top ten tips: The first 48 hours after a dui

The First 48 Hours After a DUI | Getting Your Driver's License Back | Easing the Consequences of a DUI | Fighting a Sonoma DUI

  1. Write a Detailed Narrative Account of the Incident
  2. Hire a Sonoma DUI Lawyer
  3. Why is contacting DMV so important?
  4. Calendar Court Date
  5. Save the Pink Temporary License
  6. Look for and Preserve Physical Evidence
  7. Photograph the Scene
  8. Fix Trigger Problems
  9. Avoid Fear & Stress
  10. Don't Act on Casual or Bad Advice

Write a Detailed Narrative Account of the IncidentDefenses rely on specific facts, but memory begins to fade immediately. A top Sonoma County DUI attorney will tell you that it is really, really important to immediately write down an honest account of what happened and include everything leading up to the initial encounter with Sonoma County law enforcement and during and after. Defenses are in the details, and also, later testimony is more credible in front of a Sonoma jury or the Santa Rosa DMV hearing officer if you remember more than only the facts which establish a particular defense. The more details you remember, the better the chances of identifying defenses, appearing more credible, and winning a case in Sonoma County.

It is always best when discussing facts which could have adverse legal consequences that you maximize confidentiality. Write "confidential attorney-client communication" at the beginning of the narrative and send it to your Santa Rosa DUI lawyer during the first two weeks following the arrest.

Who, what, where, when and how

You can begin to see why this Tip for how to write your narrative is so extensive if you review Ten Tips to Fight a Sonoma County DUI, on this site and understand that we are trying to find the facts which establish one or more of the many ways to defend a DUI. So in your narrative of what happened, Sonoma County DUI attorneys want you to focus on the who, what, where, and when. Where had you been prior to driving, and where were you headed? Where were you before the driving which resulted in the police contact? What time did you arrive at the last location and what time did you leave before the police contact? Who were you with, who saw you leave? Always include how you remember each time or event: was it at last call? 10 minutes after closing time? Do you remember looking at your watch or car clock, or did someone remark on the time? Time stamp on a bar receipt? Credit card record? Cell phone record?

Include for your Sonoma County DUI lawyer your route of travel, and any recollection of traffic conditions in Sonoma County. When and where did you first see Sonoma County law enforcement, precisely when did you see red police lights or otherwise believe you were no longer free to leave, specific words exchanged, why were you pulled over, or if you were already stopped or parked prior to seeing the police, then why, and precisely when and where did you stop (include how you recall the time), whether it was a deserted or busy area? Who was with you before and during the arrest?

Finally, include seemingly irrelevant recollections such as your clothing, the weather, and how you were feeling that day; this kind of information may be useful for your Sonoma County DUI lawyer. Who was the arresting agency: Sonoma CHP, Sonoma County Sheriff, Sonoma State University police, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Cloverdale police or another local agency? A "turn over" to CHP or other combination of Sonoma County police agencies?

Vehicle accidents

If you were in an accident in Sonoma County, your Sonoma DUI attorney will want you to include in your narrative details such as location, who was at fault, who phoned for help, precisely what time of day or night did the accident happen (check and keep phone records and receipts), who arrived at the scene first, how long did it take for the first witness or police to show up, how many Sonoma County police or emergency agencies were finally present, did you see any injuries, was the accident scene rural or in town, deserted or were there people or cars passing by, did the police engage traffic diversion procedures, road blocks, etc.

Eating, drinking, medications

Include for your Santa Rosa DUI lawyer a description of any medications you were taking and/or physical or mental conditions you may have. Include a description of your eating and drinking (including drinking while driving and/or especially drinking after driving), where, what, how much, and actual time of start and finish for each meal and for each drink, and/or medication, duration from time of last drink to time of driving to time of first Sonoma County police contact and from time of driving to time of blood and/or breath tests, location, estimated time, and results of each breath or blood test.

Field sobriety tests

A good Santa Rosa DUI attorney will want you to include a description of each field sobriety test which you performed. These typically include the eye exam (follow a finger or pen with your eyes), walk and turn, and one leg stand (raise one foot 6 inches and count out loud). Others may include the modified Romberg balance test (feet together, head tilted back, close eyes, estimate 30 seconds), finger to nose with eyes closed, finger tapping, hand clapping, and reciting or writing the alphabet.

Include what the Sonoma County law enforcement officer said to you before and after, whether the officer told you that you did not have to complete them, whether s/he demonstrated each test prior to asking you to perform them, and any variations between the video demonstrations and your actual experience. Include the pre-arrest breath testing (called a preliminary alcohol screening "PAS" test, which is typically considered the last field sobriety test, as contrasted with the post-arrest breath and/or blood tests which actually are the ones that "count" against you).

If drugs are part of this case (legal or illegal) then include dosages prior to the incident, any prescriptions or recommendations, and whether during or after the arrest the Sonoma County law enforcement officer took your pulse or other vitals and/or held a card to your face to measure pupil size or examined your body in any way.

Post-arrest breath and blood testing

Include in your narrative what you were told by Sonoma County law enforcement at each stage of your encounter, and how you responded or reacted. Indicate precisely what the officer said regarding post-arrest breath and then blood and urine testing, and if you provided one or more breath tests, did the Sonoma County law enforcement officer inform you thereafter that you have a right to a blood test. State whether you ingested anything just before a breath test, such as alcohol, mouthwash/mints, chewing tobacco, smoking, food. Also include information if you suffered reflux, belching, or you were physically ill at the time of, or just before, a breath test.

Refusal cases

Your Sonoma DUI attorney will tell you that DUI cases where you failed to provide any breath, blood or urine test after the arrest increases your penalty exposure with additional jail time, and at least one year of no driving whatsoever, regardless of hardship to you or others. Therefore it is critical that you recall and document for your Sonoma DUI lawyer the precise language used by the officer and your precise responses with respect to any discussion of your obligation to perform a chemical test after arrest, and the consequence of failing to provide a test.

Documents and evidence

Include documents you were handed during or after the arrest (of course, keep copies of everything). Include a description of any physical evidence of recent alcohol consumption which may have been in your vehicle (especially if you drank after driving but prior to police contact) such as half-empty beer cans in the car, empty liquor bottles, receipts from stores or bars or restaurants, etc. If such evidence exists, make sure you preserve or retrieve it, or if it's already gone, then describe it in detail including names of anyone who may have seen such evidence.

Ask friends, bartenders, store clerks, and other witnesses now if you don't remember certain details. Their memories fade quickly too.

If you believe you have a substantial defense, then any good Sonoma County DUI lawyer whom you work with will want a full description of the details and the circumstances of the defense, and any witnesses, including their phone numbers. It is easier to get contact information to your Sonoma DUI attorney now rather than two months from now.


  1. Hire a Sonoma DUI Lawyer

Protect your own interests

Getting a local Sonoma County DUI lawyer gives you your best shot at beating a DUI in the local Sonoma Superior Court, and protecting your driver's license at the Santa Rosa DMV. All of the other parties to your case have their own agendas: the arresting officer, the DMV, the Sonoma County District Attorney and the Sonoma County Judge. For a more detailed discussion of the police agenda, see Ryan's discussion in this Top Ten Tips series: Don't Follow Bad Advice. The judge and assistant district attorney who are examining your case are both highly disciplined and experienced lawyers, and, together with the DMV hearing officer assigned to your case, all of these local DUI authorities who are about to make decisions about the outcome of your matter are guided by much broader public safety considerations than just you or your own personal hardship, family needs or future job security.

Sonoma County DUI attorneys are specifically hired to protect you in every practical way. Not only can the outcome of a Sonoma County DUI affect you for the rest of your life, but in addition, all kinds of unexpected complications in Sonoma DUI cases can trip you up, and all kinds of shortcuts exist making it easier for you to comply with far less pain at the end of the day; only Sonoma DUI lawyers are uniquely positioned to navigate you through this situation, and no one has the expertise to go it alone.

Would you perform medical procedures on yourself? Engineer your own home? Fix your own plumbing or electrical problems? Sue a big company without a good lawyer on your side? We hire professionals to address and properly fix all kinds of problems in our lives, expertly and correctly from beginning to end, with minimum confusion and stress, with maximum information and flexibility, the options and execution you need right now. Don't follow casual advice from friends or try to do this yourself; you should have a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer looking out for your own best interests and easing the consequences so that you may move on with the least stress and inconvenience.

