The Financial Impact of a DUI in California
DUI costs in California are far higher than most drivers realize until they suffer a conviction. And the long-term costs can continue to surface long after the case is over. Financial costs are only part of the damaging fallout from a DUI. Avoiding a California DUI conviction is the only way to escape the expensive monetary penalties and the painful social stigma that follows those who get tagged with a DUI label.
Understanding the true financial impact of a California DUI conviction is important prior to choosing the best DUI defense lawyer. Without the help of an experienced and skilled California DUI defense lawyer, drivers can be required to pay thousands of dollars for the court’s DUI sentence and associated fees. But, as you will see, losing a DUI case costs more than you might think. We’ll look at the specific costs in this blog post.
Financial Costs of a DUI in California
The financial pain of a DUI arrest begins immediately.
Bail: A driver arrested in Los Angeles County for DUI should not assume they will be released on their own recognizance without needing to post bail. According to the official Los Angeles bail schedule, the standard first-offense DUI bail should be set at $5,000. If the case includes any alleged aggravating factors, an accident, an injury, a BAC over 0.15, or a prior DUI conviction, bail could be set as high as $10,000 or $15,000. If there was an accident involved, often times the bail is $100,000 (if anyone claims even a slight injury). We can typically have bail waived on non-injury DUIs and can expedite the release of the incarcerated driver.
Fines and Court Costs: California courts may impose fines up to $20,000 for a first DUI. The law says that DUI defendants must pay between $390-1000 in court fines. This is incredibly misleading. Let’s assume for a minute that the defendant received the minimum of $390. The court multiplies the base fine amount ($390) by something called a penalty assessment which will exponentially increase the fees issued by the court. A base fine of $390 will equate to well over $2,000. A higher base fine will lead to gigantic increases in the fine amount.
A second offense or third offense DUI can involve even higher fines. Some courts require that the defendant make a contribution to the MADD fund, or to other alcohol awareness programs.
Towing and Impound Fees: If a driver is alone when they’re arrested for DUI, their vehicle will be towed and impounded at their expense. Typical tow fees run between $300 and $1000, depending on the distance of the tow. And official impound fees are $47 a day. The arresting officer has discretion, and the court can also impound a car for up to 30 days following a first DUI conviction. A ten-day to thirty-day impound can cost several thousand dollars.
License Reinstatement Fees: With the expiration of the license suspension imposed by either the court or the DMV with a DUI arrest or conviction, the driver must pay to reinstate the license. The reinstatement fee will cost $125 for the DMV and $50 for a DUI conviction reinstatement.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID): California allows most drivers convicted of a DUI to drive even during the suspension period if they use a breathalyzer in their car, known as an ignition interlock device. The devices can be expensive and the driver must sign a contract to pay each month. Costs average between $75 and $150 to have the unit installed in each vehicle registered to the driver, plus a monthly fee of $70 to $100, and a recalibration fee every 60 days.
Insurance Premium Increases: A single DUI conviction will certainly increase a driver’s insurance premiums between 100 and 200%. The heightened risk of insuring a driver who has demonstrated either alcohol dependence or poor judgment by driving under the influence is not accepted lightly by insurance companies. If the DUI involves an accident or serious injury, the premium will rise still higher. Insurers will see the DUI and be able to factor it into the premium for 10 years.
Attorney’s Fees: With so much at stake in the driver’s life and facing a likely loss of at least $20,000 in fines and related costs, any California driver facing a DUI charge should hire the best DUI defense lawyer they can find. Investing some resources in the right Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer can result in saving tens of thousands of dollars over the next few years.
Other Potential DUI Penalties in California
Will your employer keep you on after learning about your DUI? Missing a few days of work might be forgiven, but jobs are not protected during jail sentences. If a DUI defendant drives for a living or holds a commercial driver’s license (CDL), their livelihood could be lost with a DUI conviction.
California DUIs also carry a minimum period of probation lasting three years. Living under the threat of a probation violation often interferes with even the simplest activities. If found to be driving a vehicle with “any” detectable level of alcohol in their bloodstream, a DUI probationer is in violation and may be jailed for up to a year.
An L.A. DUI Defense Lawyer Can Mitigate the Financial Impact of a DUI in California
The Law Offices of Hart J. Levin specializes in defending California drivers facing DUI and related charges. Attorney Levin and his associates have won nationwide recognition as the best DUI defense firm in Los Angeles County and throughout California. Their special attention to the details of every individual fact pattern allows them to identify the most potent legal grounds with which to challenge the prosecutor’s DUI case.
The most experienced L.A. DUI defense lawyers know that a successful DUI defense can be an acquittal after the trial or a getting favorable negotiated disposition from a prosecutor who knows the lawyer’s record of professional excellence, preparedness, and courtroom talent. Prosecutors do not want to work up a case they may lose. Facing a DUI defense lawyer whose expertise is widely recognized can discourage prosecutors from forcing a trial.
Helping clients navigate the DUI prosecution in the criminal courts, the administrative hearing at the DMV, and recovering from the social and financial impact of a DUI conviction is how The Law Offices of Hart J. Levin spends each day.
The costs of a California DUI conviction can be devastating to the finances and the social standing of any person facing these charges. The mission of Attorney Hart J. Levin and his associates is to fight for every driver’s legal rights, defend against the DUI charge, and obtain the best possible outcome for every client.