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Sonoma, California DUI Process

Santa Rosa DUI Process Attorney

Drunk Driving Attorney Explains Arrest and Legal Process in Sonoma County

Sonoma County has numerous wineries and several casinos. Many locals and visitors come in for a day of wine-tasting or an evening of gaming. What started as a day or evening of entertainment suddenly turned serious when the police pulled you over while driving back home or to your hotel. You answered many questions and performed various tests, all the while waiting nervously to see what was going to happen. Then you were handcuffed and arrested. It's an awful experience.

The DUI Arrest

When you are stopped by the police while driving back from a restaurant, bar, winery, or casino, the police officer already had a suspicion that you had been drinking. One of the first things you were likely asked was, "What have you had to drink tonight?" From there it went downhill, no matter what you said.

Next, the officer asked you to step out of your car and hit you with a battery of questions about where you had been and where you were going, what you ate and drank, when you last slept, and what medication you take. You were asked to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs), and probably on the side of a cold and dark road. It is a scary and intimidating process.

You were then asked to submit to breath or blood testing as part of the Implied Consent law and told you had no choice but to do one or the other. No right to talk to a lawyer and little or no time to think about it. They took your driver's license if you're a California resident, and either way gave you an Order of Suspension.

After the DUI Arrest

You were most likely arrested and booked in the county jail and suffered the indignity of being in a drunk tank before posting bond or being released on your own recognizance. Now you are facing two separate and simultaneous legal proceedings:

  • A criminal case before the Sonoma County Superior Court. Typically, motorists arrested for drunk driving face two criminal charges: driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or above.
  • An administrative "per se" suspension of your driver's license through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The length of your suspension depends on the circumstances of the case.

It's time to retain a lawyer who is Board-Certified in DUI defense by the American Bar Association.

The Sonoma County Court Proceeding

After your DUI arrest, the first court appearance is typically your arraignment. This is held at the Sonoma County Hall of Justice at 600 Administration Drive in Santa Rosa and usually takes place within a few weeks of the arrest. At the arraignment, you (or your attorney) are informed of the charges and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. In most circumstances, the initial plea will be "not guilty."

Before your arraignment date, it is strongly advised that you obtain legal counsel. An experienced Sonoma County DUI lawyer can thoroughly review the facts and evidence of the case and develop the most effective defense strategy. Your lawyer can usually represent you at your arraignment, so you do not have to take time off from work or school or travel back in from out-of-state.

The DMV Administrative Proceeding

Immediately after your drunk driving arrest, the California DMV moved to suspend your driving privileges. At the time of the arrest, the officer takes away your driver's license and hands you a notice stating that your suspension will begin after 30 days. The DMV suspension is slated to occur automatically, independent of what happens in court, unless you request a hearing to challenge it.

You have just 10 days from the time of your arrest to request a DMV administrative hearing to challenge the suspension. If you fail to act within the 10-day window, there is no further opportunity to prevent the suspension from taking effect. Your attorney can do this for you, so consult with one now.

Speak with a Knowledgeable Santa Rosa DUI Process Attorney

Being arrested for DUI in Sonoma County creates fear and uncertainty. The court and DMV administrative process is confusing to folks unfamiliar with it. Over the past three decades, attorney Paul Burglin has successfully defended thousands of clients charged for DUI in Sonoma County. He co-authors California Drunk Driving Law, a two-volume legal guide commonly referred to as the "Bible of DUI Defense," and he is one of just five attorneys in all of California who is Board-Certified by the National College of DUI Defense as approved by the American Bar Association.

For a discreet and confidential consultation with attorney Paul Burglin, contact us 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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