top 10 questions: from everyone
From Everyone | From Minors/Parents | From Multiple Offenders | From Non-Residents
- When can I get the police report?
- Does it matter that I wasn't read my rights?
- Will it help that I've never been arrested?
- Should I get a lawyer?
- What is a typical sentence for a Sonoma County DUI?
- Will I go to jail?
- Can I drive right now?
- Will my license be suspended?
- Can I get a restricted license?
- What about my job?
Experienced Sonoma County DUI lawyers will explain to you that In most cases, police reports in Sonoma County are not released until the arraignment (the first court date) in Santa Rosa. In fact, this is actually the purpose of the first court date, to inform the defendant (or better yet his/her DUI attorney appearing on behalf of the defendant) of exactly what the charges will be, and to provide the documentation which the police and the district attorney intend to use to justify and support the arrest and the charges in a DUI case.
Typically the police report isn't even completed until at least a few weeks after the DUI arrest incident. First it is usually routed to the officer's supervisor, then to the Sonoma County District Attorney's office for evaluation by a deputy District Attorney, and sometimes returned to the police agency and the specific arresting officer for more information or investigation. If charges are never filed by the District Attorney then the officer's report might never be released! Click on Anatomy of a Sonoma County DUI on this site for a typical view of the entire Sonoma County DUI process.
Compassionate Sonoma DUI attorneys understand that most people are anxious to find out about their DUI field sobriety and alcohol test results. Make no mistake: Sonoma County police officers almost always score DUI arrestees very low on field sobriety tests regardless of how you were encouraged in the field (think about it, if the reports say you passed all your tests and blew below .08, then the officer's subsequent arrest of you would look pretty stupid and would likely be thrown out; this is not a scenario police want to allow).
Most people want to know their blood and/or breath results as soon as possible. Blood samples are routed to the Santa Rosa lab of the Department of Justice where test results can take several weeks or even longer to be produced and returned to the District Attorney. Sometimes blood results after a DUI arrest may remain unknown beyond the first court appearance (although often a resourceful Sonoma DUI attorney can obtain breath and/or blood results sooner, even before the prosecutor).
The best Santa Rosa DUI lawyers counsel recent arrestees to be patient. Normally, all "discovery" information and documentation (such as arrest reports, lab reports, dash cam and body-worn camera video, breath machine records, supplemental records and information, etc.) is supplied, considered and resolved in due course with ample time and opportunity to mount defenses and resolve a matter in your best interests. In the meantime, there is plenty of constructive work for you to do. Click on Ten Tips for the First 48 Hours After Arrest. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.
Usually not, the smart Sonoma DUI attorneys will explain, because Miranda rights typically apply only to "custodial interrogations" (picture an interrogation room with a lightbulb and a chair) and typically apply only to verbal utterances (statements you make) which may be kept out of a court trial when rights were not read to you before questioning. If you think about it, in most DUI encounters, long before arrest the Sonoma County police officers have already noted observations of your driving behavior, personal conduct, breath alcohol odor, performance on field sobriety tests, and breath machine results, all non-verbal utterances, all way before you are placed in custody, thus not typically subject to Miranda warnings.
In Berkemer v. McCarty (1984) 468 U.S. 420, the United States Supreme Court held that an officer's roadside questioning of a driver detained during a routine DUI traffic stop (officer observes weaving, stops driver, orders him out of vehicle) does not constitute this “custodial interrogation” for Miranda purposes. The court rejected the contention that the initial police stop of a vehicle, by itself, renders the driver "in custody," explaining that such circumstances are not “custody” because the questioning is brief and took place in public. The court contrasted a police station interrogation, "which frequently is prolonged, and in which the detainee often is aware that questioning will continue until he provides his interrogators the answers they seek."
However, Santa Rosa DUI attorneys know that are many ways to fight a DUI. Click on Ten Tips for Fighting a DUI on this site for a more detailed discussion. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.
Sort of. The best Santa Rosa DUI lawyers will explain to you that your lack of a prior Sonoma County criminal record is usually not a sole basis to dismiss a current DUI case in Sonoma County, or even to get a better plea deal.
But of course, it is far better to have an absolutely clean record, because those people with a prior criminal record, especially those with prior DUI convictions, are typically exposed to substantially or exponentially increased penalties with a new DUI arrest (like steep jail sentences often with no jail alternatives offered, much longer license suspensions, much longer DUI classes, and longer probation and breathalyzer periods), depending on the number, nature, and recency of their prior convictions, whereas someone with no prior arrests and no aggravating factors would be facing the very least possible consequences.
