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What Are the AB541, AB762, AB1353 and SB38 Alcohol Programs?

If one has a DUI, there are a series of acronyms and new words to learn.  Some concepts are counterintuitive.  Add to this the dizzying amount of punishment required on even a first-time DUI and it is a wonder some people make it through their case and probation with no attorney to rely upon for answers to the most frequent questions.

Depending upon one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and whether the DUI is a first or second-time DUI, one will most likely have to enroll in and complete an alcohol awareness program, either as a requirement for the court and / or the DMV.  This class can be the AB541, the AB762, the AB1353 or the SB38 class.
The Reader’s Digest Version: After one enters into a plea bargain, is convicted at trial or loses a DMV hearing for a DUI, there is almost always a requirement to attend and complete one of four DUI programs that vary by their length and curriculum.  The following article describes each program, its approximate cost and its curriculum.
The AB541 class is usually required in a first-time DUI for someone with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.12% or 0.13%.  It is a three months outpatient treatment program consisting of certain classes and meetings.
The minimum curriculum for this program as well as all other alcohol awareness programs is set under Title 9 of the California Health and Safety Code.  Each county’s health department can then add classes to the curriculum and require each program provider to include such classes before certifying a completion of the class for the court or DMV.  For example, in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Health Department requires six additional self-help meetings (i.e. AA or NA) above the minimum requirements.  Orange County requires twelve additional self-help meetings.  Riverside and San Bernardino also add meetings.  In other words, the various alcohol awareness programs do vary in their curriculum by county.

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The AB541 curriculum requires one intake/case management interview, two case management sessions (at midpoint and end), ten alcohol/drug awareness education classes (total of 15 hours), ten group sessions (total of 15 hours) and in Los Angeles County six AA or NA meetings.  The fee for such a program varies, but is about $475.

The AB762 program is usually reserved for people convicted of DUI with a BAC of 0.12% to 0.15%. In Los Angeles County, it is a six-month outpatient program consisting of the Title 9 minimums plus 13 self-help AA or NA meetings as required by the Los Angeles County Department of Health.  Like the AB541 program, it includes one intake/initial evaluation interview, then six monthly individual counseling sessions (fifteen minutes minimum per session), ten alcohol/drug awareness education classes (total of 15 hours), twenty group sessions (total of 30 hours, and then the thirteen self-help meetings if in Los Angeles County.  The customary fee for the AB762 class is approximately $850.

The AB1353 program is a nine-month alcohol awareness program usually mandated for those first-time offenders with a BAC of 0.15% or higher.  It includes a one-hour intake/case management interview, followed by five monthly individualized counseling sessions (minimum of fifteen minutes per session), ten alcohol/drug awareness education classes (fifteen hours total), thirty group sessions (total of 45 hours) and in Los Angeles County, 19 self-help meetings (i.e. AA or NA).  In other counties, there are fewer or more self-help meetings.  The customary fee for the AB1353 program is about $1,250.

The SB38 program is usually reserved for second-time and third-time offenders, although in very bad first-time DUI cases, it is occasionally ordered.  It is an eighteen-month program and the toughest program of all the alcohol awareness programs.  It is divided into an intense twelve-month phase and six-month aftercare phase.

It includes an hour-long intake/initial evaluation case management interview, followed by 24 bi-weekly individual counseling sessions (minimum of 15 minutes long), ten alcohol/drug awareness education classes, thirty-five group sessions (1.5 hours per session) and in Los Angeles County, 26 self-help meetings (NA or AA) and six monthly individual counseling sessions just during the last six months (minimum of 15 minutes per meeting).  

The twenty-six self-help meetings is a Los Angeles County requirement.  It used to be 39 such meetings a few years ago.  Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino County have different requirements on the self-help meetings.  

The average cost of an SB38 program is $1,550.

For more information about DUI sentencing issues, please click on the following articles:
  1. What Are the HAM and MADD VIP Programs?
  2. Is Alcoholics Anonymous Objectionable on Religious Grounds?
  3. What Punishment Do I Face for First-Time DUI?
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