Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Alcohol education programs play role in DUI sentencing

Every day, Ohio law enforcement officers arrest people for driving while intoxicated. Criminal charges result from these arrests, and convictions could impose fines, license suspension and jail time. Programs meant to educate people about the hazards of drinking and driving and alcohol abuse sometimes replace or reduce these penalties. Typically, the completion of such a program is required before reinstating a license.

GThese classes sometimes offer people a way to stay our of jail and restore driving privileges. Eligibility for these programs depends on state law and the facts of each case. Before giving someone a chance to avoid harsh penalties through education and alcohol treatment, a judge will evaluate whether this is a person's first offense or a repeat offense. The blood alcohol level at the time of arrest usually needs to be less than 0.10 percent. A driver who caused a wreck that killed or injured people influences the judge's decision as well.

These same factors affect how long a person has to participate in a program. First-time offenders typically must receive 36 hours of education and treatment that lasts for 12 weeks. People with multiple offenses might have to attend classes for 30 months.

After a drunk driving arrest, a person could consult an attorney about strategies for controlling the consequences of a potential criminal conviction. In exchange for a plea deal with a light sentence, an attorney might negotiate with a prosecutor and arrange for the person to attend a treatment program. An attorney might also uncover an opportunity to defend the client from charges if the sobriety test was administered incorrectly.

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