Public defenders. If you really cannot afford to hire a private Sonoma County DUI lawyer, then it's almost always advisable to appear at the first court date in the Sonoma County courthouse and when your case is called by the judge, don't try to explain your case or circumstances or ask for a break, but rather, at the very first moment that you are permitted to speak, simply ask for the Sonoma County Public Defender to be appointed.

Note: Sonoma County public defenders do not handle DMV proceedings in Santa Rosa or elsewhere, and typically you are not permitted to speak with them prior to your first court appearance. Also, typically you have to physically go to court for the first appearance and every proceeding in your case, as opposed to private Sonoma DUI lawyers who go for you while you go to work or stay home. However, although public defenders get a bad rap because they typically can't spend as much time with you as compared to a private DUI lawyer, nevertheless their service is excellent and highly valued.

Representing yourself. Although you have a constitutional right to represent yourself according to the US Supreme Court's Faretta Ruling, understand that in any civil or criminal case, it is nearly always considered a mistake to represent yourself in court. This is because the other side (in Sonoma County criminal cases, the other side is the State of California) has its own highly trained lawyer (the District Attorney), with a bank of assistant lawyers and staff, but you don't have such support if you represent yourself, and therefore you are at a severe disadvantage. In addition, one is always biased and sympathetic to one's own personal situation, and unable to objectively advise yourself of your own best interests. This is true even for defendants who are themselves lawyers and is the fundamental reason why "a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." See also the Sonoma County Superior Court's Faretta Waiver advisements and warnings if you still wish to consider this ill-advised alternative to affordable counsel.

DUIs are actually very complicated

If you don't see how involved and complex even a first DUI can be in Sonoma County without a lawyer, then click on our Sonoma DUI Lawyer Anatomy of a DUI on this site and see the many different directions a Sonoma case can go, as well as the collection of obligations, timetables and tasks to perform. A local Sonoma DUI attorney who can guide you through the maze of bureaucratic doo-doo, not to mention the possibility of getting charges reduced or dismissed, is well worth the expense. Your situation requires an attorney knowledgeable in the precise area of the law in which you find yourself. Consider just a sample listing of possible DUI defenses on this site by clicking on Ten Tips for Fighting a Sonoma County DUI. A DUI should be handled by a criminal defense lawyer who regularly defends DUI cases in your courtroom.

Here's what a Sonoma County lawyer does for you

A private DUI lawyer will go to Sonoma Superior Court or traffic court for you and in most Sonoma County cases you don't ever have to appear. This is particularly helpful if you don't live in Sonoma County. A private Sonoma DUI lawyer should also handle the DMV case for you so you don't have to yourself (these hearings are usually litigated in the Santa Rosa or Petaluma satellite DMV offices). The value of this convenience and the possibility of a Sonoma DUI lawyer successfully obtaining lower or dismissed charges and protecting your driver license, is well worth a reasonable Sonoma attorney fee (typically in the $1500-$2500 range for any straight-forward 1st or 2nd DUI in Sonoma County).

Any good Sonoma County DUI defense lawyer will closely examine the Sonoma County Superior Court complaint against you and the police report completed by Sonoma County law enforcement, looking for any glaring or less obvious defenses, and then sit down with you for as long as you need, explain everything to you and ask you to make your own decisions after you understand the issues, likelihood of success, possible additional costs if any, and probable risks and consequences. A good Sonoma DUI lawyer will help you navigate the minefield of possibilities, get you through the bureaucratic mess which is present in every Sonoma County DUI arrest case, help you understand the multiple tasks facing you, and coordinate the timing of tasks and resolutions, to get all of this behind you from arrest to resolution with the least amount of stress and pain.

Why is using a local attorney so important? Choose carefully

A local DUI lawyer who lives and practices in Sonoma County is far better than one based in Marin, San Francisco or LA, because lawyers who regularly practice DUI law in Sonoma know how the Santa Rosa DMV, and how the Sonoma County judges and Sonoma County District Attorney react to certain cases, and we know the available options and procedures here in Sonoma County which often vary widely in different counties. For example, a standard no-defenses second DUI in Sonoma County is typically sentenced to thirty days of jail, but all of the time may be served by volunteering with the county if you are not otherwise ineligible. By comparison, in Marin County the typical sentence for the same charges is fifteen days instead of thirty, and four days must be served in actual custody. Napa's typical sentence for a second DUI is only ten days of jail, all of which may be served with a jail alternative. Local Santa Rosa lawyers who actually live and practice in Sonoma County know Sonoma County DUI practices and procedures.

If you don't see how the wrong DUI lawyer can be a catastrophe, click here to see an authentic Bad DUI Lawyer Email Sent to Ryan complaining about a remote lawyer, missed court appearance, arrest warrant, ridiculous DMV phone hearing resulting in a two-year license suspension, total disaster.

Ask questions, and choose carefully; here's another real statement, from one of Ryan's former clients: "I also wanted to share something that you may or may not wish to add to the testimonial (if you've used it). Since being in the DUI program, I've come across a wide range of folks who have had varying experiences with their lawyers. Every time someone shares a story, I am even more grateful than ever that I sought you out and that you agreed to take my case. I've heard stories from people whose lawyers won't answer any questions after court, who wouldn't appear for them in court (it's possible that they weren't allowed to I suppose) or who gave such minimal information that they have been left to navigate much of the DUI laws and DMV processes by themselves. So, thank you again for all of your help, your honesty and bluntness, and your follow up."

Don't pay extra by being fooled into hiring a smooth talking "big name" criminal lawyer based in another county like San Mateo, Marin, San Francisco or Los Angeles to whom you pay more money so that he or she can hopefully accomplish the exact same result as a Sonoma County DUI defense attorney, or worse yet they turn around and hire a local Sonoma no-name contract lawyer to appear for you. The quality of representation might be adequate but still a waste of additional money and an unwanted additional layer of people and miscommunications.

If you wish to test whether your prospective lawyer is truly knowledgeable and local, ask how many offices he/she has, where his/her primary business office is located, how often he/she appears personally in Sonoma as compared to other courts, when was the last time he/she physically stood in front of a Sonoma County judge on behalf of a client arrested for DUI, at which DMV office he/she conducts DMV hearings, and what is his/her personal understanding of a standard no-defenses DUI sentence in Sonoma County. The answers should be immediate, specific, and confidently provided to you.

Don't go to court for a DUI. Let your lawyer go instead

It is much easier for you (and well worth it) if you do not have to take time off work and attend a stressful and confusing appearance in Santa Rosa Superior Court if your DUI attorney determines that there is no other reason for you to attend. Most court appearances are boring for non-lawyers, and the first appearance in Sonoma County is usually only meant to trade papers and information and set new dates, not to argue anything of substance. Typically in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County 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). A DUI arrest need not ever result in a requirement that a defendant appear in court, not even for sentencing in Sonoma County. This is also true in our surrounding counties of Marin, Napa, Mendocino and Solano.

Will your absence be noticed by the court or required by your attorney? No, as discussed above, in most cases court appearances are strictly procedural. Unless special circumstances are present (such as a high blood alcohol level alleged, multiple priors, or a violation of probation), judges do not wish to speak to a defendant at such proceedings. Clients who live in Santa Rosa or elsewhere in 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 attorney 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. If requested, we .pdf police reports and other case documents to you after court appearances so that you can examine these important documents and provide feedback to help us to help you.

You can (and should) closely follow the progress of your Sonoma County case by regularly communicating with your DUI lawyer 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, Napa or Mendocino), and search 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.

Beware the driver license sting operations

Important!! If you have a suspended license, don't drive, and if you drive to court in Sonoma, you stand a chance of being arrested in one of Sonoma County's sting operations where Santa Rosa and Sonoma County police agents watch in court and radio to officers hiding in the shadows nearby, waiting to stop you when you drive away from the courthouse.

