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Cost of a DUI in Sonoma County


Although most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, they may leave a very dark stain upon your otherwise clean record. 

First, there are direct monetary outlays upfront in any DUI arrest, never mind a conviction. 

Then, there are many more hidden costs, that crop up later.  Second, there are invisible costs for any DUI conviction as in loss of license and possible loss of a job, promotion or future income. 

DUI costs Sonoma County

A DUI conviction could also adversely affect or interrupt your military service or career. Your teaching credential or real estate license could also be placed in jeopardy. 

Anyone going through a divorce or a child custody battle may find that the judge limits, curtails or even suspends your child visitation rights.  This could happen whether you are charged with a DUI or convicted of the same. 

  1. The Most Obvious DUI Related Out of Pocket Costs
  • Attorney Fees—These range considerable depending on the experience of the attorney, the county and the severity of the charges. 
  • Bail—Where applicable, bail can normally range between $10,000 to $50,000.00 depending upon whether there was an accident, somebody was injured or killed and if the defendant is a repeat offender.
  • Car Impoundment Fees—Where applicable these could range anywhere from $250.00 per day up to $500.00 per day and there could be a hold for up to thirty days. It could add up to thousands of dollars. 
  • Court Fines and Fees–These range considerably from county to county and in Sonoma County the fees are currently at $2,498.00 and they are expected to rise. 
  • DMV Mandated Program Fees—These range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending upon the length of the class that the defendant is required to take.
  • The cost of Installing and Maintaining a Newly Mandated State Law, the Ignition Interlock Device (IID)—All first-time DUI offenders are given the choice to install this device or not drive at all.  In addition, they must show proof the ignition interlock device had been installed. This alone can run into the thousands of dollars over a one, two or three-year period depending on the time frame imposed by the judge.  Further, the embarrassment of having to blow into a machine in front of any of your clients or new girlfriend or an acquaintance is very embarrassing to say the last.
  1. Indirect, “Hidden Costs” After a DUI Conviction
  • A Large Increase in Insurance Premiums—You may even be dropped by your carrier, but nonetheless the carrier will substantially increase your premiums thousands of dollars a year. When multiplied by several years or up to three or even five years, this could amount to over $5,000.  However, our firm works with an independent insurance broker to avoid these increases—thus saving you money.
  • Court Imposed Restitution If Applicable—This added burden/ cost varies depending upon whether there was an accident or if the DUI caused the damage or destruction of public property like a light pole, guardrails or private fencing, mailboxes, etc.  The court will impose these restitution fees and they can amount to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the situation. 
  • Invisible DUI Costs
  • Your Reputation and Standing in the Community Could be damaged—It is difficult to put a price tag on a damaged or harmed reputation.  If you are passed up for a promotion, an award or an honor how much is that worth monetarily?  
  • Your Professional License Could be Adversely Affected or Even Suspended—This occurrence could seriously reduce your present and future earning power and eventually your future income. 
  • Child Custody or other Court Proceedings could be adversely affected by a DUI conviction— Any litigation or civil court matters for which you are currently engaged could be jeopardized.  That includes child custody, and divorce. The price tag could be very high.

So, if you are ever charged with a DUI or alcohol related crime or if you think you may be convicted of a DUI you need to immediately hire a very skilled and knowledgeable attorney.

Your attorney will be able to maneuver through this costly maze to keep you from being bled to death by all the direct, indirect and hidden costs that could lead to a financial disaster or even lead to bankruptcy. Hiring the “right attorney” right from the onset makes all the difference. 

Please contact us any time at our conveniently located Santa Rosa Office located at 182 Farmers Lane, Suite 100A, Santa Rosa, CA. Our main phone number is: 707 571-8600. Call us and we will have you speak with one of our attorneys immediately. “THE RIGHT ATTORNEY MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE.”Serving you since 1992.

For more info on DUI related matters in Sonoma County and how we can help, CLICK HERE

Change To DUI Law- 2019

If you are convicted of a DUI in the 2019 new year and beyond, a change in the DUI laws may be of interest to you.

Prior to 2019, a person convicted of a DUI could expect a license suspension that involved a suspension with no driving whatsoever for a period of time depending on whether the conviction was for a first, second, third, or fourth DUI.


The new law now changes that suspension period. A person convicted of a DUI will have their license suspended for a period of time depending on how many DUIs they have within 10 years, but now, everyone will be able to obtain a restricted license beginning the first day of your suspension, whereas in the past there was a period of no driving at all followed by a period of restricted driving.

The restricted drivers license allows you to drive to and from work, during the course of work, and to and from any drinking driving program required by the court of the DMV.


The catch, you will now be required to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive or own. You will be able to drive a vehicle during your employment that is owned by your employer without an interlock device, but your will have to notify your employer of your restricted license and you will have to carry a notice of the restriction in the company vehicle or on your person.

For more info on DUI Defense and how we can help you, CLICK HERE

Reasonable Cause in a Sonoma County DUI Stop

If you have been stopped for a DUI in Sonoma County, you should know that there are several different legal obstacles officers must overcome before they are able to question you regarding intoxication.

