top 10 questions: from non-residents
From Everyone | From Minors/Parents | From Multiple Offenders | From Non-Residents
- Must I return to Sonoma County court?
- May an officer take my home state license?
- I live in California now: Should I get a California license?
- May I drive in my home state now?
- May I drive in California now?
- Can I get a work license?
- What is a typical DUI sentence?
- Must I return to Sonoma County for jail?
- Must I complete DUI classes?
- Will my home state license be affected?
Usually no. Whether you live here or not, California law provides that a misdemeanor DUI defendant may waive his/her personal appearance and instead arrange for a private Sonoma County DUI attorney to appear on your behalf. Penal Code Section 977, and see also, Bracher, 205 CA4 1445. If you live outside Sonoma County (either in another California county or in another state), then this is one of the principal reasons to hire a private Santa Rosa DUI lawyer (unfortunately, the free public defenders require your presence at each court appearance, and you must be present to initially obtain their services anyways). Click on Ten Tips for the First 48 Hours after Arrest for the other important reasons to hire a local DUI lawyer.
Note that rarely a court may order your appearance even with your private Sonoma DUI attorney, in "appropriate cases" (usually expected when one or more prior DUIs or violation(s) of probation are alleged, and/or higher alcohol levels or other aggravating factors are present). Typically, in Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Mendocino counties, you are not required to attend a misdemeanor court (or DMV) hearing unless there is a substantial proceeding where evidence is to be formally introduced (usually only a contested hearing or actual trial proceedings). Click on 977 Waiver for an example of Sonoma County's court form authorizing an attorney to appear on your behalf.
Will your absence be noticed by the court or required by your DUI attorney? No, in most cases court appearances are strictly procedural (even clients who live here locally rarely, if ever, come to court). This doesn't mean you'll be left in the dark about your case. A good DUI attorney will explain the entire process. To start, click here to see our Sonoma DUI lawyer's comprehensive Anatomy of a Sonoma County DUI flowchart. In addition, our tech know-how can be very helpful to avoid the need for client travel, meetings or appearances in Santa Rosa. We make police reports and other case documents available to you securely online after court appearances, and most court and DMV cases can be started and finished through efficient and complete email or snail mail exchange. Review the discussions below about how we may be able to arrange for you to comply with all sentencing orders without ever being required to return to Sonoma County if there are no viable defenses in your case.
You can (and should) closely follow the progress of your Sonoma County case by regularly communicating with your attorney before and after Santa Rosa court appearances, and follow your case separately online by clicking on Resources on this site and then find your local court under "Superior Courts" by clicking on the county where you were arrested (for example, Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino or Napa), and search your name. Sonoma Courts have an online system for viewing case information and calendar dates for Santa Rosa appearances for your case. Napa Courts and Mendocino Courts have online calendars. Marin Courts have San Rafael appearances online weeks in advance. Consult with a Santa Rosa DUI attorney about your individual case.
Not usually. A good Santa Rosa DUI lawyer will explain to you that a driver license is commonly known to be the property of the state which issued it. Although Sonoma County police have the duty to confiscate a California driver license under the "stop and snatch" law (CVC 13382) following an alcohol-related DUI arrest, this authority is not extended to non-California licenses.
But all too often, Sonoma DUI lawyers see new or poorly trained law enforcement officers (often from smaller, rural police departments) make mistakes and fail to return an out-of-state license to the driver. Typically, licenses which are confiscated by Sonoma County law enforcement are forwarded to the Sacramento DMV and destroyed within days of arrest. If you held a driver license issued by a state other than California and it was not returned to you, then you should seriously consider contacting a Santa Rosa DUI attorney, such as Ryan, immediately to try to secure the return of your home state license before it is mailed from the arresting agency. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your individual case.
A knowledgeable Sonoma DUI lawyer should tell you that California law requires most people to obtain a California driver license within ten days of becoming a California resident (CVC 12505). (At least two exceptions are certain military and farm driving situations). Therefore, if your presence in the state is more than temporary or transient, and you do not have evidence that your primary residence is in another state, then you are likely required to get a California license in order to drive here legally.
In addition, as you will see below, if you intend to stay in California, then you may very well wish to obtain at least restricted driving privileges in the event that you suffer a DUI conviction in Sonoma County court or a suspension of driving privileges from the Santa Rosa DMV. Restricted "work" privileges cannot be issued for non-California licenses without substantially more bureaucratic effort; in most cases, the most straight-forward and easiest approach is to get a California license.
