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Top Ten Tips > Easing the Consequences of a DUI

SRPD Motorcycle Cop8. 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 AA Sobriety ChipAA Sobriety Chip (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).

Speciality 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 Anonymous, Nurses 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.

CAM FemaleAlcohol 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).

CAM MalePre-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 Outpatient, Azure 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.

ApprenticeIf 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 nonexistant 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.

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Any result portrayed was dependent on the facts of that case, and the results will differ if based on different facts.

Our DUI Lawyers

Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, Sonoma County resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of Sonoma County DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.

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Dave Jake Schwartz