Before an officer can ever ask you to pull over, they must have a valid reason for doing so. This reason is generally a lawful traffic stop. This can be running a red light, speeding, weaving, illegal U-turn, etc.

But the bottom line is that an officer cannot ask you to pull over based on a whim, a hunch or their instinct alone. You must have violated a specific traffic law to be stopped in the first place.

blood or breath test

There are two exceptions to this general rule; a welfare check, and a DUI checkpoint.

A valid reason is not required when you are already pulled over at the side of the road. Officers are required to stop and see if you are ok, and if you need help. This is called a welfare check. Officers also do not need a reason to stop you at a DUI checkpoint also referred to Sobriety Checkpoints.  

You are required to stop. However, if you do not want to drive through the checkpoint, you can turn around the other way. This cannot be held against you.

The reason officers cannot stop you for an arbitrary reason is because of your constitutional rights, embodied within our Fourth Amendment rights.

Assuming an officer has a lawful reason to stop you in the first place, he or she then needs reasonable cause to ask you to submit to a breathalyzer. Reasonable cause can be obtained in a few different ways.


Sometimes, law enforcement will question whether you have been drinking. If you say that you have been drinking, this will give an officer reasonable cause to question further. Officers may also obtain reasonable cause through observation.

Examples are: if your breath smells like alcohol, your eyes are bloodshot, if you appear intoxicated, or are slurring. These observations must be clearly documented and stated in the officer’s report regarding the arrest. If it is not, it leaves room open for argument by a DUI lawyer.

Much like the reasons an officer cannot arbitrarily stop you while you are driving, officers cannot arbitrarily ask you to submit to alcohol testing. Your fourth Amendment Constitutional right protects you from unlawful search and seizure.

An officer who arbitrarily stops you and seeks information from you violates this right and your case could be dismissed at the motion stage.


These legal inquiries provide your criminal defense attorneys sufficient argument for a good defense to win your case.  Knowledgeable, skilled and experienced attorneys like you will find working at Fiumara and Milligan Law have handled thousands of DUI cases and know the best possible argument for each one of your circumstances.

When A DUI Results in A DeathWhen A DUI Results in A Death

Our very skilled attorneys handle each client on a case by case basis. We take the time to review the specific facts of your case and take into careful consideration your history to tailor an argument and strong defense that ensures your case the best possible outcome.

Do not hesitate, contact our office today at 707-571-8600! The Consultation is Free & Confidential.

“The Right Attorney Makes a Difference.”

For more info on DUI Defense, CLICK HERE

Types of DUI Tests in Sonoma County

Breath and blood tests–law enforcement officials use a variety of tests to determine if they should charge a driver with DUI in California. But only one County in the State of California, Santa Clara County has a pilot project of sending first time offenders (upon the discretion of the arresting cop)  to “sober stations” where a nurse or counselor makes every effort to get you signed up for an alcohol treatment program. 

This saves you your license and jail time, but Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Solano counties are not doing this, so you need to read on unless you are were arrested in San Jose or Santa Clara County.

Measuring your breath

Although the word breathalyzer is actually a trade name for a specific type of breath testing device, people now use it generically to describe all types of alcohol breath tests. There are differences in the way each of these tests work, however.

No matter what the test, it’s important to remember that breathalyzers don’t really measure your blood alcohol content, but instead provide an estimate of your BAC based on the amount of alcohol that’s in your exhaled breath sample.

No matter what type of breathalyzers police use, there are several factors that can affect their reliability:

  • Mouthwashes, breath freshers breath sprays and similar kinds of products can raise the BAC reading, since they contain alcohol.
  • All these devices need to be calibrated regularly by qualified personnel. Lack of calibration can invalidate test results.
  • The presence of fumes from paint, varnish (spilled nail polish) and other chemicals in the area or clost vicinity where the test is administered can skew the results.
  • The temperature of your breath can impact BAC readings with breathalyzers.
  • Diabetics and people with hypoglycemia may have more acetone in their breath, while people on low-carb diets (competitive bodybuilders and other athletes) may produce more ketone. Both substances can lead to false positive readings on a breathalyzer test.
  • You will be required to take a deep breath before blowing into a breathalyzer to test the air from the lungs. A shallow breath may invalidate the results. But that may be the result of a medical condition.


Law enforcement officials are supposed to follow certain procedures when administering a breathalyzer:

  • The police officer must have taken the required training in administering the breathalyzer test using that specific breathalyzer model.
  • The officer must observe the person for 15 minutes before administering the test. During that time, the officer must ensure that the person does not eat, drink, vomit or regurgitate.
  • Properly trained technicians are required to calibrate the breathalyzer every 10 days or 150 uses, whichever comes first. If the breathalyzer is dropped it should be reported and noted.

Failure to follow these procedures can invalidate the breathalyzer test results.