Therefore the best Sonoma DUI lawyers generally advise most drivers who intend to stay in California that they should immediately apply for and obtain a California driver license in order to ease the consequences of a subsequent DUI conviction or suspension, and become eligible for maximum driving privileges at the earliest opportunity. In these situations, speak to a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer about the advisability of having a new California license in hand before allowing a conviction or DMV suspension to start, in order to avoid having your temporary California License Canceled before just before issuance because of an intervening conviction resulting in a home state suspension, triggering a California cancellation. Although each person's situation is unique, a Santa Rosa DUI attorney may even be able to help Reverse a Foreign Suspension in time to prevent cancellation of a California license.
Local Sonoma DUI attorneys know our local DMV practice in Sonoma County (both Santa Rosa and Petaluma DMV field offices) has been to allow you to apply for and take the written and/or drive test(s) prior to, but not during, any actual suspension, and therefore assuring the fastest return of driving privileges typically counsels immediate application for a California license; this approach is particularly important to consider if there are no viable defenses in your Sonoma County DUI case, and this is usually the best information for those who have no prior DUIs, and for those who missed the 10-day rule for requesting a DMV hearing (the 10-day rule is described under "Contact DMV" at Ten Tips For the First 48 Hours After Arrest on this site). Ask a local Sonoma County DUI attorney if this approach would be helpful in your individual circumstances.
Click on Driver License Information to find fast information on getting a California driver's license. Click on Ten Tips For Easing the Consequences Of a DUI on this site for a detailed discussion about restricted "work" driving privileges. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific circumstances.
The most fundamental answer is that most people reading this have been cited or arrested but not convicted of anything which another state could act upon. But the answers to any questions about adverse consequences in another state, due to a Sonoma County DUI arrest, conviction or DMV suspension, require practical working knowledge about your specific home state law. Therefore you must always seek the advice of a DUI attorney licensed to practice law in your home state, or the state which issued your license, about such consequences before and after any suspension or conviction.
This is especially true because different states react differently to a Sonoma County DUI. For example, as Santa Rosa DUI attorneys understand, you will learn that there are usually two separate and independent proceedings in a typical DUI case: Sonoma County criminal court and Santa Rosa DMV. Some states typically do nothing to your home state license if the California DMV suspends your privilege to drive here, but they may act against your home state driver license immediately upon receiving notice if you actually get a court conviction. As a general rule, according to the Interstate Driver License Compact, one may anticipate that your home state will act against your license the same as if the California conviction occurred at home (CVC 15023), but the actual experience in most states varies widely.
However, understand that your home state can only act against your license if your home state knows about an adverse action in California. California is only directed to inform your home state of this incident if a conviction actually occurs (CVC 15022) or if DMV actually suspends or revokes your driving privilege here (CVC 13552).
Therefore it is very, very important to hire a local Sonoma DUI attorney to fight or navigate carefully through the court and DMV proceedings in order to try to avoid a Sonoma County conviction or Santa Rosa DMV suspension. Click on Ten Tips For the First 48 Hours After Arrest and Ten Tips For Fighting A DUI on this site for a more detailed discussion of how to avoid adverse consequences in your home state by avoiding adverse results here first. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer 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.
If you are licensed outside the state of California, then, even though you may see that the Pink Temporary License states "this temporary license does not provide you with any driving privileges if you do not have a California driver license," nonetheless you have the same right to a hearing and a stay (postponement) of any suspension of privileges as does a California licensee (CVC 13552).
Therefore, Sonoma County DUI attorneys usually advise non-California licensees that the best way to continue driving in California is to ask a Sonoma County DUI lawyer to request the DMV hearing within ten days of a DUI arrest (this process is briefly described on the face of the pink temporary license) in order to stop the automatic suspension of California driving privileges until the entire incident and supporting documentation can be examined by a local Santa Rosa lawyer to determine if there are any viable defenses.
If your Santa Rosa DUI attorney successfully obtains this postponement of suspension, then typically your driving privileges in California are extended until your matter is resolved with either an outright win, or at least with a more controlled and individually timed reimposition of a temporary suspension. 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.
- 6. Can I get a work license?
- 7. What is a typical DUI sentence?
- 8. Must I return to Sonoma County for jail?
- 9. Must I complete DUI classes?
- 10. Will my home state license be affected?
