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9. Minors With DUI Suspensions

The Critical Need Restricted Drivers License.

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

The legal authority for the DMV to order a critical need license is contained in Vehicle Code Section 13353.8, and for the court to order a critical need license, in Vehicle Code Section 13202.5. Because courts rarely make a specific order of suspension at sentencing, and because the analysis for a successful critical need application is the same for both the DMV and the courts in most cases, only the DMV application is discussed here.

It is often extremely helpful to ask a local Napa County DUI lawyer to provide and review this application so that eligible minors may minimize the possibility of a rejected application. A Napa DUI lawyer will be able to ensure that the entire application is completed, including all required signatures from parents, school officials, employers and/or doctors.

Napa DUI attorneys review applications to be sure that there is adequate supporting information which we know the Sacramento DMV office looks for, such as bus schedules, supplemental explanations, and additional documentation of any kind which may support the application.

Improve the Chances of Being Approved

ApprenticeMake no mistake: the best Napa County DUI lawyers will tell you that the DMV only grants under-21 restricted licenses for truly critical need, rather than simple inconvenience or disruption. So it may be necessary to establish the grounds for this special license by getting a job and/or enrolling in school in order to increase the chances of readily qualifying for one of the specified categories permitting the limited license. The number and severity of Napa County transportation hardships involving conflicts between school and employment increase the chances of being approved, particularly when coupled with inadequate or completely impractical family/public transportation alternatives.

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 Napa and surrounding 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.

The Application Form

Critical Need Application for Under-21 Minor Napa DUIThe critical need application form can be filled out online, then printed, then completed with supporting materials, and sent to a Napa lawyer for comments, reprinted if necessary, and finally, obtain signatures and mail to the proper Sacramento DMV office.

The form usually takes at least two weeks to prepare and complete, plus attorney review time, and at least a week or two for the Sacramento DMV to consider, so it is usually best to start this process as soon after determining the one-year DMV suspension is likely. Even if the application is approved, one must still suffer the mandatory first 30 days suspension, so around the start date of the 30-day suspension is often the best time to start and complete the application process. Click here for the under age-21 form: DS694 Application for Critical Need License.

More Tips for a Successful Application

Understand the application before starting. Your Napa DUI lawyer understands and can explain precise DMV guidelines for approval set forth in the California Code of Regulations, 13CCR118.00. Next, study the application carefully to understand how it is organized and layed out, and what is expected in each section. Complete it fully, or else you risk delay when the DMV returns it for incompleteness. Napa County DUI lawyers typically advise clients that all applicable sections must be fully completed, including all boxes, dollar and hours blanks, etc. DUI lawyers often advise using extra paper to fully explain answers if needed, rather than providing short, half-hearted explanations.

Write it to impress those who will read it. Napa DUI lawyers often advise to be mindful of who will read the submitted application and thus mindful of the eligibility requirements at all times. This is not an application to avoid substantial, or perhaps even severe, inconvenience to the applicant and/or family, but rather a sworn statement under penalty of perjury that the applicant has a truly critical need to drive for which the applicant's family depends upon the applicant financially or medically, or for which the applicant depends for his/her own financial support, or to attend school in Napa, Sonoma County or elsewhere.

Inadequate public transportation and inadequate alternate family transportation are a required part of each area of need for which one may qualify. Therefore it is very, very important to be sure to fully address this fundamental requirement. Review the Tips above under "Improve The Chances."

If an applicant lives by him/herself in Napa County, or elsewhere, and his/her income is essential to support him/herself (rent, food, energy and phone bill, repairs, etc) then typically the DMV will treat the applicant as his/her own family unit to qualify on page one of the application. The financial information in such cases would typically be the applicant's rather than the parent(s).

The license is not for driving during work. Note that the DMV typically does not allow this type of restricted license for driving during the course of employment, just to and from employment. Therefore it is likely that the DMV will automatically reject an application which includes an assertion that driving is required during a job.

Be sure to get all required signatures. The application pictured here (confirm the latest revision of your form is the same) indicates a place where the applicant and parent must sign at the end of Section I (on page two just above Section II) and either physician, principal and/or employer must complete their applicable Section(s) on page 2 and then sign in Section V. Regardless of which revision you are using, it is always true that blanks or missing signatures are likely to result in delay due to a returned application and further effort on the part of the Napa County applicant.

Consult with a lawyer first about your individual circumstances. These Tips are almost always given to clients, but they are not legal advice because they are necessarily generalized for this discussion. Your individual circumstances may vary and actual legal advice which is tailored to your specific life situation may be different for you. Therefore it is always best to hire a Napa DUI lawyer for a reasonable fee, such as Jake, to review your entire situation and give you the best advice to confirm your eligibility and maximize your chances of obtaining driving privileges from the DMV during a suspension due to a pending or recent Napa County DUI.

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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, 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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