Being convicted of DUI is not cheap. In fact, we often say that DUI is one of the most expensive misdemeanors you can face in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. This is because a single DUI charge brings so many different types of expenses associated with different crimes:
- Criminal fines ordered by the judge
- Administrative costs
- Money paid to victims
- The cost of an impounded vehicle
- Being ordered into expensive deterrent programs
We wondered: what is the most that one DUI can cost you? To find out, we decided to look at a first time DUI with no injuries or deaths involved. The answer we got was staggering:
One DUI conviction in Southern California can cost you $15,649.
Here’s the math showing how we got that number:
|Approximate court penalties (depends on jurisdiction):||$1,245|
|Booking & fingerprinting:||$170|
|Vehicle towing & impound fee:||$350|
|Victim Restitution Fund:||$140|
|3-month DUI school:||$575|
|DMV driver’s license fee:||$125|
|Car insurance increase (over 10 years):||$10,154|
|Bail bond cost (up to):||$2,500|
Some of these costs will depend on your case, or vary slightly depending on where you were arrested. But as a general rule, this is the kind of expense you could be facing if you’re found guilty. This is one of the biggest reasons you should speak to a DUI lawyer as soon after your arrest as possible.
Understanding the Numbers
Many of the costs of a DUI are shrouded in legal language. Here’s a simple explanation of each of the numbers:
- Minimum fine. Fines for most DUI cases range between $390 and $1,000.
- Court penalties. Court “administrative assessments” are set primarily by local government. They are meant to reflect the cost the local court bears in handling the DUI case, so that the person “guilty” of the crime can pay that cost instead of taxpayers. In practice, these assessments are a way of charging a DUI convict far more than state statute allows.
- Booking & fingerprinting. Like the courts, police also charge convicts for their costs. The booking fee includes the cost of recording fingerprints as well as a photography fee for the “mug shot.”
- Vehicle towing & impound fee. Impound costs will vary by location. The fees given here are an average for what to expect based on (a) the towing itself, and (b) the impound fee at the Police Garage, and (c) the release fee for getting your vehicle back. The farther your car has to be towed, or the longer you leave it in impound, the higher the amount you’ll owe.
- Victim Restitution Fund. All DUI convicts must pay money into the state’s Restitution Fund, which provides money to compensate crime victims—even if your DUI hurt no one.
- 3-month DUI school. DUI school is a program that teaches you about the dangers of drunk driving and educates you on alcohol and drug safety. It is required if you’re convicted. The $575 figure we give above is the lowest we’ve seen, but in Los Angeles the price can often run up to $800.
- DMV driver’s license fee. Your license will be suspended as part of your DUI sentence. But once you’ve served your suspension, you won’t just get your license back. You must go to the DMV and apply for it, paying the $125 fee ($100 for drivers under 21).
- Car insurance increase. A DUI will virtually always affect your car insurance rates. The exact amount will vary considerably based on your individual situation. Our estimated amount here is for a “typical” driver and reflects a premium increase of over $84 a month. Insurance costs will be dramatically higher for a driver under 21.
- Bail bond cost. Many first time DUI offenses do not require bail. But if yours does, you will likely need to take out a bail bond (loan) to cover it. The $2,500 cost reflects the 10% fee you’ll pay on a $25,000 bail bond, the maximum you could be ordered to pay.
Additional Costs of a DUI
The costs above still don’t cover every expense you may have to pay. You could also end up facing:
- The cost of installing an ignition interlock device in your car
- Lost wages from time missed at work
- Transportation costs while your license is suspended
- The cost of a lawsuit
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you need to speak to a lawyer. Don’t wait until the bills are piling up. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your FREE consultation today.