The best Sonoma DUI lawyers should explain that if you already have, or you intend to go and get, a California license, then in a typical first offense Sonoma County 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, 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, all of which are discussed on this site under Getting Your License Back.
In a typical second or third offense DUI case, most drivers may avoid suspension by obtaining the same IID restricted license. Old law prior to 2019 typically required at least 30 days of no driving for most first offenders before getting a restricted license, and typically required 90 days or six months for most second or third offenders, respectively. Old law prior to 2010 typically required at least one year of no driving prior to any kind of restricted driving privileges.
Your Santa Rosa DUI attorney will likely tell you that if you do not have a California license, then the California DMV cannot issue a restricted license from your home state. This is one of the best reasons to obtain a California license prior to an anticipated suspension for a typical first offense DUI without viable defenses, if you intend to stay in California. Highly experienced Sonoma DUI lawyers know that it is still possible, but far more complicated, to obtain California restricted driving privileges on an out-of-state driver's license.
If you reside in another state, then it is likely that there are restricted or hardship driving privileges in certain cases (check this States Suspension Chart -- nearly all states permit some kind of limited driving), but availability depends on the local laws of your home state, and such advice may only be provided by a DUI attorney licensed to practice in that state.
California DUI laws and DMV policies and practice change often, so consult with a Sonoma County 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 Santa Rosa DUI lawyer about your specific case.
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, refusals, child endangerment, evading, bad driving, 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 minimum 30 days driver license suspension, approximately $2400 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 join 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 only the 21st strictest state nationwide for DUI penalties, just about average among West Coast states, and about average for the entire western region of the United States, although penalties have tightened from only a year ago when California ranked only 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).
The best Sonoma DUI lawyers will focus their efforts for nonresidents exclusively on dismissing a DUI case, and at the very least minimizing the burden of any consequences by focusing on jail alternatives and avoiding any other requirement to return to California. 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.
The best Sonoma DUI attorneys should explain that 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.
In appropriate cases (no seriously aggravating factors alleged during the incident), a Santa Rosa lawyer may avoid a jail sentence altogether, or request that proof of legitimate community service or home confinement in another California county (or if you live outside California then in your home state) be permitted to satisfy any jail sentence, or we may inquire into other jail alternatives in your county or home state to avoid the necessity of your traveling back to Sonoma County to serve a jail sentence.
Many second and third offenders may qualify for Sonoma County's new "DUI court" designed to focus on treatment rather than incarceration, however any election to participate in this multiple offender program would require physical presence and residency in Sonoma County. If you are not a California resident, then trying to avoiding jail in Sonoma County may be the best reason to hire a private Santa Rosa DUI attorney. If you are a California resident, then click on Ten Tips For Easing the Consequences of a DUI on this site to examine these various jail alternatives where there are no viable defenses or aggravating factors in a case. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.
In a typical Sonoma County adult first offense DUI case with no allegation of refusal, injury or other aggravating circumstances, and no viable defenses, most California licensees are required to complete a DUI program consisting of weekly classes for three months, in order to comply with mandatory court probation orders (CVC 23538), and to lift the driving suspension that results at the end of a DUI case (CVC 13352.4, 13353.3). If you live in a different California county, usually a routine referral to a suitable program in your own county is available. Click on Ten Tips For Getting Your License Back on this site for a more detailed discussion about DUI classes.
But the best Sonoma County DUI lawyers know that if you live outside of California, you cannot enroll in, or complete the state-mandated DUI program of classes, because the only officially licensed and permissible DUI programs are located in California, not in your home state. Therefore, to avoid a violation of probation terms, good Santa Rosa DUI lawyers will often request a commonly allowed Sonoma County court resolution called "'self enrollment' in any DUI program required" in your home state.
This kind of creative wording should allow a non-resident to avoid violating probation for failure to timely enroll in and complete the California DUI program, but Sonoma County DUI lawyers understand that the California DMV imposes a separate and independent secondary DUI program class enrollment and completion requirement in order to lift the DMV's separate and independent driving suspension. Therefore the law includes a procedure for non-residents to lift that suspension which would otherwise remain in place until the DUI program classes were completed. A good Sonoma DUI lawyer will explain to you that once any mandatory DMV suspension period has concluded (usually six or ten months following a first DUI conviction or two years following a second DUI conviction), the driver may contact the California DMV in Sacramento and request a form, attesting to out-of-state residency, to be mailed to your non-California address. CVC 13353.5. Most recently, as of January, 2019, the California DMV provides a compete online explanation of this process, with Instructions for Termination of Action for Out-of-State Residents, including eligibility information and application requirements online, and specifically including the new online Form DL 4006: Application for Termination of Action, complete with instructions and mailing address to send it directly to the proper Sacramento DMV office so that non-residents are no longer required to try to get through on the phone to Sacramento DMV to make a live request for this form. Click here to see an old 2012 Sample Form Requesting Termination of Suspension.
