A woman was stopped at a traffic light on East Washington Street at the on-ramp to southbound U.S. Highway 101 when the crime occurred at about 9:50 p.m., Sgt. Andrew Urton said.
A man dressed in a hooded sweatshirt approached her car, opened the driver's door and demanded several times that the woman get out, Urton said.
The woman managed to close the door, then sped away and called police, Urton said.
Police arrived within minutes and detained 52-year-old Oran Randall York, a transient, nearby, Urton said.
The woman identified York as the man who tried to take her car, Urton said.
York was arrested on suspicion of attempted carjacking. During questioning at police headquarters he admitted trying to take the woman's car so he could drive to San Francisco, Urton said.
York was booked into Sonoma County Jail.