In rare cases, where the Santa Rosa District Attorney's office is wavering on a dismissal or an especially terrific plea deal, a defendant's clean prior criminal record, perhaps coupled with extraordinary hardship if convicted, and significant community or charitable history, etc, timely and properly presented by a defense attorney may encourage a more desirable result.
Sonoma DUI attorneys know that the most helpful non-legal factors in obtaining a better resolution of a Sonoma County DUI case in court tend to be good driving before you were stopped, very low alcohol test results, and cooperation with the police. But the best way to reduce or dismiss charges is for a good Santa Rosa DUI defense lawyer to argue legal weaknesses in the District Attorney's case against you. For examples of legitimate legal weaknesses which may be argued, click on our Sonoma County DUI Lawyer Ten Tips for Fighting a DUI Arrest. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI attorney about your specific case.
Yes, a Sonoma County DUI is serious and complicated. Don't act on casual advice to fight this by yourself (See, Ten Tips for the First 48 Hours: Don't Follow Bad Advice), or even worse, don't simply walk into court alone to "accept responsibility" and ask for leniency. Many people believe that a case may be dismissed or penalties avoided or reduced because they've never been in trouble before, or because they will face substantial hardship if convicted, but it just doesn't work that way. Understand that the court does not see alleged DUI offenders as victims regardless of the degree of hardship that would be suffered with a DUI conviction. Rather, it is legal issues which make the difference in most cases. Sonoma DUI lawyers are prepared for a variety of aggravating factors which can make a DUI case much worse, and lawyers seek out and utilize a variety of legal defenses which can make a DUI case much better. Only lawyers are specifically trained to identify and employ all of these factors and defenses on your behalf to successfully reduce or dismiss a DUI case, or soften the blow.
In addition, there are also piles of legal issues, bureaucratic tasks, and huge inconveniences in every DUI case which a local Sonoma County DUI lawyer can help you to navigate, or completely avoid. If you don't see how involved and complex even a first DUI can be in Sonoma County without a lawyer, then click on Anatomy of a DUI on this site and see the many different directions a Santa Rosa DUI case can go, as well as the burdensome collection of obligations, timetables and tasks to perform. And don't drive to court with a suspended license. Click here to see recent examples of Santa Rosa Court Stings. Have a good local DUI lawyer go for you instead.
Will your absence be noticed by the court or required by your Sonoma DUI attorney? No, in most cases court appearances are strictly procedural. Unless special circumstances are present, judges do not wish to speak to a defendant at such proceedings and your absence or presence will go unnoticed. Clients who live in Santa Rosa, or Sonoma County, rarely, if ever, come to court in typical DUI cases. This doesn't mean you'll be left in the dark about your case. A good Sonoma County DUI lawyer will explain the entire process. To start, click here to see Ryan's comprehensive Anatomy of a Sonoma County DUI flowchart. In addition, Ryan's tech know-how can be very helpful to avoid the need for client travel, meetings or appearances, especially at the procedural beginning of a case. Ryan routinely makes available to our clients the police reports and other DUI case documents after court appearances.
You can (and should) closely follow the progress of your case by communicating with your attorney before and after Santa Rosa court appearances, and following your case separately online by clicking on Resources on this site and then find your local court under "Courts" by clicking on the county where you were arrested (for example, Sonoma, Mendocino, or Napa), and search for your name. Sonoma Courts have a case history summary online, typically a few days before your first court date, listing case number, charges, and the first (or next) court date and time, as well as the assigned Judge in your Sonoma DUI case. Napa Courts and Mendocino Courts have daily online calendars. Marin Courts have San Rafael appearances online weeks in advance.
A good local Santa Rosa DUI lawyer will get you the best resolution, properly handled with the least stress and confusion, which is well worth a reasonable fee. If you already know you cannot afford to hire a private lawyer, then consider requesting a public defender. Click on Ten Tips for the First 48 Hours after Arrest on this site for a more detailed discussion about getting a DUI lawyer.
In Sonoma County, for a "standard" adult first offense DUI where the alcohol test results show under 0.15% blood alcohol, and where there are no other aggravating facts or charges alleged (e.g., no collision, bad driving, test refusal, extreme alcohol levels, child endangerment, resisting, evading, suspended license, old prior convictions), and where there are no viable legal defenses or other compelling facts in mitigation, a knowledgeable local Santa Rosa DUI attorney will tell you that most defendants in a Sonoma County DUI case can anticipate two days of jail, a six-month license suspension or restricted driving privileges, approximately $2200 in court fines (good Sonoma DUI lawyers routinely obtain affordable monthly payments as little as $50 per month for their clients), three years informal probation, and three months of once-weekly DUI program classes in Santa Rosa. Starting January 1, 2019, California courts joins at least 28 Other States in requiring installation of an ignition interlock breathalyzer device for up to six months for a first offense DUI conviction.
