Bail for DUI in Sonoma County

The local rules for paying bail after a drunk driving arrest

Bail -- the money you must pay to the court to ensure that you will show up at all required court appearances – is typically paid at arraignment or soon afterwards. If you’re arrested for a DUI in Sonoma County, you will be booked and held in jail until you post bail. In some cases the judicial officer may waive payment of bail on the condition that you appear in court when required (released on one's "own recognizance" or “OR”). Occasionally, a defendant may be denied bail and forced to remain in jail (for example, a felony DUI resulted in serious personal injury and the judicial officer believes the defendant poses a “flight risk”).

What is the bail for a DUI in Sonoma County?

The Sonoma County bail schedule sets the following guidelines for bail:

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs w/BAC more than .08


DUI with one prior conviction w/10 years


DUI with two prior convictions w/10 years 


DUI with three or more prior convictions


DUI with one prior conviction w/10 years


DUI of alcohol/drugs with prior felony conviction of DUI or vehicular manslaughter


Felony DUI of alcohol/drugs causing bodily injury (1st offense)


Defeating interlock device


Increasing or reducing bail

Keep in mind that these sums are not fixed. The judicial officer can increase the bail based on the number of priors, the type of injury, and other aggravating factors (for example if you failed to show up in court in the past). 

In today’s anti-drunk-driving climate, it is often a challenge to convince the judicial officer in Sonoma County to reduce bail from the amount established in the schedule. However, you are more likely to see bail reduced (or waived -- OR status) if it is a first offense without a collision or injury, a borderline BAC (close to .08), and you have ties to community, a steady job, no previous record, and family members living nearby. You may have better luck reducing bail if you seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in DUI defense in the Sonoma County area.

Paying bail

You must either

  • pay the full bail amount,
  • submit property equal in value to the bail,
  • post a bond guaranteeing payment (arranged by a bail bonds agency) or
  • have bail waived because you will be released on your own recognizance.

If you paid bail, then after you shown up for all required court appearances, your bail is refunded minus a small administrative fee.

Bail bonds

Many people of limited means choose to use a bail bond agency that submits a bond to the court agreeing to pay the full bail amount if you fail to show up for any required appearances. This is done in return for payment of a nonrefundable fee (in California, the fee is limited to 10%). Most bail bonds accept credit cards and usually require payment prior to posting of the bond. In some cases, the bail bonds agency acquires an interest (as collateral) in your property. In summary, a bail bonds agency may provide, an essential though expensive lifeline.


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