Blood tests

Blood tests measure the amount of alcohol (in the form of ethanol) in your body. They’re generally regarded as the most accurate type of tests for measuring BAC. But their results are not always the most accurate because there are several factors that can influence the blood test results.


  • When drawing a blood sample, a technician will generally swab the area from which he/she is going to draw blood with alcohol to ensure that it is clean. But alcohol from that swab can contaminate the sample and result in a higher BAC reading.
  • Faulty seals on blood sample storage containers can also result in contamination of the samples and lead to inaccurate readings.
  • Blood samples that sit too long or are stored at the wrong temperature before processing can provide inaccurate BAC readings. The combination of yeast, sugar and bacteria that are normally found in your blood can result in the formation of more alcohol when samples aren’t stored under the right conditions.
  • As with breathalyzers, some substances like cough syrup and herbal medicines can get into your blood stream, boosting your blood alcohol content so that the reading isn’t accurate.
  • Alcohol content in the blood continues to rise for 30 to 60 minutes after you’ve stopped drinking. It usually takes at least that long for technicians to administer a blood alcohol test. That means you could have been driving with a BAC of less than 0.08 –under the legal limit—but the BAC rose beyond that limit by the time they took your blood sample. We will be happy to discuss the “rising blood alcohol” defense to help vindicate or reduce your charges under certain circumstances.

In California, failure to comply with a police request to submit to a breath test or a blood test can result in you losing your license for a year (for a first offense) and for two years for a second offense or with a previous DUI conviction.


Contact Fiumara and Milligan Law today at 707-571-8600 or 415-492-4507 if you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a DUI and need our help now!

Since 1992 we have successfully handled thousands of DUI cases throughout NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.

CLICK HERE for more DUI related information and how we can help you.

The Long-Term Effects of A DUI in Sonoma County?

When individuals are faced with a DUI, they often are so concerned about being arrested, put in jail, having their license suspended, hiring an attorney, heavy fines, penalties and DUI school that they fail to comprehend the long-term ramifications of their actions.

Here are just some of the problems a DUI conviction can create for you:

-If you are a truck driver, a chauffeur, a delivery person or have a company car, you might lose your job. The reason for this is that the liability of having someone drive their employer’s trucks, vans, limos or cars, after having a DUI conviction, is too great.

-If you are seeking employment, your permanent criminal record showing a DUI conviction can cause employers to pass you over. The hiring process will normally involve credit checks and criminal background checks, and this could prove to be fatal in your attempts to gain meaningful employment.

-A DUI conviction can cause you a problem of gaining admission to college or university. It also can serve to disqualify or hinder you if your job requires state licensing or certifications, such as for attorneys, doctors, real estate agents and teachers. Your college financial aid may even be jeopardized.

-Your automobile insurance will likely skyrocket. Your driver’s license will be suspended, (or even revoked) and you will need to obtain a California SR22. This is proof of having met the state’s minimum requirement for automobile liability insurance. This can be very expensive and because of a DUI conviction you will typically wind up in a high-risk insurance pool. But we have a way to help keep your insurance rates from rocketing out of control. During your FREE Consultation we will explain.

-Following a DUI conviction, spouses, family, friends, co-workers and employers may lose some respect for your ability to make good decisions. This can result in embarrassment, humiliation, depression and anxiety. Additionally, some will simply assume that you have a problem with alcohol.

First time DUI offenders are normally charged with a misdemeanor DUI. However, the facts and circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest can increase penalties and jail time depending upon your Blood Alcohol level, if there was any “bad driving,” whether you are a repeat offender and worse if there was an accident injury where someone was seriously injured! In any of these scenarios you may be facing a felony DUI.

A felony DUI charge can also result from multiple DUI convictions, DUI with injury and a vehicular manslaughter charge. Felony DUI charges all carry considerable time in the California State Prison.

If you or a family member have been arrested for a DUI, you cannot afford to get a conviction. You need to immediately seek the advice of an experienced and highly skilled DUI defense attorney who is experienced in handling DUI cases especially in the counties where you have been arrested and charged.

Fiumara & Milligan Law has been around since 1992 and are experienced DUI attorneys who have represented thousands of California residents (and citizens of other states who have been arrested for DUI in California) who have been in your situation.

Our attorneys will work hard for a dismissal, a not guilty verdict or reduced charges. Very often we find that there was an unlawful stop, malfunctioning breathalyzers and inaccurate blood alcohol content (BAC) tests.

Let us be by your side. We will be with you every step of the way.

Contact Fiumara & Milligan Law IMMEDIATELY at 707-571-8600 or 415-492-4507 for a no obligation consultation.  “The Right Attorney Makes all the Difference!”

CLICK HERE to see more info on DUI and how we can help you.

What Evidence Does the Prosecutor Have in a Sonoma County DUI Case?

One of the most important variables in a Sonoma County DUI case is that of the evidence that can be presented against you. When your case goes to Court, you will present your case, and the prosecutors will present theirs. Each side of the case will hinge upon evidence and the stronger the evidence, the stronger your case will be.

