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Sonoma County DUI Charges and Penalties

Santa Rosa DUI Charges and Penalties Attorney

What are the Consequences for a Drunk Driving Arrest in Santa Rosa, CA?

Sonoma County imposes heavy fines and penalties for motorists convicted of DUI. Even a first-time drunk driving conviction with a clean record can mean big fines, an automatic suspension of your driving privileges, and up to six months in county jail. Multiple DUI offenses and/or aggravated circumstances such as DUI with bodily injury or death can result in enhanced penalties.

These penalties are subject to negotiation, and under certain circumstances, it is possible to have the charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge, such as a "wet reckless." For this reason, it is important to work with an experienced DUI attorney who thoroughly understands the Sonoma County DUI process and the most effective legal defenses to mitigate the situation as much as possible.

Penalties for Sonoma County Drunk Driving Arrests

A DUI charge in Sonoma County initiates an automatic suspension of your driver's license through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). At the time of the arrest, the officer confiscates your California driver's license and gives you a notice stating that your license will go into suspension 30 days from the date you were arrested. If you are from out-of-state, your license is not taken away, but you are given a notice stating that your California driving privileges will be suspended after 30 days. The California DMV also notifies the DMV in your home state, which may result in a suspension of your home state driver's license.

The length of your driver's license suspension is dependent on the totality of circumstances in your case. First-time offenders without aggravated circumstances can have their driver's license suspended for up to 10 months with the possibility of obtaining a restricted driver's license after serving 30 days of the suspension. However, if you are found to have improperly refused the chemical test after your arrest, the suspension period is at least one year with no restricted license eligibility.

A second drunk driving conviction (within 10 years) can result in a one to two-year driver's license suspension with restricted license eligibility after 90 days in some circumstances. A third DUI within 10 years can result in a three-year driver's license revocation with restricted license eligibility after six months in some circumstances, and four offenses within 10 years can trigger a four-year license revocation with restricted license eligibility after 12 months in some circumstances.

There is a very limited window of time to challenge an administrative per se (APS) driver's license suspension. You have just 10 days from the date you are served with the suspension order to request an administrative hearing with the California DMV. Both residents of California and out-of-state residents are strongly advised to request a hearing to contest their suspension.

Criminal Penalties for DUI Convictions in Sonoma

Most motorists arrested for drunk driving in California are charged with two criminal offenses:

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

In Sonoma County, police are known for arresting drivers even if they are below the .08 BAC threshold. This often occurs at DUI checkpoints set up near one of the wineries or casinos.

A first-time offender in Sonoma County can generally expect to pay around $2300 in fines and penalty assessments and receive two days of jail time, which could be converted to two days on the sheriff's work program. Other penalties may include three months of DUI school, three years of probation, attendance at AA meetings, community service, and sometimes the requirement to install an ignition interlock device. Second and multiple offenders and DUI convictions with aggravated circumstances can result in enhanced penalties, such as heavier fines and extended jail time.

Speak with a Board-Certified Santa Rosa DUI Lawyer

Being charged with drunk driving does not mean you will automatically be convicted. With strong negotiation and the right defense strategy, it is possible to minimize the negative consequences. For over 30 years, attorney Paul Burglin has successfully defended individuals arrested for DUI in Sonoma County and throughout the Bay Area. Attorney Burglin co-authors California Drunk Driving Law, a two-volume treatise commonly known as the "Bible of DUI Defense", and he is one of only five lawyers in the state who are Board-Certified by the National College of DUI Defense as approved by the American Bar Association.

For a personalized consultation with attorney Paul Burglin, contact our office today at 707-320-4007. We serve clients arrested in Santa Rosa, as well as the towns, cities, and unincorporated areas of Sonoma County.

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