Should I Go to DUI Class Before My Trial?
Finding a DUI class involves knowing which programs are approved in your state. Your attorney will know the approved DUI schools in your area. Almost universally, successful completion of DUI classes is required for those who have been either convicted of, or who have pleaded guilty to, a DUI-DWI offense. Completion of this school is typically a requirement to be able to regain your full driver’s license. In many jurisdictions, even where a reduced plea to another offense other than DUI-DWI is obtained, attendance of this educational class may be mandated.
A special situation may exist for persons who live in a different state from the state where the DUI-DWI arrest took place. In such situations, you may be able to attend DUI-DWI school in your home state, complete only ONE course and be able to fully restore your driving privileges in both states. Ask your DUI-DWI specialist for advice on this before signing up for any course in a state different from the state where your arrest is pending.
However, if you attend this school at the recommendation of your attorney before either your trial or your plea of guilty, you may gain several significant benefits. First, if there has been an administrative suspension of your license, completion of this school may allow you to obtain reinstatement of your full driver’s license again. If you have completed the course to secure the return of your license after an ALS/ALR license action against you, this DUI-DWI course is not usually required to be repeated after the criminal case has been completed, even if you ultimately plead guilty to DUI-DWI or are found guilty at trial.
Second, your attendance at this school may give your attorney some leverage with the prosecution in obtaining a reduced charge against you. Your attendance shows the prosecution your acceptance of a possible alcohol problem, and your willingness to accept responsibility for your actions. After all, one of the stated purposes of the course is to provide education that will assist you in not getting into similar trouble. Incidentally, your voluntary pre-trial attendance of a private counseling program is not a matter that must be disclosed by your attorney unless and until this issue relates to a negotiated plea in the case.
Finally, if you are found guilty of the DUI-DWI offense, attendance of the DUI-DWI school typically will be part of your sentence. If you have already successfully completed the school, this is one less thing you have to do when the case is resolved in court. Successful completion of the school can sometimes be used by your attorney to negotiate a lesser sentence on your behalf. Your attorney can submit to the prosecutor that you have taken this legal matter seriously, and have taken steps to address any “dependency” or safety issues.
Be aware that some states allow “advance” completion of the DUI-DWI school (e.g. Georgia) while others do not (e.g. South Carolina). You may have to wait until your case is over to start the driving school. Furthermore, a “DUI school” in one state may not be accepted by the state where your DUI-DWI charge is pending, so always confirm the acceptability of the course you plan to take before enrolling. Check with your DUI-DWI specialist before signing up for any course prior to disposition of your case.