So Many Roadblocks: How California’s Program Fees System Traps Low-Income Drivers

California automatically suspends the driver’s licenses of people convicted for driving under the influence (DUI) and requires participation in an alcohol and drug education program in order to reinstate a license. However, many people are unable to drive legally because they cannot afford the program’s fees. Using data from 45 licensed DUI programs in Los Angeles County, this report details the range of fees assessed and the predatory and illegal practices used to exploit low-income people and limit access to these programs. 

You can read the full text of the report here

Key Findings: 

  • Fees for a state-licensed program range from $400 to over $3,000.
  • 75 percent of Los Angeles programs charge low-income people illegal fees for things such as missing meetings, urine/drug tests, and enrollment. 
  • 57 percent of Los Angeles programs and many county run programs require individuals to be enrolled in general assistance to qualify for reduced costs. 
  • Nearly half of all Los Angeles programs refuse to consider a participant’s ability to pay until after they have paid an enrollment fee, which ranges from $40 to $400. 
  • Only 7 percent of the programs that responded accept fee waivers from the court. 
  • 11 of 45 programs surveyed reported that they will not provide the certificate of completion required to reinstate a driver’s license until all fees associated with the program are paid. 


  • Make alcohol and education programs publicly funded services.
  • Remove indefinite license-reinstatement barriers that do not serve public safety. 
  • Enforce income-based protections and enhance ability to pay protection. 
  • Increase transparency. 
  • Prohibit withholding certification of completion based on payment. 
RJ Vogt, Eric Henderson, Marin Callaway, Amy Ramage, Adrienna Wong
ACLU Southern California