These stings typically happen at random times throughout the year and result in huge additional headaches (including impounded vehicle and more jail time) for those caught. Click here if you don't believe it! Santa Rosa Court Sting. This photograph was taken by Ryan outside of his office, just one block from the courthouse, right before Christmas (no heart) as CHP and Santa Rosa Police Department motorcycle cops waited for radio descriptions of suspended license defendants driving away. According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, in an article questioning such aggressive tactics, 10 people were arrested that day, and the police have continued these stings at least a few times per year ever since then. One DUI client told his Sonoma County DUI lawyer about a similar sting at the DUI program classes. A recent Napa Register news article announced such a court sting in Napa County. Have a local DUI lawyer appear for you in court instead of risking new charges.

Bail companies and lawyers

Typically people arrested for DUI in Sonoma County are either released by police on their own recognizance ("OR") after being processed, or post bail to be released. Bail is supposed to be set by the jailer pursuant to the Sonoma County Bail Schedule which lists most possible charges and the presumptive bail amount for each charge. You can click here to see Sonoma County's specific 2019 Bail Amounts for DUI and other Vehicle Code Charges. These amounts can go up or down depending on a variety of factors relating to a case, and can also change from year to year. If someone arrested for DUI is not released on OR, or cannot bail out and is due to appear in court while still in custody, then most likely bail would be set at the first court appearance, or the person arrested for DUI may be released on a more comprehensive form of OR called "Supervised Own Recognizance" ("SOR" or "Conditions of Pre-Trial Release"), where the Santa Rosa judge imposes special SOR Conditions on the defendant's release. Often a Sonoma County DUI attorney may take the opportunity to save an arrestee or family large sums of money by arguing that such conditions will be better for the defendant and the community than posting lots of bail money.

Sometimes, someone arrested for a DUI in Sonoma County may not be able to get out of jail immediately, or at all, unless they post bail. A friend or loved one can usually post 10% of the stated bail for someone who is in jail. See, for example, the San Rafael's Zig Zag Bail Agreement & Application. See also Santa Rosa's Aladdin Bail Bonds FAQ's for answers to frequent questions about bail. See also Santa Rosa's Romelli Bail Bonds FAQ's. Good Sonoma DUI lawyers will tell you that some Sonoma County bail companies will refund money to you if you hire a private Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Most bail companies offer an 8% rate rather than a 10% rate (they will give you back 20% of what you paid, typically a $100 refund on the normal $500 bail premium) if you hire a private Sonoma County DUI attorney, probably because it's more likely the case will resolve properly with a local DUI lawyer involved. Greg Rynerson Bail Bonds and Bad Boys Bail Bonds actually offer a 7% rate if you hire a private Sonoma County DUI lawyer.

You can call or visit your Sonoma bail company office to inquire about its rate chart (California Department of Insurance states such fees are to be posted in a visible location in every bail bond office) and see if obtaining a DUI lawyer (or being a member of a union or the military) gets you a lower rate. Click below to see examples of the forms used by local bail companies in Sonoma County:

Bad Boys Certificate of 7% Premium

Aladdin Certificate of 8% Premium

Romelli Certificate of 8% Premium

Typically, you can only qualify for the lower Sonoma County private DUI defense attorney rate if you act within a specified time. For example, Aladdin's lower private attorney rate is usually only available if the private lawyer was retained within 30 days of the date that the bail was issued and proof of such retention is received by the bail company within a reasonable time.

Good DUI lawyers will inform you that laws related to right to bail by people arrested for a DUI in Sonoma County are generally found in Penal Code Sections 1268-1320.5. Bail companies are regulated by the California Department of Insurance. Department regulations may be found in the California Code of Regulations at Title 10, chapter 5, subchapter 1, article 2, sections 2053-2104. You may find bail company license information and any recent enforcement actions by the Department by clicking on Bail Agent License Status, and answers to some of the more common questions by clicking Bail Faq's. Click on Court Appearances to see a discussion on this site regarding how bail companies and Sonoma County DUI lawyers can help efforts to clear a warrant for a failure to appear in court following a DUI arrest.

Don't pay a reimbursement bill from a police agency or hospital before speaking to a lawyer!

You might get a bill from the police. Some police agencies routinely mail reimbursement bills to attempt to recoup costs for arresting you! Even though you may be a Sonoma County taxpayer and may have already paid for the police department, the police car, and the salary of the police officer whose DUI arrest you are now fighting, still, in these tough economic times Sonoma County agencies may try to bill you for reimbursement of their costs for the actual DUI arrest incident pursuant to Government Code Section 53150. Click below to see examples:

CHP DUI Invoice

CHP DUI Invoice-Second Notice

Rohnert Park Police DUI Invoice

Petaluma Police DUI Invoice

Santa Rosa Police DUI Invoice

Sebastopol Police DUI Invoice

Although an invoice pursuant to this law may be valid if emergency personnel were required to respond to a DUI incident (for example an ambulance, paramedics or fire trucks responding to an accident scene, or more CHP or Santa Rosa police officers responded in order to manage traffic interruption due to a DUI incident), nevertheless, the California Court of Appeals for Sonoma County has ruled that an ordinary arrest for DUI is not a sufficient trigger event to require reimbursement to Sonoma County law enforcement under this law. See, California Highway Patrol v. Superior Court (Allende) (1st Dist 2006) 135 C.A.4th 488.

An Example. A Sonoma County CHP invoice received by one of Ryan's DUI clients who was subjected to a typical, uneventful DUI arrest, stated that "the defendant herein shall pay to CHP the total indicated below" listing 5.2 personnel hours and a total due of $469.33. After reviewing this client's incident, and the invoice received, Ryan was outraged by the intimidating and misleading "defendant shall pay CHP" language in the DUI invoice from an agency whose leaders are sworn to uphold and enforce the law; he advised this individual client not to pay the bill based on the facts in her case, and fired off a Counsel's Reply Letter on her behalf.

Although failure to pay may result in a debt collection lawsuit (civil, not criminal case), or may cause an item to be referred to the Franchise Tax Board or a collection agency (click to see City of Santa Rosa Refers to Collection Agency and a Sample Reply Letter), risking a negative credit incident (many people may never hear from the police agency again, especially if the arrest was in fact uneventful), such possible risks may be addressed, minimized and/or negated with vigilance and protest when the claimed debt is disputed and invalid on its face.

Update: 2011 Allende II Ruling: On December 9, 2011, the Court of Appeals for Sonoma County DUI cases re-examined the issue of when CHP can recoup costs for DUI-related incidents, in Allende v. Dept of California Highway Patrol ("Allende II"), and upheld the CHP's latest policy, to seek DUI cost recovery "for any incident in which an officer is dispatched to a call resulting in a DUI arrest of a driver."

To the dismay of Sonoma County DUI lawyers, the Allende II court embraced the CHP's "Fox Guarding the Chicken Coup" approach to when CHP can collect money from citizens whom they arrest for DUI, writing about the circular "wisdom of deferring to CHP expertise" in this self-interested cost inquiry, noting the CHP's stated internal policy where "the CHP has instituted an internal appeal process under which arrested drivers may challenge an officer's initial determination that an incident qualifies for cost recovery. According to the evidence presented to the court, "when [the CHP] send[s] out an Emergency Response Cost invoice under the CHP's Cost Recovery Program, and disputes arise over the propriety of the invoice, [it] has established procedures for investigating, reviewing, and resolving such disputes . . . ." For example, if "the dispute involves a contention . . . that no emergency response to an incident was involved, [the CHP] will put the invoice on hold and forward a copy of the invoice file (including the dispute letter) to the area office from which the incident arose. Information is requested from the area office so that an appropriate response can be made. If it is determined that the invoice was mistakenly issued, [the CHP] will cancel the invoice and inform the disputant of that fact. If the area office believes the invoice was properly issued and the disputant does not agree, or if the contention involves a dispute regarding the Government Code, the matter may be referred to the CHP's legal office. The CHP's counsel will then review the materials. When the CHP's counsel concludes an invoice was not appropriate, the charges are cancelled."

Allende II also upheld the specific formula for determining the amount of reimbursement in a Sonoma County DUI arrest, where "CHP calculates annually a standard hourly rate for its officers by taking the monetary wages paid to a mid-step traffic officer, adding the cost of benefits (retirement contributions, health insurance, workers compensation and Medicare contributions) and dividing that amount by an officer's "total actual working time," which includes the total number of hours an average officer works after subtracting paid time off for holidays, vacations and other leave."

