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What happens if I violated my DUI probation by not being able to pay for the alcohol classes the court ordered? Blacks Law Dictionary

By James Hirby

Most states require motorists convicted of an alcohol- or drug-related driving violation to complete a state-approved DUI program. The intent of the programs is to reduce the number of repeat offenders by offering education and instruction on the dangers of driving under the influence and to offer a forum in which participants can address personal issues they might have with alcohol or drugs.

Private companies that must meet state standards usually present the programs for which they are entitled to charge a fee. If a DUI program is a condition of the sentence, being unable to afford the program fees is not an excuse for not attending. A person on probation who fails to fulfill the conditions of probation, including attending a DUI program, can be charged with a violation of probation. If a judge agrees that the person violated the terms of probation, the judge has the authority to impose a new, and usually harsher, sentence.

California, Florida and most other states have procedures by which a person convicted of a DUI can ask a judge to reduce or completely waive the fees normally charged for the state?s DUI programs. For example, California prohibits the operators of its state-approved DUI programs from preventing anyone from participating based upon the person?s finances. Program operators are specifically prohibited from wait-listing a participant or referring a potential participant to another program provider based on the individual?s inability to pay.

Under most programs, a person convicted of a DUI who lacks the financial resources to pay the fees charged for the court-mandated program may obtain a waiver by presenting proof of indigence with the company offering the DUI program. For instance, DUI program operators in Florida are required to have written criteria in their operations and policies manual for handling requests for waivers of program fees.

Individuals who cannot raise the money to pay the fees for a court-imposed DUI program should discuss the issue with their probation officer. Procedures for obtaining waivers vary from state to state, but a probation officer would know how to make a request for a waiver, and to whom the request should be made. Ignoring the DUI program will probably result in the imposition of additional penalties, but the condition to complete the program will not go away.

Nathaniel Brown