top 10 questions: from minors/parents
From Everyone | From Minors/Parents | From Multiple Offenders | From Non-Residents
- Can I drive now?
- Can't we just make this go away?
- What if I was below .08% alcohol level?
- Will my insurance be affected?
- Will I go to jail?
- How much are the fines?
- Will my license be suspended?
- What If I'm Under 18 Years Old?
- Will I Have A Criminal Record?
- What If I Have A Prior DUI?
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. This rule or allowance usually is not affected by the age of the driver.
In most cases 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 here under Getting Your License Back for the minor's Critical Need License, 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.
The honest answer from a knowledgeable, local Sonoma County DUI attorney is, "sometime yes, sometimes no," but rarely, if ever, because the accused is "a good kid with a bright future who has never been in trouble before," or even "a good kid who's had a tough time and needs a break." Instead, the way to make a difference is with leverage and legal defenses.
Sonoma DUI lawyers understand that prosecutors want punishment and convictions. But all criminal cases may be fought in court, and cases at the DMV may be fought too; many defenses available to adults in court and DMV are also viable in DUI cases involving minors and juveniles. In addition, some under-21 zero tolerance DUIs in Sonoma County may be bargained lower or dismissed by using creative resolutions, especially when alcohol levels are lower. The best Sonoma DUI lawyers may be able to get misdemeanors reduced to lesser misdemeanors or infractions, infractions may be diverted out of the courts altogether, and other types of resolutions short of a conviction may be obtained.
You may wish to consider some of the suggestions for addressing issues which gave rise to a DUI or other alcohol or drug-related offense, and better position yourself or your minor for a favorable court resolution, by reviewing the information under "Fixing Trigger Problems" on this site at Ten Tips for the First 48 Hours. In addition, 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.
Understand that zero-tolerance cases mean that minors can be significantly below .08 and still be found guilty of violating the zero-tolerance law which prohibits any alcohol at all when driving, even below the adult .08% legal limit.
However, good Sonoma DUI lawyers will explain to you that, depending on the facts of a particular case, the lower the breath or blood alcohol levels, the better the DUI case, and if the alcohol levels are below .08%, then it is less likely that the Sonoma County District Attorney will seek a full DUI conviction as compared to a wet reckless, or, even better, an infraction that may be dismissed upon successful completion of some sort of educational remediation.
If blood alcohol levels are as low as .01 or .02, additional defenses may be mounted by your Santa Rosa DUI lawyer in court (and at DMV if necessary) to attempt to avoid a DMV suspension as well. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.
Insurance policies and rates are typically affected by adverse entries on a DMV record. Any conviction related to alcohol and driving will likely be reported by the Sonoma County court to the Santa Rosa DMV. Therefore it is critical to rely on a Sonoma DUI attorney to analyze a specific case and try any applicable creative strategies to avoid an alcohol-related conviction which might otherwise appear on a driving record.
If a conviction is inevitable, then many people, especially parents, consider alternatives such as separating insurance policies and engaging different insurance companies to avoid higher rates for everyone; this can be a good time to find a better insurance company, and to consider other special alternatives suggested by a Santa Rosa DUI attorney who knows the complexities brought to a family with a young DUI offender on the family policy, and the importance of avoiding steep insurance bills which are typically expected after a DUI conviction. For the specific, added insurance filing required following any DUI conviction and many other types of DMV suspensions, see our Sonoma DUI lawyer discussion here about the SR-22 Requirement. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI attorney about your specific case.
The best Sonoma DUI lawyers will answer that, in Sonoma County, in a "standard" first DUI case under 0.15% blood alcohol where there are no other charges or allegations, and no viable legal defenses or other compelling facts, most defendants can anticipate two days of jail, and three years informal probation. Many under-21 Sonoma DUI cases may resolve with better results (for example an infraction dismissed following diversion-type efforts, or a "wet reckless") and likewise many Sonoma DUI cases may resolve with higher penalties.
If a jail sentence is ordered, then most first and second DUI offenders in Sonoma County can avoid serving actual jail time through alternatives such as volunteer work release or home confinement. Many second and third offenders may qualify for Sonoma County's new "DUI court" designed to focus on treatment rather than incarceration.
