When you get arrested in California for DUI, you are faced with a variety of consequences. These possible penalties include hefty fines, jail time, and license suspension. Another common result of a DUI is being forced to attend an alcohol education program. This is especially true if you are a young driver.
The program will vary depending on the severity of your particular offense and whether you have been convicted of DUI in the past. Generally, the programs range from as little as 12 hours for a wet reckless to an 18-month program for individuals who have received multiple convictions. As you can see, this can be a substantial time commitment and unfortunately, these programs don't always work.
The subject matter covered during these programs will vary depending on the students, but there are common areas covered in most of the classes:
- Symptoms of alcohol abuse;
- Social behavior and attitudes towards alcohol;
- How alcohol affects the body;
- Accidents related to alcohol;
- Laws; and
Most of the people that work with these programs have good intentions and tell themselves that these classes make a difference and help to curb alcohol use in young adults. However, that is not always the case.
The students required to attend the classes don't go for free, but it still costs the state money to certify and pay instructors, maintain facilities, and stay current on laws and policy. When you add it all up, are these programs the best use of state funds?
One specific concern is the programs that are targeted towards students under the age of 21. Typically, there are three myths used when working with this age category:
- Alcohol use is the same as alcohol abuse;
- Alcohol consumption is used a gateway for drug use; and
- Exaggerating the dangers of alcohol consumption will scare young people into abstinence.
These myths do not stand up to the facts. For example, the gateway theory has been debunked by years of government research. There is no evidence that using one substance (alcohol) will cause the individual to begin using the other (drugs).
In addition, it is downright irresponsible to use scare tactics to try and get young people to stop drinking. Although these methods have been around for a long time, they are nothing but counterproductive. Think about it: as young people mature and become more knowledgeable about alcohol, they quickly come to realize that these myths drilled into them when they were younger were completely untrue and the alcohol education programs lose any credibility they may have had in the first place.
These programs need serious reform. In order to properly educate young drivers, alcohol education should be centered around:
- Providing accurate, truthful, and unbiased information about alcohol and its consumption;
- Distinguishing alcohol use from alcohol abuse;
- Education on effective ways to reduce the potential risks resulting from alcohol abuse; and
- Teaching the current California law and the potential consequences of underage purchase, possession and/or consumption of alcohol by those under the age of 21.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Fresno or the surrounding areas, contact my office as soon as possible. DUI charges are serious and need to be handled properly.