Many people convicted of a first or second DUI offense in California feel that the penalties imposed by California courts are overly harsh, but a new study comparing DUI penalties in each of the 50 U.S. states, conducted by WalletHub.com, finds that California was more lenient than many other states, ranking as the 21st strictest state nationwide for DUI penalties, and just about average the most lenient on the West Coast, and about average for the entire western United States, although penalties have tightened from only a year ago when California ranked just 34th strictest in the nation.
As of 2017, seven western states ranked substantially higher (stricter) than California, including Arizona (ranked the #1 strictest state in the country), Alaska (3rd), Utah (8th), Colorado (11th), Washington (15th), Oregon (16th), and Nevada (18th). Only five western states were found to be more lenient than California, including Hawaii (26th), New Mexico (29th), Wyoming (37th), Montana (40th), and Idaho (47th).
The best Sonoma DUI lawyers will resolve many first offense cases with better results (for example, a dismissal, or a "Wet Reckless" with no jail or license suspension), but cases may resolve with higher penalties if there are no defenses but aggravating factors are present, such as higher alcohol levels, collision, hit & run, evading, resisting arrest, refusal to give a chemical sample, or old DUI cases outside ten years from a current DUI arrest.
By contrast, a typical "standard" second DUI conviction in Sonoma County (prior DUI arrest within ten years of current DUI arrest), usually increases a defendant's jail exposure from two days to 30-90 days, increases the ignition interlock breathalyzer device from six months to at least one to three years, increases the minimum three-month DUI program classes to the 18-month DUI program, increases the minimum 30 days no driving to 90 days to one-year license suspension, and may increase the informal probation period from three years to four or five years (almost always adding typical multiple offense probation conditions to refrain from alcohol use or possession, waive police search rights to enforce no-alcohol orders, and stay away from places where alcohol is the primary item for sale). Click on our Sonoma County DUI Lawyer Ten Tips for Easing the Consequences of a DUI on this site for a detailed discussion about typical Sonoma County DUI resolutions. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI attorney about your specific case.
Although DUI convictions nearly always result in jail sentences, the best Sonoma County DUI lawyers will fight hard first to beat a DUI case and avoid any conviction at all, or negotiate a reduction to a Wet Reckless or traffic infractions which typically have no jail sentences.
However, if your case does result in a DUI conviction, then honest Sonoma DUI lawyers should tell you that most first and second DUI offenders in Sonoma County can avoid serving actual jail time behind bars by arranging instead for one of several jail alternatives, such as the county sheriff's "Work Release" work crew, or electronic home confinement, or even just simple nonprofit community service in lieu of actual incarceration. Many second and third offenders may qualify for Sonoma County's "DUI Court," which is designed to focus on treatment for alcohol and drug dependency rather than punishment.
For a more detailed conversation about the low likelihood of actual incarceration in a typical Sonoma County DUI To examine various jail alternatives where there are no viable defenses to avoid a DUI conviction and jail sentence, and no aggravating factors barring jail alternatives, click on our Sonoma County DUI Lawyer discussion of "Jail Alternatives" on this site under Ten Tips for Easing the Consequences of a DUI. Of course, the best way to avoid jail in a DUI case is to avoid a DUI conviction; see our Sonoma DUI Lawyer discussion, Ten Tips on Fighting a DUI Arrest. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI attorney about your specific case.
If someone is validly licensed and insured prior to a Sonoma County DUI arrest, and if the police officer took the arrestee's license, confiscated it, and failed to return it to the driver, and instead handed them a "Pink Temporary License," then typically most people may drive with that pink temporary license for 30 days from the date of arrest.
Usually a local Santa Rosa DUI attorney can help extend that first 30-day pink license for at least another 30-90 days or more, until we know the outcome of any license suspension exposure in the Sonoma DUI case (both in court and at the separate DMV hearing). In addition, the best Sonoma DUI lawyers can, and do, beat DMV cases, avoiding any required time off the road at all.
Click on Ten Tips for the First 48 Hours After Arrest on this site for a more detailed discussion about the Pink Temporary License and Contacting the DMV, and click on Anatomy of a DUI on this site for a typical view of the entire DUI process. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.
