Facing a DUI charge in Southern California can be very costly. It is one of the most expensive misdemeanors you can commit in the Los Angeles area. In addition to the minimum fines, there are costs you may not be aware of, and these can reach well into thousands of dollars.
Even when a DUI is “simple”– with no injury or deaths involved — DUI is not a simple matter. Before you decide to just pay the fine and try to move on, it helps to speak with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer to understand exactly what you are up against.
Understanding the Costs Involved in a DUI
When you are stopped for DUI, the police officer will administer a field sobriety test, such as the walk and turn test. They will also ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test to get a reading of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you are over the legal limit of .08% BAC, you will be arrested for DUI, and your car will be towed and impounded.
You will receive a temporary license, you will be fingerprinted and booked into a county jail, and you will be given a court date for your hearing. Simple, right? It’s actually not so simple when you think about the different types of expenses associated with the different crimes you may also have committed, like reckless driving or driving with a minor child in the car.
Because you must deal with both the court system and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) separately, there is another layer of expenses you may not have considered. For example, you could easily be responsible for:
- Criminal fines ordered by the judge
- Administrative costs, such as fingerprinting and booking
- Restitution money paid to victims
- Costs to install an ignition interlock device (IID)
- License reinstatement fees from the DMV
- The cost to tow and impound your vehicle
- The fee to have your vehicle released from impound
- The cost of attending mandatory DUI deterrent programs
A Breakdown of Basic Costs for a First-Time DUI
If you are arrested for a first time DUI with no injuries, deaths, or property damage, the expenses are still staggering: one conviction in Southern California can cost you a minimum of as much as $15,649. Here is a breakdown of the basic fines and costs you will face:
Approximate court penalties (depends on jurisdiction):
Booking & fingerprinting:
Vehicle towing & impound fee:
Victim Restitution Fund:
3-month DUI school:
DMV driver’s license fee:
Car insurance increase (over 10 years):
Bail bond cost (up to):
As a general rule, this is the kind of expense you could be facing if you are found guilty. Some of these costs will depend on your case, or vary slightly depending on the county in which you were arrested. To minimize these fees and costs, it is important to speak with a qualified Los Angeles DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
Understanding the Numbers
An experienced DUI lawyer can help you understand the details and the purpose of the various court and DMV costs. Many of the fines and expenses associated with a DUI are shrouded in legal language. Here’s a simple explanation of each of the numbers:
- Minimum fine: Fines for DUI cases range between $390 and $1,000.
- Court penalties: Administrative assessments reflect the cost the local court bears in handling the DUI case. The person charged with DUI pays the costs instead of the taxpayers.
- Booking & fingerprinting: 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, as well as by how far your vehicle must be towed and how long you leave it in the impound lot. It also includes Police Garage fees and release fees.
- 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: This program teaches you about the dangers of drunk driving, and alcohol and drug safety. It is required if you’re convicted and costs between $575 and $800.
- DMV driver’s license fee: Your license will be suspended as part of your DUI sentence. You must go to the DMV and apply for a license reinstatement, which carries a $125 fee ($100 for drivers under 21).
- Car insurance increase: A DUI nearly always raises your car insurance rates. The exact amount varies individually, but a typical increase is $84 a month. It is often much higher for a driver under 21.
- Bail bond cost: Most first-time DUI offenses do not require bail. If yours does, you will likely need to take out a bail bond (loan) to cover it, and the $2,500 cost reflects the 10% fee you’ll pay on a $25,000 bail bond, which is the maximum you could be ordered to pay.
Ignition Interlock Devices – Expensive and Mandatory
It is clear that being convicted of DUI is very expensive. The court and DMV costs alone can easily drain your savings, but there are still additional expenses you could face. California is extremely serious about reducing alcohol-related vehicle incidents and has implemented many requirements, such as the ignition interlock device (IID).
IIDs, or breathalyzers, are used following your conviction for a DUI. They are mandatory to avoid a license suspension, and you must provide proof of installation by an authorized company to the court. The court will notify the DMV of the device so if you are stopped again for any reason, the police officer will see it on your record.
An average IID installation in California costs between $75 and $100, and the monthly fee ranges from $70 to $100. You must also pay to have it calibrated every 60 days or risk fines for failure to meet the requirements set by law. The total cost can add up to several thousand dollars, depending on how long you must keep the device installed.
Second, third, and subsequent DUI convictions require longer periods, increasing the costs substantially. If you are suffering financially as a result of losing your job, it is possible to apply for assistance in paying for the IID.
Additional Costs of a DUI
If you still are not convinced of the high costs of a DUI conviction, there are still more expenses you could have to pay. If you are unable to drive because of a suspended license or jail time, you will lose wages from your job. You could even be fired if you miss enough time or if your employer has a strict policy against convictions.
In addition, your car will be impounded until you have an IID installed so you will have to pay for alternative transportation. In cities like Los Angeles, public transport can be difficult to navigate when you are accustomed to relying on your own car. Likewise, using ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft will quickly add up if you must use them for commuting to work or running errands.
An important cost you need to consider is the price of a lawsuit to defend yourself against the state. Prosecuting attorneys try DUI cases every day, and they know the best ways to secure convictions against drivers. By yourself, you are unlikely to know where to begin to fight a DUI and the costs involved.
There are ways to lessen your expenses, but it requires the guidance of a skilled DUI attorney to understand the legal complexities you face.
DUIs Can Affect Your College Costs
Much like the way imprisonment and license suspension can affect your wages and ability to work, a DUI conviction can also cause significant damage to your school costs. It can ruin your ability to qualify for or maintain any grants, scholarships, or loans you may be relying on for higher education. Because a DUI can be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony, the stakes are very high.
A felony DUI means that you will be required to serve time in either county jail or state prison. Being incarcerated prevents you from applying for nearly all federal aid or federal loan programs. If you are already receiving federal aid for college, the program will be suspended and you will be denied a chance to apply in the future.
Hire a Qualified Southern California DUI Attorney Today
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, don’t wait until the bills are piling up. Hiring an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer is key to reducing your costs and winning the best result for your case. Contact us today using our online form for your free consultation.