To examine these various jail alternatives where there are no viable defenses or aggravating factors in a case, click on Ten Tips for Easing the Consequences of a DUI on this site and go to "Jail Alternatives." Consult with a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer about your specific case.
- 6. How much are the fines?
- 7. Will my license be suspended?
- 8. What If I'm Under 18 Years Old?
- 9. Will I Have A Criminal Record?
- 10. What If I Have A Prior DUI?
Knowledgeable local Santa Rosa DUI lawyers should tell you that a typical misdemeanor DUI fine in Sonoma County is approximately $2400. However, if the case is reduced or dismissed, the fine exposure may drop sharply; for example, a typical "Wet Reckless" reduction is usually around one-third of the fine in a regular Sonoma DUI case, or around $850. A typical minor zero-tolerance infraction DUI case would result in an even smaller fine.
If the case cannot be reduced or dismissed, then in order to ensure that a DUI does not cause an immediate and substantial financial burden on the defendant, the best Sonoma DUI attorneys always obtain affordable monthly payments, as little as $50, per month for our DUI clients if paying the full fine at once, or in the first 90 days, would constitute a hardship on you or your family. Of course the best way to avoid DUI court fines is to avoid a DUI conviction by beating the DUI charges outright. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.
Sonoma DUI lawyers should answer, "not necessarily right after a DUI arrest," but in a typical zero-tolerance case with no viable or successful defenses, a minor's drivers license is usually suspended for a minimum of one year after a conviction or a separate DMV adverse finding.
The best Santa Rosa DUI attorneys may offer to substantially delay any license suspension for a client under age 21 if contacted early enough in the case, and in some cases a local Santa Rosa DUI lawyer can help eliminate any actual suspension at all 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.
Can I get a hardship license? In a typical Sonoma County zero-tolerance case, with no allegation of refusal, injury or other aggravating circumstances, most minors become eligible for a critical need restricted Class "C" California license following a 30-day period of suspension by the Santa Rosa DMV if certain hardships can be shown. The best Sonoma County DUI lawyers know that the most important hardship which must be demonstrated is that public transportation is wholly inadequate (not just sorely inconvenient) to accomplish safe and practical travel to school, work or medical care of a family member.
This type of license following a Sonoma County DUI is one of a variety of special restricted driving privileges provided for special needs to minors, the elderly, commercial drivers, out of state residents, etc. Click on our Sonoma County DUI Lawyer discussions under Ten Tips for Getting Your License Back from DMV on this site for more detailed information about getting your license back in this and many other situations. Consult with a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer about your specific case.
Although DMV usually makes no distinction in age regarding license suspension procedures, juvenile DUIs are usually treated differently than adult DUIs in Sonoma County courts. The juvenile probation department in Santa Rosa is typically first to become involved, and will usually contact a juvenile and his/her parents with a letter several weeks after the arrest, requesting an interview about family life, school, and substance abuse. Click here to see an example of such a Probation Letter. A DUI lawyer may accompany the juvenile and parents to this probation interview. Click here to see a listing of Sample Juvenile Probation Interview Questions.
A decision will be made whether to recommend Sonoma County juvenile court proceedings at the Los Guilucos Juvenile Court in Santa Rosa. Click here for an in-depth look at the Larger Sonoma County Juvenile Justice Practice in the context of a 2011 hit and run fatality.
According to the Probation Department, its Intake unit reviews and evaluates reports referred to them by law enforcement agencies. The Intake Officer may choose from, or recommend to the Juvenile District Attorney, several options including 1) dismiss the matter before or at the citation hearing, 2) admonish the minor and then dismiss the charges, 3) release the minor with credit for any time served in Juvenile Hall, 4) hold the matter in abeyance and refer the minor to a diversion program, 5) place the minor on informal probation, 6) place the minor in an Early Intervention Program or 7) refer the matter to the District Attorney's office for filing of criminal charges.
If the DUI minor is referred for diversion, a number of options and community based organizations are available to assist in ensuring that the minor complies with the specific case requirements, including mental health or substance abuse counseling, payment of restitution, and completion of community service hours. A description of several diversion programs utilized by the Sonoma County Probation Department and an explanation of informal probation and the early intervention program can be viewed by accessing the department's Diversion Services web page.