Santa Rosa DUI lawyers should counsel that in a typical first offense Sonoma County DUI case (alcohol-related, age 21 or older, no allegation of injury or refusal to give a chemical test), with no other aggravating circumstances, and no viable legal defenses or other mitigating factors, there may be a four, six or ten-month driver's license suspension as a result of DMV proceedings, or court proceedings, or both.
In a typical second Sonoma DUI case (alcohol-related, age 21 or older, no allegation of injury or refusal to give a chemical test), with no other aggravating circumstances, and no viable legal defenses or other mitigating factors, there may be a one-year driver's license suspension as a result of DMV proceedings, or court proceedings, or both.
The best Sonoma DUI lawyers should be able to explain how these suspensions work together, and specify the applicable period of time for any license suspension, depending on what laws were applicable on the date of arrest, and which proceeding (court or DMV or both) resulted in a suspension, and how much alcohol in the breath or blood was alleged in the case, etc. A great Sonoma DUI attorney will also be able to help most drivers obtain a restricted (limited) "work" license or ignition interlock (IID) breathalyzer license or even resume full driving privileges.
Click the next Tip in this section, Tip #9, for answers about getting a restricted license, and then click on Ten Tips for Getting Your License Back on this site for a more detailed discussion of the separate court and DMV suspensions, and how to get your license back in most DUI cases. It is absolutely possible for a local Santa Rosa DUI attorney to eliminate any actual suspension or restricted driving if successful defenses are presented in your case. There are many ways to fight a DUI. Click on Ten Tips for Fighting a DUI on this site for a more detailed discussion. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.
In a typical first offense Sonoma DUI case (arrest date after 1/1/19, alcohol-related, age 21 or older, no allegation of injury or refusal to give a chemical test), with no other aggravating circumstances, and no viable legal defenses or other mitigating factors, a good Sonoma DUI lawyer will explain that most drivers may avoid a suspension of driving privileges by obtaining either (1) an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) breathalyzer restricted license, or (2) a 12-month "work" license if the court doesn't order the IID breathalyzer. In either option, the restricted license may be issued at any local DMV office once the driver accomplishes certain tasks, which are discussed on this site under Ten Tips for Getting Your License Back.
In a typical second offense Sonoma DUI case, with an arrest date on or after 1/1/19, no aggravating circumstances, and no viable legal defenses or other mitigating factors, the best Santa Rosa DUI attorneys will explain that most drivers may avoid a suspension of driving privileges by obtaining an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) breathalyzer restricted license at any local DMV office after accomplishing certain tasks, which are discussed on this site under Ten Tips for Getting Your License Back.
If the date of arrest is prior to 1/1/19, then older laws applicable to most first offense DUI cases allow for a restricted work license, but only after 30 days of no driving (regardless of hardship). For most second or third offense DUI cases, the older laws allow for an IID breathalyzer restricted license after 90 days or six months of no driving, respectively (or a work license after one year of no driving in second offense cases), if required tasks are accomplished. If the date of the DUI arrest is prior to 2010, then in most multiple offender cases there is no possibility of restricted driving privileges (regardless of hardship) for at least one year unless the separate DMV case is successfully litigated.
DUI laws and DMV policies and practice change often, so consult with a Santa Rosa DUI attorney about your individual circumstances. There are also a large variety of special rules for drug DUIs, injury cases, minors, commercial drivers, out of state residents, etc. Click on Ten Tips for Getting Your License Back on this site for a more detailed discussion about getting your license back in many different situations. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.
Many people arrested for a DUI want to know how such an incident might affect their job and their future, and if they should tell their boss about a DUI arrest. A good Sonoma County DUI lawyer will likely say that, unless obligated by law or contract (rare) to inform your employer about a major traffic incident or an arrest, you should understand that an arrest is not a conviction, and ultimately you may be found not guilty, or your case may resolve as something other than a DUI. Therefore, rather than trying to be honest by announcing incomplete facts and worrisome events now, the most conservative approach in most cases is to resist the temptation to share early information with anyone right after an arrest, understanding this may be far more confusing than helpful to an employer before you have a complete and correct understanding of the final outcome and practical effects.
For a detailed list of many professions, with examples of DUI effects, and applicable professional regulations, and notice or disclosure requirements, click on our Sonoma DUI Lawyer "Job Effects" discussion under the link below, and read about the effects of a DUI arrest and conviction on various jobs and careers, as well as the DMV's employer "pull notice" program where the DMV informs employers directly if the employee signed a prior consent authorization (also rare, usually at the time of hiring), under Ten Tips for Easing the Consequences of a DUI. Consult with a Santa Rosa DUI attorney about your specific case.