Although the latest case law has emboldened police agencies to invoice DUI arrestees more often, Santa Rosa DUI attorneys are following these developments and are in the best position to advise someone arrested for a DUI in Sonoma County who subsequently receives a bill from a local police agency for the type of DUI cost recovery described here. It is still possible to dispute the most overreaching invoices: see, for example, a "middle finger" letter written by Ryan on behalf of Santa Rosa DUI client regarding a CHP invoice for an alleged DUI incident which was never charged in court or pursued at DMV: Dispute Letter When No Charges Filed. You can see that hiring a Sonoma DUI lawyer can be very beneficial to deal with all manner of unanticipated challenges.

You might get a bill from the hospital. Often a Santa Rosa DUI arrest involves a blood test, because the arresting officer placed you in custody and ordered you to give a blood sample, either because a breath test was unavailable, or because you chose the blood test rather than the breath test, or because the officer informed you (as they are required) that the breath-testing equipment does not retain any sample of the breath and that no breath sample will be available after the test which could be analyzed later by you or your Sonoma County DUI lawyer, and because no breath sample is retained, you have the opportunity to provide a blood or urine sample that will be retained at no cost to you so that there will be something retained that may be subsequently analyzed for the alcoholic content of your blood. See Vehicle Code Section 23614.

If you are commanded to provide a blood test (or told that the law requires you to choose), then you have not freely elected to choose and should not be required to pay for it. Further, the fact that the police do not have access to their own medical staff, or to a paramedic response (many police agencies do have such access), does not mean that you should have to pay for alternative hospital staff to perform the blood draw while you are in state custody exercising a right protected by law which specifically states that there will be no cost to you.

Finally, you may have signed a hospital form promising to be financially responsible for the blood draw. The above arguments should be equally applicable, since your presence at the hospital and subsequent paperwork and medically unnecessary procedures were not the product of your own free will. If you receive a hospital bill for a blood draw in the context of a Sonoma County DUI arrest, then you should discuss it with a Sonoma County DUI attorney before paying it. Click here for an example of a Hospital Bill for Blood Draw. Always discuss your individual circumstances with a Sonoma County DUI lawyer because the unique facts of your case may affect the actual legal advice you need.

DUI defendants should always consult with a Sonoma DUI lawyer about the individual circumstances of an arrest before being intimidated into paying any such invoices from Sonoma County, or state law enforcement agencies, or a medical institution.


  1. Why is contacting DMV so important?

The best Santa Rosa DUI lawyers will explain to you at the beginning of your first conversation that, in nearly all Sonoma County DUI arrests, the arresting officer confiscates your driver's license and gives you a pink carbon copy of a notice of suspension and temporary license, unless you have an out-of-state license or the alleged DUI is only drug-related, or there is otherwise no or very low alcohol testing. Click here to see a real example of this type of notice: Pink Temporary License. The Pink Temporary License is also discussed in Tip #5 above. 

The last paragraph of the pink license (look for the heading "Hearing Information" towards the bottom, as pictured here) states that you have only 10 days from the date you received the notice to ask the DMV for a hearing (it's called an Administrative Per Se "APS" hearing) in Santa Rosa or Petaluma in order to stop the DMV's automatic suspension or revocation of your driving privileges in the State of California. Usually this 10-day period starts on the DUI arrest date, but not always -- check the written "Detention/Arrest Date" at the top of the pink license itself. There is no reference to business days, so this "10-Day Rule" means ten calendar days (although there may be rare exceptions, see below). This DMV suspension or revocation is otherwise automatic on the day your pink license expires, and is entirely different and independent from the court's proceedings. For example, you might win in court later if your Sonoma County DUI attorney succeeds in having your case dismissed, but still lose your license because of this separate DMV APS proceeding and DUI suspension.

Click on Ten Tips To Get Your License Back on this site for a detailed explanation of the differences between the APS suspension and the Sonoma County court's separate conviction-related suspension. You will begin to see why hiring a local Santa Rosa DUI lawyer to defend you at the Santa Rosa DMV and in Sonoma County Superior Court is a good idea.

If you hire a Sonoma DUI lawyer then the lawyer can (and should) contact the San Francisco DMV for you, but usually you or your lawyer must request this hearing within 10 days of your DUI arrest or service of the pink notice and license, in order to be certain to preserve your right to challenge any DMV license suspension later at the Santa Rosa or Petaluma DMV. If you miss this deadline, then in most cases you lose any ability to completely protect your driving privileges. Usually, early in a DUI case before we know how the arresting officer will describe the incident, the best defensive strategy is to aggressively preserve all of your options by means such as a timely and proper request for a Santa Rosa DMV hearing as soon as possible after the DUI arrest.

Obtaining a stay on the pending suspension

Typically the pink temporary license handed out after a DUI arrest gives the holder 30 days of driving privileges (assuming you are otherwise validly licensed). But what about after that 30 days? If your Santa Rosa DUI lawyer successfully requests the DMV hearing within the first 10 days from the date of the DUI arrest, then the DMV is usually required to stay (postpone) the suspension which would have been imposed following expiration of the 30-day pink temporary license, and send the arrestee a New Temporary License which is intended to allow driving until the outcome of the hearing. In Sonoma County, these new temporary licenses are usually issued once your Sonoma DUI attorney sets the date of this requested hearing a few weeks after first contacting DMV. The new replacement temporary license usually lasts about four months from the date of issue. The new temporary license can be extended or shortened by your Sonoma DUI lawyer depending on when the DMV hearing issues are expected to be resolved.

Public defenders do not handle DMV

If you decide you want a Sonoma DUI attorney but you intend to ask for a public defender to provide for your defense because you believe you qualify financially for a court-appointed lawyer, then understand that the Sonoma County public defenders do not handle DMV cases and do not have nearly as much experience as most private DUI lawyers defending DUIs at the DMV. And even if they could handle DMV in a different world, they are nearly always appointed only after you personally appear in Santa Rosa court, usually well after the 10 days from arrest, but the fact is that Sonoma County public defenders only handle Sonoma County criminal cases, and Santa Rosa DMV is a separate administrative law proceeding to lose or protect your driver license.

How to request the hearing

Note that different attorneys might provide different types of information to DMV about you and your incident depending on the unique circumstances of your case, so if you are going to hire a Sonoma County DUI attorney inside the ten-day period following arrest, then asking your attorney to accomplish this hearing request on your behalf allows him/her to proceed as they are most comfortable, given the facts of your case and in your best interests.

If you still wish to do this yourself, then you may telephone the DMV at the number provided on your temporary license (or click here for info on how to Contact a DMV Driver Safety Office), and then follow up with such confirmation as a written certified return receipt mailing to the proper address on the temporary license. To be effective, you may want to include in the mailing your name, driver's license number, and date of arrest. To preserve all of your options, you may specifically request an "in-person" hearing in Santa Rosa or Petaluma (assuming you live in Sonoma County or will be hiring a local attorney). If you are still considering hiring a DUI attorney, you may inform the DMV of this so that they can wait to schedule the hearing directly with your Sonoma County DUI lawyer at a time that is mutually available.

To be fully prepared, you may also request "discovery" which is the packet of information which will be used by local Santa Rosa or Petaluma DMV to support the ultimate decision whether to suspend your license. By asking for the discovery, you will be able to see what documents the DMV has collected to be used against you, including what the Santa Rosa or Sonoma County law enforcement officer said about your case, his/her reasons for pulling you over or first encountering you, your performance on any field sobriety tests, and the results of any blood or breath alcohol tests, etc.

Don't be discouraged by confusing or incomplete advice, or unexpected questions

Don't be discouraged by the constant busy signals, or long-winded recordings, and, as discussed in Tip #10 ("Don't Follow Bad Advice") on this site, don't be discouraged from asserting your rights in person if, for example, a Sonoma County police officer, or Sacramento or San Francisco DMV phone operator, or Santa Rosa DMV counter clerk states that you don't "need to" or "have to" get a DUI DMV hearing, and you should just "wait" until you receive a DUI suspension notice from DMV.

During a new client call, one Santa Rosa woman arrested for DUI told Sonoma DUI lawyer Ryan, "I called the number this morning and asked if I should have a hearing date, and the DMV lady said "It's up to you, why, are you disputing it?" So I said "No, I got a DUI so I guess not," and she said "Your license is valid now for 30 days, and then you'll be suspended for 30 more days, and after that you can go to the DMV and ask for a work license." So I was all confused and decided to call you."

