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Top Ten Questions > From Minors/Parents

8. What If I'm Under 18 Years Old?

Although DMV usually makes no distinction in age regarding license suspension procedures, juvenile DUIs are usually treated differently than adult DUIs in Sonoma County courts. The juvenile probation department in Santa Rosa is typically first to become involved, and will usually contact a juvenile and his/her parents with a letter several weeks after the arrest, requesting an interview about family life, school, and substance abuse. Click here to see an example of such a Probation Letter. A DUI lawyer may accompany the juvenile and parents to this probation interview. Click here to see a listing of Sample Juvenile Probation Interview Questions.

A decision will be made whether to recommend Sonoma County juvenile court proceedings at the Los Guilucos Juvenile Court in Santa Rosa. Click here for an in-depth look at the Larger Sonoma County Juvenile Justice Practice in the context of a 2011 hit and run fatality.


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According to the Probation Department, its Intake unit reviews and evaluates reports referred to them by law enforcement agencies. The Intake Officer may choose from, or recommend to the Juvenile District Attorney, several options including 1) dismiss the matter before or at the citation hearing, 2) admonish the minor and then dismiss the charges, 3) release the minor with credit for any time served in Juvenile Hall, 4) hold the matter in abeyance and refer the minor to a diversion program, 5) place the minor on informal probation, 6) place the minor in an Early Intervention Program or 7) refer the matter to the District Attorney's office for filing of criminal charges.

If the DUI minor is referred for diversion, a number of options and community based organizations are available to assist in ensuring that the minor complies with the specific case requirements, including mental health or substance abuse counseling, payment of restitution, and completion of community service hours. A description of several diversion programs utilized by the Sonoma County Probation Department and an explanation of informal probation and the early intervention program can be viewed by accessing the department's Diversion Services web page.

If the case proceeds to a juvenile DUI finding, then click here to see a typical Juvenile Court Delinquency Finding and click here to see a typical Sonoma County Juvenile DUI Sentencing Order, which includes 6 months formal probation (including reporting to an assigned probation officer, random search & seizure terms, and random drug/alcohol testing), 40 hours community service, one-year license suspension, DUI youth classes, CHP Start Smart program, and approximately a $400 fine.

Although juvenile criminal records in Santa Rosa may be sealed at age 18, DMV records will continue to show juvenile DUI suspensions (typically one year) for at least 10 years following a Sonoma County incident. The following link is an example of a 22 year old man's DMV driving record showing one juvenile alcohol suspension with .03% alcohol (age 16), one minor DUI with .08/.07% alcohol (age 20), two suspended license cases, and one adult DUI with .11/.12% alcohol (age 22): Juvenile DMV Record. Any juvenile and parents facing an under-18 DUI or alcohol-related driving incident should speak to a local Sonoma County DUI lawyer about, among other things, which procedures will apply in a particular case, how DMV and the courts will affect the juvenile's life going forward, and how and why to seal juvenile records following resolution of a Sonoma County DUI incident. Consult with a Santa Rosa DUI attorney about your specific case.

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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