One of the biggest pieces of evidence is that of the officer’s report. Often called discovery, the officer’s report establishes a crucial part of your case, the reason for the stop or detention and ultimately the arrest. When you are pulled over, there are mandated procedures and legal standards that law enforcement officers must follow.

Sonoma County DUI case

If they fail to follow these procedures, the case could be dismissed, or the prosecutor could be more inclined to reduce the charges.  Because of this, law enforcement officers attempt to carefully monitor their conduct and strive to accurately record all the pertinent facts in their report. This police report will then be carefully scrutinized and analyzed by the Sonoma County DUI Lawyer you retain to represent you.

For example, an officer must have reasonable cause to stop you in the first place. If they do not have reasonable cause, it is not a valid stop. There are several ways officers can meet this procedural requirement. One way is if you violate a traffic law. This could be speeding, running a red light, failing to stop at a stop sign, or even not having your headlights on at night.

Is A "Wet Reckless" Plea Bargain By The District Attorney Really A Good Deal?

Another way is if you are pulled over at the side of the road with car trouble or perhaps after an accident. This qualifies as a welfare check. Officers have the right to stop and check to see if you are alright and if you need any assistance.

Officers must articulate and document the reasons why they stopped you in the first place in their report. If they did not have a valid reason, any evidence gathered thereafter is not admissible in court, and your case could be dismissed.

Officers must also have reasonable cause to ask you to submit to an alcohol screening test. They cannot arbitrarily ask you to submit to one. This is a very subjective area. The reasonable cause could be based on the observations of the officer alone.

Many times, this requirement is met by the officer simply stating in his report that he smelled alcohol, or that the driver appeared to have symptoms that indicated he or she was under the influence—slurring speech, watery eyes, staggering gait, et al.

Fortunately, many police vehicles are now equipped with recording devices and there is audio and/or video recording in evidence. More importantly, many officers themselves are required to turn on their body worn cameras (BWC) pursuant to an arrest so this evidence can now be compared to the police report narrative.

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All evidence that the prosecutor acquires for their case in chief is available to you to review prior to entering a plea.  It is up to your Sonoma County DUI Lawyer to obtain all the discovery, police reports, supplemental reports and every bit of audio and video evidence before either settling your case or setting it for a trial.  

Having the benefit of an experienced and knowledgeable professional reviewing your discovery, ensures that you can prepare the strongest case possible, and prepare for the weaknesses in your case. All these steps will ensure that you give your case the strongest possible fighting chance.


Contact Fiumara and Milligan Law today at 707-571-8600 for a free case evaluation. Since 1992 ‘We have been a powerful advocate for Good people who sometimes make bad choices…

Please CLICK HERE to read more about DUI and how we can help with your case.

How to Get Your Driving Privileges Back After a Sonoma County DUI

California driving under the influence (DUI) penalties are harsh. Complex state statutes control DUI driving penalties, with a range of possible sentences.

A DUI can result in thousands of dollars in fines, jail time, mandatory alcohol treatment programs, and loss of driver’s license. The maximum fine for a first time DUI conviction in California depends on which county in which you are convicted (approximately $2,500 in Sonoma County).

Sonoma County DUI

The maximum jail time is six-months with a license suspension ranging from as low as 30 days to a two-year revocation period depending upon your age, Blood Alcohol Concentration [BAC] and whether you are deemed a multiple offender! In addition, you will be subject to vehicle impoundment for 30 days, and a mandatory and expensive interlock breathalyzer device installed in your vehicle.

If you’re about to lose your driver’s license or driving privileges after a DUI in Sonoma County, here’s what you need to know.

Understanding DUI License Suspension Penalties in California

Speak to a qualified and experienced DUI attorney to avoid or minimize penalties, such as the following:

  • An officer confiscated your driver’s license upon arrest. At the end of your suspension or revocation period, you must pay a $125 reissue fee ($100 if you were under the age of 21) to get your license back from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)—These fees are subject to change. Also, before your license is reinstated for you, you must file proof of financial responsibility—and your insurance premiums can double or worse!
  • You were 21 years old or older, took a BAC test, and the results showed 0.08% or higher. If you failed a chemical BAC test, your first offense for DUI could be a four-month conditional suspension with at least a 30-day hard suspension. Subsequent offenses within 10 years could result in a one-year suspension.
  • You were under the legal drinking age of 21, took a BAC test, and it showed 0.01% or more. California’s Zero Tolerance Law enforces a penalty of a one-year driving privilege suspension for underage DUI drivers. But there may be a hardship exception that you should discuss with your attorney.
  • You refused to take a chemical BAC test at the time of the traffic stop. Refusal to comply with a BAC test in California automatically results in a one-year license suspension for first-time offenders, two-year revocation for second offenses, and three-year revocation for a third or subsequent offense within 10 years. What qualifies as a “refusal” is subject to interpretation under the law.

There are two occasions when officials may take away your driver’s license and driving privileges: upon arrest and upon conviction. At the time of your DUI arrest, police may take Administrative Per Se action against your driving privileges only. This is a DMV suspension or revocation that is independent of penalties from the court.

