very high alcohol levels), most first offense sentences, including yours, do NOT prohibit consumption of alcohol if no driving is involved, so you were absolutely right to check your own sentencing orders before believing such generalized statements of law, and very smart to confirm your suspicions with your friendly Mendocino DUI lawyer.

Client Comment: Jake, my DUI class teacher claimed that since I now have a DUI, if I am in the car with someone who is pulled over and charged with a DUI, I will get another one. Is this true? Jake's Reply: Your DUI class "teacher" is wrong on the law; aside from heightened penalties if you get a new DUI conviction, the only change in rules which you suffer after a DUI conviction is that during your three-year probation period only, you are not permitted to drive with any alcohol at all in your blood. But no one is ever subject to a DUI arrest as a passenger in a vehicle unless suspected of interfering with its operation (like grabbing the steering wheel). You can’t drink and then drive, but you can be a passenger with no personal criminal risk related to the conduct or condition of the driver. It's really dumb to suggest otherwise.

People are often told by DUI program staff they may not enroll in a DUI program until convicted of a DUI, or at least until the separate DMV Admin Per Se hearing process is completed. This is incorrect (see the Department Letter Re: Pre-Conviction Enrollment) and following such advice may lead to a longer driver license suspension period than required by law. With proper documentation (typically the DMV H-6 driver license printout which may be obtained for $5 by going to any DMV field office before trying to enroll in a DUI program) anyone may "self-enroll" without papers showing a court conviction or DMV administrative decision. The Sonoma County DUI program has a Program Waiver to facilitate early enrollment when there is some question regarding type of enrollment. If you receive any legal advice from a DUI program, or if you believe you were wrongfully terminated from the Mendocino County program in Ukiah, then contact a Ukiah DUI lawyer to discuss alternatives and remedies.

Non-California Residents

If you live in a state other than California, then talk to your Mendocino County DUI defense attorney about the possibility of either waiving the program altogether, or satisfying the requirement with an approved Online DDP Program for nonresidents only (these programs will not satisfy DMV requirements but may satisfy court requirements so discuss this option with your local Mendocino County DUI or DMV lawyer before relying upon any other advice.


Any result portrayed was dependent on the facts of that case, and the results will differ if based on different facts.

Our DUI Lawyers

Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, North Bay resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of North Bay DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.


Dave Jake Schwartz