Proper completion and mailing of this DL4006 form and satisfaction of related DMV requirements (in most cases, simply signing the form, enclosing adequate proof of residency, and enclosing a fee payment), typically results in the California DMV relieving the driver of the requirement to attend and complete the California DUI program and is designed to clear the California DMV record by lifting any related non-resident California suspension (see sample "Notice of Action" successfully terminating a suspension -- effectively forgiving the requirement to complete the DUI program) so that the driver may deal directly with a home state regarding any remaining requirements to full reinstatement of driving privileges. CVC 13353.5, 13 CCR 124.92-3.
If you are a non-resident, and the Sonoma County court is unwilling to allow self-enrollment, then your Santa Rosa DUI attorney may request that any DUI program requirement be satisfied with completion of an Internet DUI Program for non-California license holders. Although this type of program may only appease the court and does not satisfy the separate and independent California DMV program requirement, successful completion of the non-residency proof procedure above typically will satisfy the separate DMV requirement and accomplish the clearing of the California DMV record. There are other possible alternatives which your Sonoma DUI Attorney may discuss with you. Consult with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer about your specific case.
The best Sonoma County DUI lawyers will answer that, as discussed above in Question #4, the answers to any questions about consequences in another state, of a Sonoma County DUI arrest, conviction or adverse DMV action, require knowledge about your home state law. Therefore you must always seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your home state, or the state which issued your license, about such consequences before and after any California suspension or conviction results.
This is especially true because different states react differently to a Sonoma County DUI. For example, remember that there are two separate proceedings in a typical DUI case, Sonoma County criminal court and Santa Rosa DMV; some states typically do nothing to your home state license if the California DMV suspends your privilege to drive here, but may act against your home state license if you suffer a court conviction. As a general rule, according to the Interstate Driver License Compact, one may anticipate that your home state will act against your license the same as if the California conviction occurred at home. (CVC 15023), but the actual experience in most states vary widely.
The best Santa Rosa DUI attorneys fully understand that sometimes home state consequences can be quite severe. For example, Illinois treats out-of-state DUI convictions as the equivalent of a second DUI in Illinois with very long and cumbersome licensing suspension consequences, devastating to unsuspecting Illinois licensees. In many cases, such draconian results may be avoided with the right Sonoma DUI lawyer, working in tandem with a home state lawyer. Here is an Illinois lawyer email to one of Ryan's clients: Hey D.F., thanks for having the [California] statute forwarded to me. It appears to me that your California DUI lawyer has done an outstanding job. I am confident that the statute to which you are pleading no contest is not something that would cause Illinois to suspend or revoke your license. Your lawyer couldn't have done a better job given the circumstances. You ought to name your firstborn after him. Attorney Paul Heinrich, Geneva, Illinois. Although every case, and expected results, are unique to a particular client circumstances, it is important for your DUI lawyer to recognize and plan for these collateral consequences.
However, understand that your home state can only act against your license if your home state knows about an adverse action in Sonoma County. It is possible a state may never find out, or may decide not to act in a particular case. It is always wise to carefully examine any notice you receive from your home state licensing agency and consult with an attorney there. A knowledgeable Sonoma County DUI lawyer will often advise that it is best to end any California driving suspension as soon as possible after the minimum required time, by contacting the California DMV in Sacramento to request and return a form attesting to out-of-state residency. CVC 13353.5, 13 CCR 124.92-3.
In addition, California is only directed to inform your home state of this incident if a conviction actually occurs (CVC 15022) or if DMV actually suspends or revokes your driving privilege here (CVC 13552). This is why it is so very important to fight or carefully navigate through the court and DMV proceedings with a local Sonoma County DUI lawyer in order to try to avoid a Sonoma County conviction or Santa Rosa DMV suspension before California reporting requirements are triggered. Click on Ten Tips For the First 48 Hours After Arrest and Ten Tips For Fighting a DUI Arrest on this site for a more detailed discussion of how to avoid adverse consequences in your home state by avoiding adverse results here first. Consult with a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer about your specific case.