When A DUI Results in A Death

Following a court conviction, the courts can order a mandatory action to impose additional fines, jail time, or license suspension/revocation. A highly skilled Santa Rosa DUI lawyer can help you understand the specific penalties for your individual case and walk you through the process of getting your driving privileges back as soon as possible.

Restricted Driver’s License After a DUI

The courts may give you an order of suspension or revocation with a temporary license. You may use this temporary license to drive for 30 days if you have an active California driver’s license. You have 30 days to drive with this license until the period of your suspension or revocation goes into effect.

At this point, you may apply for a restricted driver’s license. It is possible to redeem limited driving privileges after a DUI-related license suspension or revocation to drive to and from work, school, court-ordered programs, and religious meetings.

Once your 30-day waiting period ends, you may file for a restricted license with your county DMV. If this is your first DUI offense, you must show proof of enrollment in a California DUI program, pay a $125 fee, (subject to change) and show proof of financial responsibility. If the DMV approves you for a restricted license, you may only drive to and from your place of employment, court-ordered programs, school, or church. If you refused to take a BAC chemical test, you do not qualify for a restricted license.

When A DUI Results in A Death

Getting Santa Rosa, San Rafael or any other Urban Center Without a Vehicle

If you lose your license due to a DUI, how will you navigate our county’s country roads and disjointed public transportation system without massive inconvenience and expense? License suspension can hamper your work or even force you to quit a job or gig.

Here are alternatives for getting around on a suspended or revoked driver’s license:

  • City and County buses. Take the bus for services throughout Sonoma County. Learn the maps and timetables of the city of Santa Rosa bus system, purchase a member pass, and take the bus almost anywhere.
  • Taxis. Calling Yellow Cab, United Taxi, or Independent Taxi Cab Co. can get you where you need to go. However, a cab as your regular source of transportation can get expensive.
  • Rideshare services. You need a smartphone to use rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, but they can be a more affordable alternative to traditional taxis.

How to Get Your License Back as Soon as Possible After A Sonoma County DUI

Stay on top of your suspension or revocation. The DMV does not automatically reinstate your driver’s license at the end of your suspension or revocation period. You must wait the full term of your DMV and/or court sentence—that is why a skilled and experienced attorney can make all the difference!


Once your suspension period has passed, you’ve served your full jail or prison sentence, competed a DUI program, and fulfilled all other sentencing conditions, you may apply for license reinstatement.

You need to insure your car before you apply for reinstatement, using a special type of insurance. You need to bring proof of this insurance – a form SR-22 from your car insurance company. You also must pay a reinstatement fee. This will be $125 or $200, depending on your age. At this point, you should be able to complete the application for reinstatement and successfully redeem your driving privileges.

If law enforcement impounded your vehicle due to a prior DUI record or another circumstance, you need to get your car back as soon as possible. The state charges a fee for every day your vehicle is impounded, and it is not uncommon for daily impound fees to exceed $400.

Do not wait until the end of your license suspension to retrieve your car from impound.  As soon as you can, visit the place that is holding your vehicle. Bring your proof of title, registration, insurance, temporary driver’s license, and money to pay the impound fee (typically cash). The facility will only release your vehicle to the registered owner.

Speak to a qualified and experienced Santa Rosa DUI attorney at Fiumara and Milligan Law, PC to keep the impound period as short as possible and get you back on the road as soon as possible.

At Fiumara & Milligan Law, we know that good people make bad choices, but that is no reason to keep an individual from earning a decent living and providing for his or her family. We are all in this together so are attorneys and professional staff treat our clients like we would “family.”

When A DUI Results in A DeathWhen A DUI Results in A Death

Contact the Sonoma County DUI lawyers at Fiumara and Milligan Law for IMMEDIATE help at 707-571-8600.

The Right DUI Defense Attorney Makes All the Difference” We have been around since 1992 and have successfully handled thousands of DUI cases—so this is not our first rodeo!

Please CLICK HERE to read more about DUI in Sonoma County and how we can help you! 

DUI costs in Sonoma County

The Costs You May Incur In A DUI Case In Sonoma County

Paying the fines and court costs for a DUI conviction in Sonoma County could leave you struggling to make ends meet.

And that doesn’t include the other expenses that you could face along the way for legal fees, spikes in your insurance premiums, lost work time, the installation and rigorous maintenance cost of an interlock ignition device, and more.

Let’s look at a potential first time DUI when there is no accident or personal injury involved—as the basis for estimating your expenses.

blood or breath test

These figures are only approximations. The true costs will depend on many factors, and vary from County to County, but these factors are determinants:

  • Whether this is your first DUI, or whether you’re a repeat offender;
  • Whether you violated other laws in the process (e.g. driving under age, hit and run, DUI with injury, evading the police or running a stop sign);
  • The quality of your legal defense;
  • Whether your insurance company approaches your situation punitively and hikes your premium rates significantly or allows you some leeway;

Fines and court costs ($2,480.00)

For a first-time DUI offender in Sonoma County, the minimum penalty a court can impose is a fine of $390, as well as additional add-ons, assessments, levies, court costs, restitution fees and the like.  You will be looking at costs that can easily exceed $2,500 especially if you must pay towing and storage fees for your car.  

