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Sonoma County, California DUI Laws

Santa Rosa California DUI Laws

Legal Consequences for a Drunk Driving Conviction at the Santa Rosa Courthouse

The State of California gives counties the authority to impose harsh penalties for DUI convictions. In Sonoma County, even first-time drunk driving offenders can face heavy fines, an automatic driver's license suspension, jail time that may be converted to the sheriff's work program, and other consequences. Repeat offenders receive more enhanced penalties, which may include heavier fines and extended time in prison. If you are charged for drunk driving, it is important to work with an attorney who understands California DUI laws, how these laws are applied in Sonoma County, and the best defense strategies to minimize the negative consequences.

Drunk Driving Laws in California

Most of the statutes pertaining to DUI in California are found in CA Vehicle Code Section 23152. Motorists arrested for drunk driving are usually charged with two offenses:

  • 23152(a): Driving under the influence of alcohol; and
  • 23152(b): Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

Section 23152 deals with other circumstances involving DUI arrests as well. For example, Section 23512(d) makes it illegal to drive a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 or higher. Section 23152(e) makes it illegal for a person under the influence of a drug to drive a vehicle, and Section 23152(f) makes it illegal for a person under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs to drive a vehicle.

"Zero Tolerance" for Underage DUIs

Motorists in Sonoma County who are under the age of 21 are subject to California's "zero tolerance" policy. This means that underage drivers with any traceable amount of alcohol in their system can be penalized. Under CA Vehicle Code Section 23136, an underage driver with a BAC of just .01 can have their driver's license suspended for one year, along with other fines and assessments. Section 23140 imposes a one-year driver's license suspension, mandatory alcohol education, and other fines and penalty assessments for underage drivers with a BAC of .05 or above.

California "Implied Consent" Laws

Under CA Vehicle Code Section 23612, when you apply for a driver's license in California, you give your consent to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content level if you are ever arrested for DUI. This is known as "implied consent." Refusal to take the mandatory chemical test can result in a minimum one-year driver's license suspension for a first offense. Multiple offenses result in longer driver's license suspensions and the possibility of jail time. However, the threat of jail can make your submission to a blood draw unconstitutional, as you retain the Fourth Amendment right to withdraw the statutorily imposed "implied consent" when it comes to blood draws.

DUI with Injury in California

Section 23153 of the CA Vehicle Code addresses DUI offenses involving bodily injury. This can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the totality of circumstances and how the judge and prosecutor exercise their discretion. As a misdemeanor, offenders can receive up to one year in Sonoma County jail and a $5,000 fine. As a felony, offenders can receive up to six years in state prison (and even longer if there are multiple victims) and up to $10,000 in fines plus assessments.

Speak with a Sonoma County California DUI Law Attorney

California has strict drunk driving laws, but motorists also have certain rights that are not always adhered to by law enforcement officers in Sonoma County. For example, officers must have probable cause and follow proper procedures during a DUI arrest. Attorney Paul Burglin thoroughly understands these laws and what it takes to mitigate the negative consequences of a drunk driving charge.

Attorney Burglin co-authors California Drunk Driving Law, a two-volume legal guide with hundreds of authoritative case interpretations and decision-based legal defenses. Paul is one of only five California attorneys who are Board-Certified by the National College of DUI Defense (as approved by the American Bar Association), and he is frequently sought out by judges, prosecutors, and DMV hearing officers when someone close to them is in legal trouble for DUI.

For a confidential and discreet consultation with attorney Paul Burglin, contact our office today at 707-320-4007. We serve clients in Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and communities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

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