Same story, different actors, on another new client DUI lawyer call, a Sonoma County DUI client told Ryan, "I called the number on the pink temporary license, but the DMV operator said, "Is there any reason why you believe the DUI charges are not true?" The client then asked Ryan, "Are they going to laugh at me during the hearing?"

Another client on her first DUI lawyer call told Ryan that, when she tried to get her DMV hearing set up within the first 10 days after arrest, "They told me that I would have to set up an appointment but I should just wait until I go to court to figure out what to do with my license, so come back in 30 days to see if I can get a restricted license."

Another client, during his DUI attorney call, told Ryan that, when he called for the DUI DMV hearing, "The guy said that if you have had a drink and then drive, then you are drunk driving; most people try to put it behind them and move on."

Another client, during her first DUI attorney call, related that when she called to ask for a hearing, the DMV employee stated "Here's what you do: get an SR-22 and you'll get your license back!"

A good Sonoma County DUI lawyer will explain to you that not only is this kind of "advice" completely over-simplified, confusing and intimidating, but in addition, if you don't successfully ask for a hearing and challenge the Santa Rosa DMV administrative suspension, you will lose any possibility to take control of the process and you will lose the opportunity to protect yourself from a DUI license suspension. If you follow such advice, or fall victim to this manipulation, you will lose valuable rights that could have saved you.

Beyond 10 days?

If you believe you are already outside of 10 calendar days from the date of your DUI arrest, you should contact a local Sonoma County DUI lawyer immediately to see if you still have time or otherwise fall within a limited number of exceptions to the 10-day rule.

For example, even though the ten days have expired, the citing officer may have failed to serve you with, or incorrectly completed, the "Administrative Per Se Suspension/Revocation Order And Temporary Driver License," otherwise known as the "pink temporary license" (see Tip #5). If the pink license was never given to you, or was incorrectly filled out by the arresting officer, or was in the wrong language, the DMV may send you a "14-Day Re-Notice" with a renewed opportunity to request a DMV hearing to challenge the pending suspension. Click here to see this "14-Day Re-Notice" (the important language is boxed in the sample pictured here), and see also this same concept with a 10-Day DMV Re-Notice (often received in refusal cases and probation violation cases).

Another example is if your 10th day from the date of your Sonoma DUI arrest falls on a weekend or recognized holiday, in which case you may have one or more extra days to preserve your right to fight the pending suspension. You can see that it may not be too late to try to save your license if it is about to be suspended. A Sonoma County DUI lawyer can help you move properly and quickly in this regard.

Be sure DMV has your correct mailing address

If DMV has an old mailing address (for example, outside of Sonoma County) then you might not receive critical notices providing a time-sensitive right to a hearing (sometimes only 10 days), or giving you a date for the start of a suspension, or sending you a new temporary or permanent license, which are usually sent to you at your address on record at DMV.

Because the vehicle code requires you to provide a change of address to DMV within 10 days of obtaining a new address, you are not permitted to complain if DMV sends important documents to an old address on record. In order to allow your Sonoma County DUI lawyer to react quickly and challenge wrong or unfair decisions or planned actions against you, you must ensure that DMV has your correct address, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. You can visit the Santa Rosa or Petaluma satellite DMV office to submit a Sonoma County change of address, or click here to Update Your Address Online, if DMV has an old address.


  1. Calendar Court Date

One of the first questions from a good Sonoma County DUI lawyer will be "what is your first court date?" If you don't know the first court date, or worse, you ignore your first court date in Santa Rosa, or forget to appear in Sonoma County Superior Court, then the court will most likely immediately issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Such a development would likely lead to severe inconvenience to you (including arrest and incarceration), and would later look bad to the court. We prefer to have a Judge smile rather than frown at the first court appearance. Private Santa Rosa DUI attorneys appear for their clients in Sonoma County Superior Court (and sometimes in Traffic or Juvenile Court too) to ensure that no warrant is issued, to protect any bail you posted, and to start your case properly in front of the court, sparing you the embarrassment, stress and inconvenience of having to personally appear on your own.

The Sonoma County Criminal Court location where Sonoma DUI lawyers appear for you (or where you would appear on your own if you choose not to hire a lawyer) following a DUI arrest is here:

Court Date on Citation

If you were not taken to the county jail, but rather you were released at the scene, or released later from a local police station, then you were likely handed a citation or "Notice to Appear," that looks much like a typical speeding ticket. If you were handed such a citation, then you can find your first court date at the bottom of that paper. Click below to see samples of typical Sonoma County citations showing an arrestee's first court date at the bottom of the front side of the Notice to Appear, and additional information on the reverse:

Your Santa Rosa DUI attorney may tell you to keep an eye on your incoming mail, in case you did not receive any kind of citation like the examples above (but see "District Attorney Cite Letter" below), and you did not bail out of jail, so that there might not be any papers with a first court date listed. But it is also true that you may have received such a citation, yet there might be a change listed on a Notice of Correction mailed to your home. If you receive such a notice of correction, then send a copy to your Sonoma County DUI lawyer immediately.

Court Date on Bail Papers

Most people arrested for a DUI in Sonoma County are taken to the Sonoma County jail in Santa Rosa and formally booked (finger printed) and then told that they may bail out of jail if they wish to contact a bail agent or post lots of money on their own. A good Sonoma DUI attorney will tell you to look at your bail papers for a "Statement of Charges," or a bail receipt, or calendaring sheet, which should have your court date listed. Click here for examples of your first court date listed on the:

Bail Paid in Cash (or Credit Card) in Jail: If you paid a cash bail directly to the jail or the court rather than using a bail company, then click here to see an example of a Cash Bail Receipt page where the first court date is hand-written at the bottom, or a small Jail Receipt where the first court date is printed at the bottom.

Court Date in District Attorney Cite Letter

Sometimes no citation is issued at the time of an incident (often after an accident), or a defendant shows for court at the time listed and there are no charges, or for some other reason a defendant receives a Cite Letter from the Sonoma County District Attorney, listing the charges filed, a first court date to appear, and typically a request to present for booking and release one week prior to the court date if booking was not performed following the incident in question. This is the time to hire a local Santa Rosa DUI lawyer if not already accomplished.

With respect to the request to appear for booking, most Sonoma County DUI lawyers are aware of PC 853.6(g) which allows for such a booking procedure, but this statute provides that failure to comply with the request to present for booking prior to court simply results in an order from the judge to do so before the next court appearance.

Juvenile Drivers

Juvenile DUIs (under age 18) are usually treated differently than adult DUIs in Sonoma County. 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 Sonoma County DUI lawyer may accompany the juvenile and parents to this probation interview. A decision will be made whether to recommend Sonoma County juvenile court proceedings at the Los Guilicos Juvenile Court in Sonoma.

Haven't Hired a Lawyer Yet?

If you haven't yet hired a Santa Rosa DUI attorney, and cannot decide what to do before your first appearance, you may stand up in court in Santa Rosa when your case is called, and tell the judge that you need additional time to speak with a Sonoma DUI lawyer. If you cannot afford to hire a private lawyer, then you may appear at the first court date and before saying anything else, ask for a public defender to be appointed (note: Sonoma County public defenders do not contact DMV for you or handle DMV hearings). The reasons listed above for getting a local Sonoma County DUI lawyer apply whether you are paying for a private attorney or using a publicly appointed attorney. Get a lawyer!


  1. Save the Pink Temporary License

After most Sonoma County DUI arrests, the police keep your California driver license, and give you this pink sheet of paper (click on picture to right) as a replacement driver license. This temporary license is your new license, which required to be on your person while driving, and has important information of value to both you and to your Santa Rosa DUI lawyer (see the information in Tip #3 above under "Contact DMV").

Click here to see a real example of this type of notice: DMV Pink Temporary License.

You can find additional information provided by the DMV regarding issues considered at the DMV hearing, penalties and restricted licenses on page 2 (the reverse) of this pink temporary license.

The best Sonoma DUI lawyers will tell you the most important aspect of this pink temporary license is that the pink license is only valid for 30 days, and if you don't act to protect your rights within ten days of the DUI arrest date (the arrest date is usually hand-written at the top of the pink license), then in most cases your privilege to drive in California would be suspended after the 30-day pink license expires.

