Top Ten Tips > Easing the Consequences of a DUI

2. Driver license

Timing is Critical.

Be sure you are eligible for your license to be returned on the first possible day. Once someone is suspended, it is typically best to sign up immediately for DUI program classes ("DUI Program", or "DDP"). In Napa County, DUI program enrollment timing is critical to getting your driving privileges back. Be sure you are eligible for your license to be returned on the first possible day. Typically, the best way to do this is sign up immediately for the drinking driver DUI program classes once a license suspension begins. In Napa County, the DUI program is located at 2020 Jefferson Street in the City of Napa (see Google map below).

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Click here for the Napa DUI Program, or here for the Sonoma DUI Program or here for the Marin DUI Program, or here for Mendocino information. More programs and links may be found on the DUI Compliance page in the Resources section of this website.

Who is Eligible for the Restricted "Work" License.

If you had a valid California license prior to this incident, and you are age 21 or older, and you have never been arrested for a DUI or suspended by DMV before, and there is no allegation that you refused to give a breath or blood sample at the time of this Napa County arrest (or other aggravating factors), then typically you may obtain a California restricted "work" license in a misdemeanor Napa County DUI case after the first 30 days of the DMV suspension when: (1) Napa DUI Program has confirmed with DMV in Sacramento that you are already enrolled in DUI classes at the Napa DUI program (they transmit a Form DL 107 to DMV electronically after you enroll), and (2) your insurance company (or you) files an SR22 Insurance Form with the Napa DMV (see "Insurance" Tip above).

Client comment: "After I was arrested for a DUI, the police officer told me that if I go to AA meetings prior to my first court date, then when I go to court, I can show them that I'm going to AA and they're more likely to give me a restricted license."

Jake's answer to this client: Great example of cops giving wrong legal advice; your case is a first DUI with no test refusal or other aggravating factors, so you have a right to a restricted license by following the proper DMV procedures; it has nothing to do with AA meetings or the court!

Napa, Sonoma, and Marin Counties each have only one DDP. Mendocino and Solano have two. Usually DDP's have a waiting list to enroll, so if you wait too long, then your required suspension period will be unnecessarily longer than the mandatory 30 days. Related, Napa County courts typically require that you sign up within 21 days of a DUI conviction or else usually you must go back to court be re-referred by the judge. If you fail to convert your suspended license to a restricted "work" license, and as a result you are arrested for driving on a suspended license due to a DUI, the penalty risks are severe and expensive, including a 10-day jail sentence and loss of work license or hardship privileges. Talk to your Napa DUI lawyer about the best time to enroll and then don't delay.

You can find additional detailed discussion about getting your license back by clicking on Ten Tips For Getting Your Driver License Back.

temporary restricted license What is the Restricted "Work" License.

A DMV suspension of driving privileges due to a DUI may result from a court conviction or from the DMV's separate administrative proceedings (typically from both). To see detailed descriptions of these suspensions, click on Ten Tips For Getting Your Driver License Back on this site. Typically, suspension periods last from four months to three years or more depending on the circumstances. In most cases the suspension time can be shortened after a mandatory period off the road by obtaining limited driving privileges (called a "restricted license") which lasts for the balance of the longest of any pending suspension periods. For a first offense DUI, this special license is usually "restricted" to the hours necessary for driving to and from the person's place of employment, driving during the course of employment, and driving to and from the DUI program classes.

Getting the Restricted License.

Understand that the Napa DMV does not automatically send the restricted license to you and your Sonoma attorney cannot get it for you; rather, in a typical case you must accomplish the tasks described above and then go to the Napa DMV satellite office and pay a fee to obtain the restricted license.

The license issued to you at Napa DMV will be a new 8-1/2 x 11 or 8-1/2 x 5 temporary license (see example pictured above). Usually your new regular plastic picture license (which will look like the one you had before except the restrictions are printed on the reverse) will be mailed to you from Sacramento following satisfaction of the above tasks and payment of the fee at a local DMV field office. The Napa DMV is located at 2550 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Napa; the Santa Rosa DMV is located at 2570 Corby Avenue; and the Petaluma DMV is located at 715 South Point Blvd.

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You can find early contact information on this site for Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Marin and Mendocino, and other counties by clicking on Resources and then under "DUI compliance" click on one of the drinking driver DUI Program links; all the state-licensed drinking driver programs are listed.

Be Sure DMV Has Your Correct Mailing Address.

If DMV has an old mailing address (for example, outside of Napa County) then you might not receive critical notices containing time-sensitive materials, or giving you a date for the start of a suspension, or sending you a new temporary or permanent license, which are usually sent to you at your address on record at DMV. Note that copies of many (but not all) hearing-related notices are sent to your Napa attorney, so you can get copies from him/her.

Because the Vehicle Code requires you to provide a change of address to DMV within 10 days of obtaining a new address, you are not permitted to complain if DMV sends important documents to an old address on its records. In order to allow your Napa County DUI lawyer to react quickly and challenge notices of wrong or unfair decisions or planned actions against you, you must ensure that DMV has your correct address unless there is a compelling reason not give official notice. If you wish, you may visit the Napa, Santa Rosa or Petaluma satellite DMV field office to submit a change of address, or click here to Update Your Address Online.

The Under Age 21 Critical Need Restricted Driver License.

If you are under age 21 and lost your license due to a first DUI arrest or zero tolerance case in Napa County, then you may wish to consider asking your attorney about applying for a critical need license to drive if you believe you can adequately show the DMV that public transportation in your area is not sufficient to accomplish your transport to and from work or school or you are the primary driver for transporting a family member to medical appointments.

Using A Lawyer May Save Unnecessary Delay. It is often extremely helpful to ask a local Napa County lawyer to provide and review this application so that eligible minors may minimize the possibility of denial of application. A Napa DUI lawyer will be sure that the entire application is completed, including all required signatures from parents, school officials, employers and/or doctors. We review applications to ensure there is adequate supporting information which we know the DMV Sacramento office looks for, such as Napa County bus schedules, supplemental explanations, and additional documentation of any kind which may support the application.

Improve Your Chances of Being Approved. This is the type of advice good Napa DUI lawyers should provide: make no mistake; the DMV only grants under-21 restricted licenses for truly critical needs. So for example, getting a job in the town of Santa Rosa, and/or enrolling in a class or two at Napa Valley College, or a trade school in Solano County, would typically increase chances of getting a limited license to accomplish such transportation. Click here to browse local college classes at Napa Valley College, Sonoma State University, and Santa Rosa Junior College, and Empire College.

ApprenticeYou 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 Napa County transit is actually adequate in many areas (click here for Napa County Transit Schedules), you may qualify for a restricted license if you live in outlying areas of Napa such as Angwin, Pope Valley, Oakville or American Canyon, 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. If so, then print out nearby routes and schedules to attach to your application so that the DMV can readily see the lack of alternatives in your given situation.

Application Form. You can fill out the critical need application online (see link below), print it to complete with supporting materials, and send to a Napa County DUI lawyer for comments, reprint if necessary, and obtain signatures and mail to Sacramento with your additional documentation. The form usually takes several weeks for you to prepare and complete, plus review time for your attorney, and at least a week or two for the DMV to consider, so it is important to start this process as soon after you determine the one-year DMV suspension is likely.

Note that all minors who might otherwise be eligible for this restricted license must serve the initial 30 days of any pending suspension; this is the perfect time to complete and mail the DMV application. Click here for the under age 21 form: DMV Application For Critical Need License. Click here for more information and tips on this site for a successful application process: Ten Tips for Getting Your License Back and then click on "Minors."


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, Wine Country resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of North Bay 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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