The DMV Alcohol Class Section 1: Alcohol Education Sessions

The first day is the hardest.

Going into the room, finding a seat, looking around and feeling embarrassed, judged, and guilty over what you’ve done. It’s not easy, you have to do it, and once you get past that, it’s all downhill from there.

Just remember, if you feel that you are being judged that everybody in there is in there for the same thing - and there’s always somebody with a worse story than you. You’ll hear them as they come out.

The first section of the class is called “alcohol education sessions” but most commonly referred to as “instruction”. It sounds like it’d be a bunch of straight lessons, drawings on a chalkboard, and an endless, droning lecture.

It’s not.

Most of the instruction period is watching videos about drinking and driving. One they’ll show some people driving, and then give them some drinks and let them drive again and they’ll be “shocked” at their different outcomes. Some detail teenagers who had their lives taken, one I saw was about “spirituality” and how if you don’t have it you must be depressed and that will lead you to drugs, alcohol, and ruin (one guy had a real problem with that and let the teacher have it about this, it was pretty cool). Most of the videos you watch will have been made in the 70’s, so you’ll be watching people unable to control vehicles that don’t have power steering. Real relevant.

When you sit down, remember that everyone around you is beginning this process with you. There will be somebody on their last part of this program (their sixth class), but the majority of them are people that you’ll see once a week for quite some time. Make friends, talk to them. Some of them will have questions about the process that you know the answers to, some of them will be able to answer your questions (Like what a good IID place is). If it’s also somebody else’s first week, tell them. It’s a lot easier to go through this with a friend.

Sit down, go through attendance (which takes a while, but is the most important part - get checked in!), watch the video, don’t talk, don’t play on your phone, and you’ll get through it. It’s not the worst thing in the world. Afterwards, there’s a discussion about the video, and eventually they let you go. No real, hard lessons, no quizzes, that’s it. Adult time out. Remember that.

They give you a break sometime, and some programs are lenient enough to let you go the whole class and take the break at the end - letting you out early (my favorite).

The discussions won’t be that involved, usually somebody will have some sort of question about the legal procedure you’re going through and that’ll derail the discussion into something actually useful, so it’ll be pretty welcome. Just be warned: your instructor is
not the expert you would hope they would be in these matters, and certainly not a lawyer. One kept telling us ways that we could violate our probation, and it was just a bunch of urban myths “If you’re sober and you have a drunk person in your car they can charge you with a DUI!” - they didn’t know the difference between a probation violation and a DUI, which really took their stock down in my book (a refresher on what a probation violation is here).

That said, your instructor and you are in this together - you both want to kill time and get out of there as soon as possible. They’d read to us email forwards about drinking and driving, and usually somebody would raise their hand and tell them how they’re full of shit (i.e. them telling us that getting a DUI in a different country would give us an automatic 5 years in jail, and somebody who actually lived there explaining that it couldn’t be farther from the truth). You want to believe they have an authority, but really they’re somebody who works in substance recovery and needed some more hours. I would not take legal advice from them.

In both a 3 Month (Ab-541) and 9-Month (AB-1353) class it’s just six weeks of classes. Nothing too big.

Do what I did - put your head down, don’t make waves, don’t fight them, and get through it.

Get it done.

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