An alcohol education program is a type of class designed to promote healthy and legal use of alcohol. The class itself may follow a variety of ideological guidelines, including advocating complete abstinence from alcohol and other substances. Beyond class time, an alcohol education program may also include community service, homework, or other activities designed to foster changes in the attitudes of participants. This kind of class is often part of a rehabilitative or punitive program and is attended by participants seeking to avoid more serious punishment.
A person may be required to complete an alcohol education program for a variety of reasons. Underage drinkers are often assigned to an educational program. If a person gets a citation for causing disturbances while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol, an alcohol education program may be part of his or her treatment. Usually, alcohol education programs are only available to first time offenders.
Most alcohol education programs involve several hours of class time. The amount of time varies depending on the state or organization offering the class. Some courses are spread out over several days, often with additional time needed for homework, while other courses are available to complete in a single day. In addition to the time spent studying proper alcohol use, some programs also require community service. Some states have significantly longer programs for people who have been identified as alcohol abusers or addicts.
Some school groups label their non-punitive courses on drinking as alcohol education programs. School programs may include information similar to rehabilitative programs, such as information about safety and legality. These kinds of programs are not appropriate substitutes for court-ordered programs.
The benefit of alcohol education programs is that they offer some leniency to first time offenders while serving to educate them about their mistakes. In this sense, they are intended to be rehabilitative rather than punitive. Just as the requirements for the course are different depending on the area, the benefits also vary. While there are often fees associated with the course, the price paid for the class often outweighs the cost of having the offense affecting one's driving record or resolving it otherwise.
Usually, a person who is required to attend an alcohol education program must do so within a certain time frame. Within that time period, there are generally a number of available course times. Completion of an alcohol education program is typically marked by an examination. Failure to complete the program successfully almost always results in additional punishment, so it is important to attend all class periods and finish all requirements in a timely and serious manner.