Knowledgeable Santa Rosa DUI lawyers will tell you that the under age 21 minors DUI procedures in Santa Rosa and Sonoma are very similar. Click here to see an example of the Under Age 21 Pink Temporary License.

Much more information about Easing the Consequences and Getting Your License Back can be found on this site. And if you didn't get this pink temporary license (search your pockets from the day of arrest, your wallet/purse and your vehicle compartments, where Santa Rosa or Sonoma DUI arresting officers may have placed it for you), then talk to a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer about what this means, and why you may or may not wish to ask the Sonoma County arresting agency to give it to you. A Sonoma DUI attorney may be able to save you enormous inconvenience.

Note that some local agencies outside Sonoma County, such some police agencies in Marin, generate their DMV documents by computer so the temporary license looks almost identical to the examples in the links above, except your copy is typed and white rather than handwritten and pink. Click here for an example of this Computer Generated "Pink" Temporary License.


  1. 6. Look for and Preserve Physical Evidence
  2. 7. Photograph the Scene
  3. 8. Fix Trigger Problems
  4. 9. Avoid Fear & Stress
  5. 10. Don't Act on Casual or Bad Advice

6. Look for and Preserve Physical Evidence

Important physical evidence, which your Sonoma County DUI lawyer might be able to use to help defend your DUI case, will be lost or disappear quickly. Save anything left in the vehicle or your pockets that in any way pertains to the incident, such as maps you used, receipts from places you visited, or partially consumed wine, beer or liquor bottles.

If no one saw you driving, find and save receipts from any bar, restaurant or liquor or retail store which may help to prove time of departure or amount of consumption. Save phone and/or text messages or phone bills that show times of calls, names, times, activities, etc. Even a call to a bar or restaurant may help preserve the name of a bartender who remembered you. If an accident or collision was part of your incident, or police allegations of faulty equipment, find and save auto repair bills or vehicle condition reports.

If a medical condition could explain certain behavior, find and save medical evaluations/reports, prescriptions, pill bottles, letters from doctors. If physical damage or injuries occurred, take photographs (see the next Tip: Photograph the Scene), so that your Santa Rosa DUI attorney can show the prosecutor or the jury instant visuals of important occurrences or conditions which might be favorable, and could meaningfully affect the outcome of a DUI case.


Photograph the SceneYour Sonoma County DUI attorney will explain to you that photographs of things such as your route, or an intersection, or a lane line you allegedly weaved over, a stop sign which you supposedly ran through or a Sonoma County neighborhood you were driving through, may make a huge difference to the success of a DUI defense. Don't snap pictures while driving, but obtaining, preserving, and presenting photographic evidence later may prove decisive in your favor.

A picture of the scene of the arrest and/or the location of sobriety testing may help your Sonoma DUI lawyer challenge an officer's credibility. A photograph of an alleged illegal trailer hitch, broken tail light or other equipment issue or malfunction (especially if you believe everything was working fine), or a picture of a temporary registration sticker or allegedly obscured or misplaced license plate may show you were perfectly legal when driving, and may convince a prosecutor to drop a case, or provide your Santa Rosa DUI lawyer with just enough evidence to rebut a police report and prove an illegal police stop.

A photograph close in time to the arrest showing any fresh damage to a vehicle, or injury to you or others (due to driving, or due to later police misconduct) may be critically important to your Santa Rosa DUI attorney weeks or months after a DUI incident when closer examination of your matter shows the need for evidence to support your side of the story.

But of course physical evidence changes with time, and disappears or may be lost before you realize its importance. If you sit and think (or better yet, talk to a local Sonoma County DUI lawyer) about how you might want to prove certain facts later, you may realize that a photograph (or better yet, ten photographs) now can preserve the appearance or state of something or someone for later, before it is lost, and just may make the difference between a DUI conviction and a far better disposition or dismissal.


  1. Fix Trigger Problems

The best Sonoma DUI lawyers will tell you that if you want to avoid aggravating the judge or making future arrests even worse, you may wish to consider fixing or addressing outstanding problems that trigger or contribute to adverse contact with the criminal justice system.

Licensing and Equipment

Sonoma DUI attorneys often advise clients that it may very well be in their best interests to get a suspended driver's license fixed, properly register any unregistered vehicle, pay off old tickets at the Sonoma County courthouse in Santa Rosa, renew expired insurance, and fix vehicle equipment violations which led to the initial stop and DUI arrest in this incident or could lead to police stops in the future.

DUI lawyers see common vehicle and equipment violations which can be addressed to reduce the chances of future police contact, including expired registration tags, malfunctioning tail lights, headlights and license plate lights, missing front license plates, tinted windows, cracked windows, trailer hitches and bike racks blocking rear license plates, balding tires causing lost traction, and after-market exhaust and sound systems.

Alcohol Abuse or Addiction; Self-Help

If your alcohol level was higher (greater than .15%), or if this is your second or third DUI, or other aggravating allegations are present such as a collision, child endangerment (children in the car), hit and run, refusal to give a chemical test, younger age of the offender, uncharged prior incidents, distant priors (outside 10 years), very recent prior DUI conviction or probation violations, etc., then an experienced Sonoma DUI lawyer will often explain that the court is likely to be concerned with public safety, and the judge may very well consider ordering a number of restrictions on your liberty at the very first court hearing and for the duration of such a case, such as ordering no-alcohol use or possession, waiver of search rights to enforce a no-alcohol order, active probation department supervision (including random drug and alcohol testing), an alcohol monitoring leg device, a breathalyzer in your vehicle, etc.

In such cases, to begin addressing issues or to head off continuing problems, a Sonoma DUI attorney may very well advise you to consider attending Alcoholics Anonymous ("AA") meetings as well as an additional layer of rehab, in order to try to soften the court's reaction to initial charges, particularly if there are no substantial defenses in this case.

Often, Sonoma County courts will reward voluntary pre-sentence self-help in DUI cases because it demonstrates personal awareness and responsibility, and a lower likelihood of re-offending. Rewards can include less, or no pre-trial orders or supervision, or at the end of a case, credits for jail time, lower fines, or relief from other common sentencing orders. One meeting per day or at least four or more per week, and perhaps additional out-patient counseling may be very impressive to a Sonoma County judge. You can find AA and NA locations in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County by clicking here: Local AA Meetings, and then select the Sonoma County link. Likewise, you can find Narcotics Anonymous ("NA") meetings by clicking here: Local NA Meetings, and then select the Sonoma County link. Discuss your individual circumstances with your Santa Rosa DUI attorney.

Sonoma DUI Lawyer Tip: There are many different kinds of AA and NA meetings in Sonoma County, so don't be discouraged if your first meeting doesn't seem to fit your personality, issues or situation. Some say that the trick to initial success in AA is to find the meetings that you can best relate to, with respect to (1) the type of meeting and the way it's run: some meetings are closed (alcoholics only) and others are open (newcomers and visitors welcome), some meetings focus exclusively on the "Big BooK" 12-step AA fundamentals, some have speakers or share stories, others are conducted as more informal, open, roundtable discussions, some are more or less religious, etc.; and (2) the type of people who attend: some meetings restrict attendance by age (seniors or youth), gender, or sexual orientation, some meetings allow children, or disallow smoking, etc.

Santa Rosa DUI lawyers often recommend that first-timers try several different meeting locations and times. Whether self-initiated or court ordered, attendance proof is important to help your Sonoma County DUI attorney at an opportune moment in court; click here to print out an Self-Help Attendance Sheet and keep a record of each meeting attended, signed by the meeting leader. If you decide to attend meetings, then you should consider sending your Santa Rosa DUI lawyer copies of these partially completed AA attendance sheets on a weekly basis to ensure that they are not lost or stolen, and so that your Santa Rosa DUI lawyer will have them at the right time (always keep the originals).

Specialty Meetings for Professionals. There are sobriety groups for many professions, which may be found online with a simple internet search, offering especially relevant peer counselling and support from colleagues who share the same pressures and situations. See, for example, International Doctors in Alcoholics AnonymousNurses in Recovery, International Lawyers in Alcoholics Anonymous (and locally, The Other Bar), and Birds of a Feather International (pilots).

