Empire Office: (707) 939-0111

North Bay Office: (925) 372-3733

In Sonoma County, the punishments for driving under the influence come hard and swift. The DMV will immediately suspend your license. You have small windows of time to enroll in programs that allow you to keep driving to work or school, to avoid time in custody, and to avoid having a warrant out for your arrest. DUIs are a far too common occurrence in Sonoma County. Officers are stepping up their game to catch more under-the-influence drivers. While a DUI arrest is an extremely serious mark on your record, it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t necessarily mean you will spend time in jail.

The Sonoma County DUI Program

One of the first things that will happen when you’re convicted of a DUI is that you’ll be ordered to attend the Sonoma County DUI Program. In almost all cases this is an absolute requirement and can’t be avoided. The program has strict times for enrollment and attendance, which must be observed in order to complete it. There are four different courses in the program, depending on the severity of your DUI incident and whether you’re a first time offender or a multiple offender. The programs range from 6 weeks long to 18 months long, and require certain fees. For more information on everything involving the Sonoma County DUI Program, go to http://sonoma-county.org/health/services/driving.asp.

Alternatives to jail time

There are two alternatives to spending time in custody when you’re charged with a DUI. Both alternatives are programs that involve you serving your time in different forms other than behind bars. The first is called the Work Release program, offered by the Sonoma County Probation Department. Work release is a way to spend the time you owe to the county doing physical labor instead of in custody. Most people have heard of work release before, or at least have seen individuals doing work release tasks in movies or on television. Work release consists of things like the stereotypical picking up trash on roadsides and other projects that serve the community in some way.

Work release is not guaranteed in all cases. There are several eligibility requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for work release. If you were sentenced outside of Sonoma County, there is no possible way for you to qualify for the Sonoma County work release program. You can’t transfer work release between counties, so if you end up being sentenced in another county, work release will only be possible in that county. Some of the other factors that can influence your eligibility include: the full extent of what you were sentenced for, past arrests, previous failures to complete work release sentences, and more.

The second alternative to time spent in jail is the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department Electronic Monitoring Program. This program allows you to continue going to your job, your school, and to treatment like Alcoholics Anonymous or the Sonoma County DUI Program. The Electronic Monitoring Program restricts your movement to certain places at certain times of the day via an ankle monitor. The monitor may also keep track of your alcohol consumption. This program is offered to those without active warrants, other pending cases, gang affiliations, or recent histories of violence. Other eligibility requirements apply as well.

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