This figure also does not include attorney fees.  Some attorneys charge more than $5,000 for a first time DUI.  The maximum penalties and costs for a first time California DUI are substantial.


DUI Driving School ($600)

When the court finds you guilty of your first DUI offense in California, you’ll be required to attend a DUI driving school whose expense can vary depending upon how high the blood alcohol concentration was at the time of the driving. 

The length and price of the driving school also depends upon several other factors one being if this was your first, second or third offense.  Judges may require repeat offenders to attend up to 90 hours of DUI school.

The state licenses AB 541 first offender programs, and it issues guidelines for their curriculum, but each program can approach DUI issues with some latitude. For instance, they can charge whatever tuition they feel is appropriate.

The average cost of such programs is about $600 or more; they generally range from $300 to $1,800. These numbers are subject to change and variation, but you are always welcomed to come in for a free no obligation consultation

Ignition interlock device ($310–$1,500)

As of January 1, 2019, California law will require all first time DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicles for six months. The cost of installing an IID varies from $310 to $1,500,  and has gotten very expensive, while the devices can run anywhere from $60 to $80 a month for regular maintenance.


Legal expenses can vary greatly—Some lawyers charge from $3,500 to over $10,000 for a first or second DUI

Hiring a lawyer to defend you in a DUI case is usually a good idea, especially if you’re going to contest the charges. But there’s no easy way to put a figure on what legal representation is going to cost you. Legal fees will vary tremendously based on factors such as:

  • Whether it is your first offense;
  • Whether your DUI case requires the calling of expert witnesses;
  • Whether your case is exceptionally complex (e.g. Did your DUI result in someone’s death or serious bodily injury);
  • Your attorney’s qualifications and experience.

Getting your license back ($125)

Law enforcement will confiscate your driver’s license at the time of your DUI arrest. To get it back—after the expiration of any suspension or revocation period—you’ll have to pay the California DMV $125.

Before you can drive after a DUI conviction, you’ll also need to have your insurance company file an SR-22 form with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

An SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility—a document that tells the DMV that you have at least the minimum automobile insurance required to drive a car in California. An SR-22 also alerts the insurance carrier that you were convicted of a DUI and you most likely see a substantial jump in your insurance premiums.

The insurer will charge you a fee for filing the SR-22; the average cost is around $25. But we employ an outside private agency that can do it for you for free and they will also find a suitable insurance carrier with much lower premiums—thus saving you a lot of money!


Impoundment charges (two days) ($665)

Police officers have the discretion to order your car impounded subsequent to your DUI arrest. They may allow a non-inebriated passenger in your vehicle to drive it back to your home or they may allow you to call another licensed driver if they can get to the site within 10 or 15 minutes.

In some cases if you have been very polite and cooperative, the officer may drive your car to the side of the road or onto a parking lot for pick-up at a later time.

But if your car is impounded by the police who call a private tow company you will pay the towing fees for them to transport it to an impoundment lot, a daily storage charge, a City of Santa Rosa release fee (adding insult to injury) taxes and even interest!

For this example, let’s assume you have been arrested for DUI on a Saturday evening, and you can’t rescue your car until Monday.

  • Towing charges ($239 for the first hour plus $120 for $359 each fraction of an hour)
  • Mileage rate ($7 per mile times 15) $105
  • Storage charge standard vehicle: $39 per day times two $78
  • City of Santa Rosa release fee $115

But as a rule, impoundment fees can add anywhere from $250.00 to $350.00 a day to your overall bill for a DUI.

Increased insurance costs ($843)

According to the Value Penguin website, the average cost of auto insurance in California is $1,962 per year. (Of course, this number varies greatly depending on your age, the type of car you drive, your previous driving record, where you reside, how many miles you drive, etc.)

Value Penguin also estimates that the multiplier used to determine the amount of a rate increase in California after a DUI is 1.43. That would make your new annual premium about $2,805—an increase of about $843. 

But we have seen insurance rates climb by over $1,000 a year for three years which would add another $3,000 over the course of the insurance bump up.  You are viewed by the insurance industry as a higher liability risk. 


Time missed from work ($320)

It’s hard to gauge how much time you’d have to miss from work due to your DUI arrest and conviction. But let’s take a conservative approach and suppose that it’s two days—16 hours to deal with everything from the aftermath of your arrest and court hearing to picking up your car at the impound lot and heading to the DMV to get your license back.

That’s 16 hours, assuming you work a regular eight-hour day. We’ll also assume you make about $20 an hour (an annual wage of $41,600.) That’s $320 in lost wages. Again, this is an extremely conservative number.

The figure is probably a lot higher when you think about how much time you may have lost when you couldn’t bail out of jail right away, thus losing additional time from work. 