Employee Assistance Programs. Many unions and larger companies offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP programs), where participation may offer the same career-specific support network, and also where early participation in a recovery program offered by an employer may tend to soften that employer's response to an employee's DUI arrest or later conviction.

An AA Alternative. Some people want, or are willing, to engage in self-help for their own well-being, and to help their Sonoma County DUI lawyer to try to mitigate possibly imminent criminal court consequences, but they may find that the AA approach to drinking and sobriety isn't a good personal fit. At least two other alternative self-help group are available in Sonoma County, Smart Recovery, which describes itself as a "self-empowering addiction recovery support group," and LifeRing, which describes itself as "a secular alternative to traditional recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step organizations." Click here to see Sebastopol's North Bay Bohemian Article About LifeRing, or here for Santa Rosa's Press Democrat Article About LifeRing. You may wish to inquire with your Sonoma DUI attorney if these alternative meetings might accomplish the same goals in a DUI court case.

Alcohol Monitoring Bracelet. Experienced local Santa Rosa DUI attorneys are well aware that Sonoma County judges are increasingly ordering an alcohol monitoring bracelet for the defendant who appears in court on a new case with one or more prior DUI convictions, even when bail has been posted already, but especially where bail has not yet been posted. An alcohol monitoring bracelet utilizes transdermal technology in an ankle-worn device that senses alcohol consumption through the presence of alcohol eliminated from the body through the skin. Good Sonoma County DUI attorneys understand that, at the very beginning of a DUI case, judges and district attorneys always assume charges and allegations are true for purposes of determining bail and pre-trial conditions of continued release (as opposed to incarceration during a case).

Pre-trial orders to have this device affixed are a common solution for judges, and district attorneys who request this device, to gain some reassurance that a defendant is not "out of control" and will not be a continuing danger to the public while a new DUI case is in the process of being challenged or resolved during the criminal court process. The official local Sonoma County provider is BI Incorporated. Defendants who live outside Sonoma may contact or be ordered to Leaders in Community Alternatives (LCA). Defendants who wish to impress a court with a serious demonstration of new understandings and new commitment to sobriety may want to discuss with a Sonoma DUI lawyer the advisability of voluntarily affixing this device before it is ordered, especially if there are multiple prior convictions, recent priors, alleged collision, high alcohol levels, or alleged refusal to give a chemical test, or if bail was not posted at the time of arrest and there is a desire to try to avoid paying additional money to stay out of custody. If you have this device affixed, be sure to tell the provider the name of your Santa Rosa DUI lawyer so that proper proof may be transmitted and used for your benefit in court.

Meetings & Alcohol Monitoring Device May be Ordered Anyway. These and other pre-trial orders may be made at the first court appearance anyway (see Example of Supervised Release Orders), but the best Sonoma DUI attorneys will tell you that demonstration of early voluntary sobriety efforts just might make a difference at the end of the day if your case resolves with a conviction, as well as during the case itself, particularly at the very beginning if the judge is concerned with bail status and any aggravating factors in your matter.

Outpatient Treatment. Arrestees with high alcohol levels and/or multiple prior DUIs must understand that the courts will assume you have an issue with alcohol in your life (probably fair considering the increasing trouble you may be facing now). You may wish to seriously consider an additional layer of treatment beyond the self-help meetings and alcohol monitoring bracelet discussed above, such as Campobello OutpatientAzure Acres Outpatient, Sonoma Recovery Services, Kaiser Outpatient, or Sonoma County's Drug Abuse Alternatives Center (DAAC, public agency), or residential rehab to avoid increased penalties, imposition of bail, or being jailed during the court proceedings if there are no obvious defenses in your DUI case. Click here to see a Sample DAAC Participation Letter for use by your Santa Rosa DUI attorney in court, and Sample DAAC Outpatient Handbook, or click here for a Sample Kaiser Scheduling Commitment. Click here for a Sample Campobello Outpatient Brochure (private agency). Day-for-day jail credits can often be obtained for controlled residential treatment accomplished prior to sentencing.

For further information in this regard, click on Resources on this site, and look at the last section of the first "Self-Help" column for a comprehensive listing of local Sonoma County and other North Bay out-patient and residential rehab services, talk to your Sonoma County DUI lawyer about such self-help efforts, and also look at relevant links under "DUI Compliance" to view other Santa Rosa and Sonoma County drug and alcohol programs. You may also click on Ease The Consequences on this site and go to Jail Alternatives for a detailed description of Sonoma County's new "DUI Court" intensive one year out-patient jail alternative.

Under 21 Sobriety and Employment or School

If you are under age 21 and you are facing an alcohol or drug-related offense, you may wish to consider attending a meaningful number of Youth-Oriented AA Meetings in Sonoma County (at least 3 per week -- click to see flyer, or click in next section below for all AA meeting schedules) to address sobriety in your life and to give your Sonoma County DUI lawyer a better chance to resolve your case without serious implications to your future. You may also consider attending Pacific Seminar's 4-Hour Substance Abuse Program at the Santa Rosa Junior College. There are no guarantees, but these types of initial and immediate efforts will make you stand out as someone making an effort, and might make a huge difference later. If you decide to try this approach, be sure to get each meeting signed off on an AA Attendance Proof Sheet (or proof of other kinds of self-help program participation) to give to your Santa Rosa DUI attorney.

If you are under age 21 and this is your first alcohol-related driving case, and if there are no viable defenses in this matter, then you may ultimately qualify for restricted driving privileges rather than the one-year suspension you are now facing. If you and your Sonoma DUI attorney can adequately show the Sacramento DMV that public transportation in your area of Sonoma County is not sufficient to accomplish your transport to and from work or school, then you may be eligible. Therefore you may wish to start considering your school and/or employment options. Click here to browse local college classes at Sonoma State University, and Santa Rosa Junior College, and Empire College.

You may also wish to consider applying for a building trades apprenticeship. Click here for a directory of available apprenticeship programs by county and occupation on the California Department of Industrial Relations website, or click here for a 2008 list of available North Bay Area Apprenticeship Programs, including contact information. Some Apprenticeship Programs are available in Santa Rosa and surrounding Napa and Sonoma counties, such as cement masons, electricians, operating engineers, plumbers & refer mechanics, and sound & communication; click here for the Building Trades Apprenticeship Website, or here for the California Tooling and Machining Apprenticeship Association. Another viable option may be Santa Rosa's Redwood Empire Beauty College, or click here for information on the Culinary Institute of America St. Helena campus.

To get this restricted license, you must be able to demonstrate that alternate and public transportation are inadequate to travel to work and/or school, and, although Sonoma County transit is actually adequate in many areas (click here for Sonoma County Transit Schedules), you may qualify for a restricted license if you live in outlying areas of Sonoma such as the Russian River, Bodega, Occidental or Sea Ranch, or even more rural areas where public transportation is remote or nonexistent and a combination of work and school requirements may necessitate your continued driving following a DUI arrest and conviction.

Click on Ten Tips To Get Your License Back for a more complete explanation of obtaining a restricted license, including a copy of the DMV application and why hiring a local Sonoma County DUI lawyer may be extremely helpful.


  1. Avoid Fear & Stress

Obviously, the best way to avoid the fear and stress of a DUI arrest, is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. However, if you are facing a DUI in Sonoma County, the best Sonoma County DUI lawyers will tell you that a first DUI is not a catastrophe for most people. Honestly, a first DUI typically carries far lighter penalties and consequences in Sonoma County than multiple DUI convictions. A smart, resourceful and compassionate Santa Rosa DUI attorney like Ryan can carefully guide a DUI offender through even the toughest cases.

The Consequences are Do-able

Even a new DUI arrest with prior convictions is more than often "do-able" in the sense of avoiding actual jail and getting your license back in a reasonable time frame. Following a first or multiple offense DUI arrest, a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer can usually help you avoid jail, and help you through the maze of bureaucratic requirements to get your license back, as well as help arrange fines and and other costs to be paid in very low monthly installments.

You are Not Alone

Know that you are not alone! According to one study, by age 23, almost one-third of Americans have been arrested for a crime other than a minor traffic violation. Another study says one in three adults have arrest or conviction records. Understand that even if you emerge from a Sonoma County DUI incident with an actual DUI conviction, most likely you will be able to expunge a Sonoma DUI conviction in two to three years, thereafter allowing you to legally omit any reference to it on most applications for private employment (see our Sonoma DUI Lawyer Expungement Discussion on this website).

