This advice is very specific to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Any DUI conviction (including a plea down to a “wet reckless”) in Virginia will require mandatory classes in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. There are multiple levels of the program, and your assignment is dependent on your case. The typical program for a first time offender is ten weeks, one night per week, up to two hours per class.
During your initial consultation, your lawyer may tell you to pre-enroll in VASAP. The program allows you to do this if you have been charged but not yet convicted of a DUI.
When and Why You Would Pre-Enroll in a VASAP Program
There are multiple advantages of pre-enrollment if you and your lawyer are anticipating a conviction that will require your participation in VASAP. One, it shows initiative and responsibility to the prosecutor and judge, and could be used in your favor in a plea deal situation. Two, if convicted, you’ve already become familiar with the program, have completed some classes and can get out faster. Three, you establish a case manager ahead of time, who you are already familiar with after your conviction. Fourth, in many jurisdictions, you can get your restricted driver’s license sheet on the same day as your conviction (note: you cannot actually drive until you take a few more steps, see here for details).
How to Pre-Enroll in a VASAP Program
To pre-enroll, call the nearest VASAP office and make an appointment for pre-enroll intake. Take your summons, arrest warrant, and if applicable, your BAC certificate with you. The cost is $400, and is NOT refundable if your case is dropped or you are acquitted. At intake, you will have to do a breath test (you are supposed to avoid any alcohol within 24 hours of any VASAP appointment or class, even if you do not have a court order to avoid alcohol), you will be screened for alcohol issues/alcoholism and given a case manager.
You will return for an appointment with your case manager, where they review your case, go over the rules and take down your preferences for the night to attend class. They will mail you a letter letting you know the start date and time of your class.
You can be given a breath test at any time before, during and after these classes. Do not risk this in any way, as you will be kicked out of the class without a refund if in pre-enroll. You must also show up to class on time (roll is taken), and if you must miss a class for a known reason, you must notify your case worker 24 hours before the class. If you miss class due to an emergency, you must notify your case worker by 24 hours/next business day after the class. You are allowed two such unexcused absences, and will have to make them up, at a cost of $25 per missed class. Any more than this, and you must start over and possibly forfeit the $400.
The classes are typically in the evenings during the week, and last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. Again, if convicted of any DUI/DWI related offense, including a wet reckless plea, these classes become mandatory.