Also, you need to search for an attorney and take time off to hire and retain one. The stress of a DUI looming over you can cause an increase in sick days and lost time from the job.  Finally, attending your first Offender DUI classroom sessions may cause you to lose additional time from the office. 

Some DUI defendants are even fired from their jobs when it is learned that they are even facing a DUI conviction since the employer may view this as a greater liability risk. 

Bail expense

Even a first time DUI defendant can pay a $10,000 bail or $1,000 out of pocket in fees.  This can be even more substantial if there is a high blood alcohol concentration, an accident or the defendant is a multiple DUI offender. The bail could easily be $30,000 or higher.


Cost of alternative transportation ($165-$300)

When you’re arrested for a DUI, you’ll lose your license for at least 30 days. How will you get to work during that time? If you take mass transit (bus or train), it will cost you. Uber may be a little bit less expense than a taxi ride.

But you’ll also need to go grocery shopping, doctor appointments and run other errands during that time. Let’s say you take an Uber twice a week to handle those trips, and that a five-mile trip to your preferred shopping area takes 10 minutes.

The basic Uber service will cost you 15¢ per minute ($1.50) plus 9¢ per mile ($.45) plus a $2.10 service fee. The grand total for a one-way trip would be $4.05, and a round trip cost $8.10.

Multiply $8.10 x 2 (twice a week) x 4 weeks for your license suspension, and your Uber costs would run about $65. (And that doesn’t even count money spent to get to doctor, dental and other appointments, for visiting family and friends, etc.

The grand total

If you add up all these expenses and then some—and they are just the bare minimum—you’re likely to be out of pocket at least $10,000 just for a first DUI. Add in any other complicating factors—time in jail (and lost wages); property damage or injury you’ll have to pay for, etc.–and your total bill could climb much higher.

That also doesn’t consider the intangible costs of a DUI, including the threat to your job and the embarrassment of having to face family and friends.

So, the next time you think you’re okay to drive—but really aren’t sure—compare the cost of a cab or an Uber to everything you could lose if you are picked up for a DUI. It makes alternative transportation seem like a real bargain.


Contact Fiumara & Milligan Law today at 707-571-8600 if you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a DUI in Sonoma County.

We will fight to get your charges REDUCED OR DISMISSED altogether! WE will fight to get you back on the road again driving as soon as possible— “The Right Attorney Makes all the Difference.”

Please CLICK HERE to read more about DUI in Sonoma County and how Fiumara and Milligan Law can help! 

Blood or Breath Test during a DUI Stop in Sonoma County?

During a DUI stop in Sonoma County, a police officer will likely ask you to take a portable breath test. The best thing to do is to refuse this test, but if you are placed under arrest, you are required to submit to chemical tests under California’s “implied consent” law.

So, you’re placed under arrest and you must take a blood or breath test. Which one should you take?

blood or breath test

What is More Accurate: Blood Tests or Breath Tests?

Whether you should request a blood or breath test depends upon many factors. If you strongly feel that you are under the legal blood-alcohol content limit of .08%, you will want to choose a blood test because it is more accurate, and it can be RETESTED later by your attorney.

Breath tests have a greater margin for error. They can be skewed or affected by mouthwash, cough syrup, or other products that contain alcohol. Even certain non-alcoholic products like energy drinks can create falsely higher BAC test results.

If you think that you may be below the legal BAC level but aren’t quite sure, you may want to choose a breath test. Your attorney can and should challenge the accuracy of Breathalyzer test results because of their tendency to be inaccurate, poorly calibrated or maintained from reviewing past records and logs.

In any case, it is best to be aware of how alcohol that you consumed. For an average male, each drink you consume raises your BAC about .02 to .03 percent per hour.

For women on average, it will rise at a slightly higher rate. After drinking, but before driving, it would be wise to use a phone app to calculate your BAC or a hand-held breathalyzer.


Have You Been Drinking?

Breathalyzers test for the presence of alcohol in your system, and only for alcohol. If you’ve taken any kind of drugs, a breath test will not detect this. However, a blood test will show results for drugs, including prescription medications.

Even if you think you did not take enough drugs to impair your driving ability, a blood test could detect these drugs and the results could be used as evidence against you that you were “impaired.” 

If you have taken any kind of drugs, it may be best to avoid a blood test and have officers administer a Breathalyzer test instead.

Time is of the Essence

When it comes to calculating BAC, timing is everything. The absorption of alcohol continues to rise for up to two hours after your last drink before your BAC starts to fall.

If you’re driving while your BAC is in the declining stage, a blood test might work to your advantage depending on the time of your last drink and your location.  

For example, it may take a while for the officer to transport you to a facility where your blood can be drawn. That delay could be enough to allow your BAC level to fall below the legal limit.

Meanwhile, a breath test can often be administered on the spot. If your BAC level is rising even though you felt unimpaired, this could still produce higher Breathalyzer test results.

Call the DUI Defense Attorneys at Fiumara and Milligan Law

If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, you need to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney at Fiumara and Milligan Law. Our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing DUI charges for over 25 years. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now.