Perspective is Important

Once you have relaxed a bit, you can click on Ten Tips to Ease the Consequences of a DUI on this site for more details on how to get through this ordeal with the least amount of pain and inconvenience. You will continue to see why hiring a local Sonoma DUI lawyer like Ryan can be a tremendous help. This is precisely what local Sonoma County DUI attorneys do best.

In addition, a local Santa Rosa DUI attorney can appear for you in Sonoma County Superior Court or Santa Rosa traffic court and the Santa Rosa DMV so that you don't have to go, waste time, and be embarrassed, confused or stressed. This is true for everyone, including out-of-town tourists and visitors to Sonoma County for whom it would be even more inconvenient to handle yourself. Make no mistake, DUIs can be serious offenses for many people, but the best Sonoma DUI lawyers will get you out of it, or through it, with the least pain and aggravation.


  1. Don't Act on Casual or Bad Advice.

A good Sonoma County DUI lawyer will tell you: never, ever blindly follow legal advice offered by Sonoma County law enforcement, or an employee at the Santa Rosa DMV, or at the drinking driver DUI program classes, or even friends and family. With respect to government employees, although sometimes well-intentioned public servants, still, police and other government workers are paid (and often rewarded with bonuses, promotions, medals and social media recognition) to arrest you, convict you, punish you, and move on to the next case.

Sonoma County police and DMV employees do not know you, nor do they have the motivation, skill or experience to help you identify subtle legal issues in a very complicated area of the law, or to give you practical and/or legal advice in your unique circumstances in order to make this situation easier for you. It is actually illegal for anyone to give you legal advice without a license to practice law, precisely because of the many rules and laws which can adversely or beneficially impact your individual DUI situation.

A Sonoma County police officer recently boasted to one of Ryan's clients that he has "never lost a DUI case." This is a rare admission by a local veteran Santa Rosa police officer that he is absolutely not a neutral party in your case. It would be reasonable to conclude that cops may tend to have a sense of investment and pride in the outcome of their DUI arrests, their yearly totals, and visions of ceremonies, awards, promotions, pay raises and prestige. It is also important to understand and remember that your arresting and attending officers will testify against you. So then, why would you ask for, or listen to, or follow advice from someone whose motivations are completely opposite to your best interests? The only person whose sole and exclusive responsibility is to help you is your Sonoma County DUI attorney.

Click on Know Your Rights on this site for more discussion about civil rights abuses of all kinds, and about Sonoma County police, and thinking before you speak or act when confronted with the police. Given these realities, DUI lawyers are always puzzled by anyone who seeks or follows casual legal advice from any official paid to bring you down, and undisputedly lacks the necessary legal training and experience to identify and process all of the legal complexities in your unique case. Moreover, simple human nature dictates that their advice will more often be motivated by their own convenience, pride, and advancement, rather than the best interests of someone like you who they don't know and whom they are accusing of a crime.

Government Employees; Some Examples

Police & DMV. Often Sonoma County law enforcement officers will subtly lead you into conversation and admissions, or convince you to consent to investigatory interviews or searches, any of which may lead to criminal charges which would not have been possible if you had questioned or considered resisting such vague police statements as "I'm going to have to ask you to...," or "Here's what we're going to do...," or "I want you to...." Specifically in the context of Sonoma County DUI cases, you may find yourself manipulated into performing field sobriety tests (you are never required to perform any of those tests), or giving a breath test and declining the more accurate, re-testable, blood test, or a cop may subtly convince you not to exercise your right to get a blood test after you take the breath test in a DUI case. A blood test requires extra police time and effort; you follow his/her advice, the officer saves time, and your Santa Rosa DUI attorney loses an opportunity to win your case.

Another common example of bad advice is a Sonoma County police officer or Santa Rosa DMV counter clerk stating that you don't "need to" or "have to" get a DMV hearing and you should just "wait" until you receive a notice from DMV. A recent client related that when she called to ask for a hearing, the DMV employee stated "here's what you do: get an SR-22 and you'll get your license back!" Another client emailed Ryan that when she tried to get her DMV hearing set up within the first 10 days after arrest, "They told me that I would have to set up an appointment but I should wait until I go to court to figure out what to do with my license, so come back in 30 days to see if I can get a restricted license." Refer to Tip #3 Contact DMV for more examples of misleading statements from DMV employees.

A good Sonoma County DUI lawyer will explain to you that not only is this "advice" wholly and completely over-simplified, but in addition, if you don't successfully ask for a hearing and challenge the DMV administrative suspension, you will lose any possibility to take control of the process and you will lose the opportunity to delay, or protect yourself from, a driver license suspension. There is an entire process for protecting your right to drive against illegal police actions, or ill-informed government employees, and if you casually follow such advice, you will lose valuable rights that could have saved your driving privileges.

DUI Program Staff. Yet another common example is a Santa Rosa DUI program employee stating that you can't enroll in their mandated program until after a Sonoma County DUI court conviction or until after your separate Santa Rosa DMV case is resolved, or that you should enroll in their short program rather than the standard program required by the DMV to reissue your license. This is not correct; poorly conceived and inaccurate DUI program advice like this often causes someone without a good Sonoma County DUI lawyer to be suspended longer than required by law. Understand that cops and bureaucrats who are fond of quoting rules seldom see or care for the larger legal picture, or promoting your rights like a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer does on your behalf.

A Sonoma County DUI program "counselor" was overheard by one of Ryan's clients, saying, "DUI lawyers are a waste of money." Some police and bail companies are known to give unsolicited opinions like this as well. Obviously this client disagreed, calling Ryan after the DUI class to report the improper personal opinion voiced by county staff in a court-ordered DUI program. Just like with everything else in life, some people need help and some people don't want it, or can't afford it, but there are lots of important reasons to hire a lawyer when faced with a real DUI criminal case in Sonoma County superior court, and a driver license suspension at DMV. See Ryan's discussion of why to hire a Sonoma County DUI lawyer at Tip #2 Hire a Santa Rosa DUI Lawyer, and click to see many pages of sincere, grateful Testimonial Reviews on this site where DUI clients arrested in Sonoma County offer up a different experience than this counselor's general ignorance of lawyers would suggest. With the benefit of hindsight after hiring a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, and after Sonoma County DUI cases were resolved by Ryan, former clients have generously stated they strongly disagree that hiring a DUI attorney was a waste, or anything but an enormous relief and lifesaver, well worth a reasonable fee. The client who called Ryan to relay the counselor's comment in class promised she was going to stand up in her last class and voice her confidence and gratitude for Ryan's advocacy on her behalf, and for his guidance navigating the intimidating, complicated, "drive you crazy" world of cops, bureaucrats, courts, and DMV.

That same DUI program was reported to have advised, "When you finish our 3-month DUI program, you can apply for your license back." This information is so bare and lacking in proper context, timing and procedures that it is fundamentally wrong in its simplicity, and someone who does not hire a Sonoma County DUI attorney, and just follows advice like this, is likely to suffer a driving suspension far longer than necessary. Click to see Ryan's comprehensive discussion on this site regarding Getting Your License Back.

Friends and Family

Unfortunately friends and family who obviously do care for you, still don't have the training or experience, and may be motivated by their own frustrating history without even being aware of it. You are well-advised to do your own research and come to your own conclusions before acting (or failing to act) to protect your sanity and your future. A caller recently stated to Ryan that "half my friends say I should just walk in and get it over with, and half say hire a lawyer, so I don't know what to do." Ryan's answer: a DUI lawyer can walk in for you, determine if there is anything to be done to lessen the consequences, and resolve a DUI case in the best possible way, with all of the critical explanations, directions, tips and tricks, so you don't have to try to do it yourself, risking mistakes, a poor result, and years of regret; if you can afford a reasonable fee, then why wouldn't you hire a good Santa Rosa DUI lawyer? Make decisions based on common sense, not the pessimism or disappointment of others.


If you want no-nonsense, accurate, thought-provoking advice on what to do after a DUI arrest, ask an experienced, local Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Take advantage of free Sonoma County DUI lawyer consultations; it's one of the few times you truly have nothing to lose and everything to gain.