If the case proceeds to a juvenile DUI finding, then click here to see a typical Juvenile Court Delinquency Finding and click here to see a typical Sonoma County Juvenile DUI Sentencing Order, which includes 6 months formal probation (including reporting to an assigned probation officer, random search & seizure terms, and random drug/alcohol testing), 40 hours community service, one-year license suspension, DUI youth classes, CHP Start Smart program, and approximately a $400 fine.
Although juvenile criminal records in Santa Rosa may be sealed at age 18, DMV records will continue to show juvenile DUI suspensions (typically one year) for at least 10 years following a Sonoma County incident. The following link is an example of a 22 year old man's DMV driving record showing one juvenile alcohol suspension with .03% alcohol (age 16), one minor DUI with .08/.07% alcohol (age 20), two suspended license cases, and one adult DUI with .11/.12% alcohol (age 22): Juvenile DMV Record. Any juvenile and parents facing an under-18 DUI or alcohol-related driving incident should speak to a local Sonoma County DUI lawyer about, among other things, which procedures will apply in a particular case, how DMV and the courts will affect the juvenile's life going forward, and how and why to seal juvenile records following resolution of a Sonoma County DUI incident. Consult with a Santa Rosa DUI attorney about your specific case.
Honest Santa Rosa DUI attorneys will tell you that every DUI case is unique, with different facts, different defendants, different arresting officers, etc. One can never know at the beginning of any DUI case what the end results will be, and whether a criminal record will exist. For example, an infraction dismissed after successful completion of certain tasks will not result in any record of conviction but may still cause a negative entry on the separate DMV record unless we also prevail in that separate matter.
By contrast, a reduction from a DUI to a misdemeanor "Wet Reckless" conviction typically will permanently remain on a criminal record, unless it is a later-sealed juvenile conviction. Note that one should always consider sealing a juvenile record as soon as possible following any adverse juvenile court findings, although juvenile DUI entries still remain on the DMV driving record. But for non-juvenile DUI misdemeanors, see also our Sonoma DUI Lawyer's discussion of DUI Expungements which, once obtained, allow non-disclosure on most private employment applications.
A compromise may be a minor's DUI zero-tolerance conviction under California Vehicle Code Section 23140 or 23136, because these are infraction charges, arguably not crimes at all, and therefore arguably not subject to disclosure on employment or housing questionnaires or to immigration consequences. See, People v. Battle, 50CA3dSupp.2, see also Wikipedia Infraction Definition, see also, ILRC Excerpt.
The best Sonoma DUI lawyers prioritize complete dismissal, or the least impactful result to minimize consequences to a minor's future by reducing or eliminating consequences in court and at DMV. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI attorney about your specific case.
The best Sonoma DUI lawyers will explain that one of the most important factors in determining the seriousness and penalty exposure of a present DUI arrest is the existence and number of prior arrests and convictions. Prior DUI convictions invite the prosecutor to seek substantially more jail, DUI classes and more intrusive probation terms. In addition, a minor with a prior alcohol-related DMV suspension usually faces a drivers license suspension with extended duration but no further eligibility for the critical need restricted license for work or school, regardless of hardship to themselves or family.
If a prior conviction was for an .08% or higher DUI, and the current Sonoma County charges also allege a full DUI at or above .08%, then a good Santa Rosa DUI lawyer would typically warn that a minor defendant should expect to face the same increased penalties in the new DUI case as an adult, including at least 30-90 days of jail (or jail alternatives with a very good Sonoma DUI attorney), and the 18-month multiple offender DUI program classes. Juvenile (under age 18) prior DUIs can substantially affect both charging and sentencing outcomes (although not usually license suspension consequences at DMV).
Different combinations of juvenile DUIs and over-18 zero tolerance minors DUIs can (and should) make a difference in the outcome of the current matter, as well as different combinations of below .08% and above .08% cases. Additional factors affecting the outcome of the current matter include the recency of the prior DUI offense and any probation violation allegations, as well as the degree of impairment and driving behavior, and any demonstrable efforts to demonstrate a commitment to sobriety. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.