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Top Ten Tips > Easing the Consequences of a DUI

SRPD Motorcycle Cop8. Fix Trigger Problems

The best Napa 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

Napa 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 Napa County courthouse in Napa, 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 Napa 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 Napa 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, Napa 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 Napa County judge. You can find AA and NA locations in Napa County by clicking here: Local AA Meetings, and then select the Napa County link. Likewise, you can find Narcotics Anonymous ("NA") meetings by clicking here: Local NA Meetings, and then select the Napa County link. Discuss your individual circumstances with your Napa DUI attorney.

Napa DUI Lawyer Tip: There are many different kinds of AA and NA meetings in Napa 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.

Napa 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 Napa 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 Napa 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 Napa 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 Napa 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 Napa 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 a North Bay Bohemian Article About LifeRing, or here for a Press Democrat Article About LifeRing. You may wish to inquire with your Napa DUI attorney if these alternative meetings might accomplish the same goals in a DUI court case.

Outpatient Treatment. Arrestees with high alcohol levels and/or multiple prior DUI's 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 such as Kaiser Outpatient or residential rehab to avoid increased penalties or being jailed during the court proceedings if there are no obvious defenses in your DUI case. Click here to see a Sample Kaiser Scheduling Commitment. You may be able to find other service providers by contacting the Napa County Department of Alcohol and Drug Services. Day-for-day jail credits can often be obtained for controlled residential treatment accomplished prior to sentencing, with such agencies as McAlister Institute, located in Napa.

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 Napa County and other North Bay out-patient and residential rehab services, talk to your Napa County DUI lawyer about such self-help efforts, and also look at relevant links under "DUI Compliance" to view other Napa County drug and alcohol programs.

Under 21 employment or school.

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 Napa DUI attorney can adequately show the Sacramento DMV that public transportation in your area of Napa 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 Napa Valley College, Sonoma State University, 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 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.

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 Napa 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, 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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