Bail is money you leave with the court to guarantee you will return for trial.
If you are arrested for DUI in the state of California, you will be taken to a police station and processed. Often you will be held in jail for a few hours or overnight. After you are “booked,” one of three things can happen:
- You may be released on your own recognizance. This means you are free to go as long as you promise to return for trial.
- You may be told you will be held until trial. This is rare unless you have a long criminal record or have fled court dates in the past.
- You may be allowed to go if you post bail.
Bail is money you pay to the court to be released from jail. The full amount will be returned to you as long as you appear at all of your court-ordered hearings (such as the arraignment) and your trial.
How much bail will I have to pay?
The amount of bail is determined by a schedule that is set by local law. Each crime has a specific bail amount attached to it. With DUI, the exact amount you may have to pay will depend on whether it is your first DUI and other factors. Bail for DUI in Los Angeles is not cheap—it ranges from $5,000 minimum all the way up to $25,000.
The jailers who process you are the ones who will tell you the amount your bail is set at. It’s important to understand that these individuals have no control over the amount. They are not judges and they cannot choose to “go easy” on you. Most of them are either officers (often with the Sheriff’s Department) or administrative employees of the jail.
You do not have to pay the amount out of pocket, however. Most DUI defendants will ask their family to get a bail bond instead.
How does a bail bond work?
A bail bond is a short-term loan to cover bail. There are many local bail bond services, and most of them work similarly. They are open 24 hours a day and can often get your bond approved in as little as 30 minutes. A friend or relative can go to a bail bond service and do this for you.
The drawback to a bail bond is that you must pay interest on the loan. Usually the interest is a fat 10% fee. That means you pay:
- $500 on a $5,000 bail bond
- $2,500 on a $25,000 bail bond
What if I can’t afford bail or a bail bond?
Most people can’t afford to pay $2,500 out of pocket. The bail costs for DUI are excessive, especially since it’s not a violent crime. If you cannot afford bail, you can ask a judge to lower it. You do this by requesting a bail hearing. But you should go into your bail hearing with a good DUI lawyer representing you. Defendants who go before a judge without a lawyer are unlikely to get much or any reduction in their bail.
You can learn more about how to win a bail hearing here.
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.