Call us today at 707-571-8600 for a FREE case evaluation and we will do everything we can to help get your charges REDUCED OR DISMISSED! Why deal with this alone! 

For more info relating to DUI in Sonoma County and how we can help you, CLICK HERE


While every defendant has a constitutional right to a jury of his or her peers, criminal charges rarely go to trial in Sonoma County or in California County for that matter. Most criminal cases are resolved by a plea bargain or plea arrangement. 

A plea bargain is when the defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to criminal charges. The process may begin when the prosecutor agrees to dismiss some of the charges in exchange for a plea to the remaining charges.  


Or the defense counsel may insist upon the prosecutor or the District Attorney to reduce the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor. In other cases, defense counsel will persuade the prosecutor to reduce a Penal Code 422, a criminal threat, to a simple disturbing the peace or a Penal Code 415.

Sometimes, the plea will include an offer of a low-end sentence or probation in exchange for the plea. These are called conditional pleas. An open or unconditional plea is one where the defendant pleads guilty with no promises made to him or her for the plea.

But in many cases, defense counsel knows how the judge will sentence a defendant based upon the judge’s custom and practice and the defendant’s lack of criminal history and the like. Or counsel can simply ask for an indicated sentence.


The judge has very little to do with the conditional plea process and, in fact, in California, the judge is not allowed to engage in any plea bargaining. However, at the time the plea is entered by the defendant in court, the judge can reject the plea agreement, but the judge cannot change the terms of the agreement.

Open pleas can be made to the court and the judge can, in that instance, indicate the sentence he or she will levy against the defendant. If that sentence is not imposed, the defendant can withdraw the plea.

Following the acceptance by the judge of the defendant’s plea of guilty or no contest, whether after a plea bargain with the prosecutor or an open plea, the court will enter judgment, that is, the judge will enter the conviction pursuant to the plea.

Most plea bargains are conditional pleas. These pleas are treated as a contract between the defendant and the prosecution and governed by general contract principles. Because it is a form of contract, neither party can easily back out unless the plea agreement violated certain principles under contract law or is violative of the State or Federal Constitutions.  


Examples of this may include that the agreement was vague or ambiguous, was not fulfilled as promised, was fraudulently made or was entered (by the defendant) under coercion. The Penal Code at section 1018 permits a defendant to withdraw his/ her plea within a certain time frame and for good cause– good cause generally relates to contract principles of law.

Many criminal justice reform advocates believe that the high rate of plea bargains suggests a fundamental unfairness in the system. It appears common that prosecutors charge a defendant with every possible crime for the offense and make each charge as severe as possible with the idea that the built-in plea bargain process will result in “justice.”

But if a poor defendant does not have the resources to hire an aggressive, experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney this “plea down” process disfavors them, and they end up serving much longer jail sentences.


On the other hand, advocates of the plea bargain process maintain that it conserves resources and taxpayer money. If every defendant went to trial, counties would quickly run out of money. Court trials are expensive.

Already, the taxpayers foot the bill for court operations, judges’ and bailiff salaries, the prosecutors’ salaries, and the public defenders’ salaries—just part of the vast public resources that are expended for the judiciary and the administration of justice.

Plea bargains often result in a favorable outcome for the defendant. The alternative is to take each case to the jury and depending on the crime and the sympathies of the jury, this can be a risky choice. Sonoma County jurors are known for their inclination towards law and order.

Sonoma County jurors are neither liberal or conservative—it depends on the particular jury pool and the luck of the draw, but one thing is certain, older and more conservative people usually sit on Sonoma County juries because they have more time than younger folks who have young children or jobs that they need to attend.


A good defense attorney who can spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and who is a skilled negotiator often makes a significant difference in plea bargaining with the prosecutor.

For example, the criminal charges may indicate a prison sentence, but a defense attorney who can drive a “hard bargain” can often get probation for his or her client instead.


Fiumara and Milligan Law has been driving hard bargains with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office since 1992 and continues to fight for each of our clients. We will work hard to get the best outcome in your case—don’t settle for anything less.

Call us today at 707-571-8600 for a FREE CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION.

For more info relating to jail alternatives in Sonoma County, CLICK HERE

To view some of our recent case results where we were able to help our clients get a significantly reduced sentence or even dismissal, CLICK HERE

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Case Results

  • DUI- Hung Jury
  • Felony Assault - JURY ACQUITTAL
  • Domestic Violence - JURY ACQUITTAL
  • Felonies - REDUCED to 1 MISD.
  • Felonies - REDUCED to 1 MISD. NO JAIL
  • Sex Felonies - REDUCED/NO JAIL
  • Prostitution - DIVERSION/NO JAIL
  • 2nd Theft - DISMISSED
  • Drug Felonies - NO JAIL
  • Resisting Arrest - DISMISSED
  • Juvenile Sex Felonies - DIVERSION
  • Multi-ED CODE Charges - REMAIN IN SCHOOL
  • 1st Degree Burglary - REDUCED

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