The Average Cost Of a DUI In California

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The average cost of a first time DUI in any jurisdiction or state typically averages around $10,000, and in state of California, according to the California Drivers Handbook warnings, these costs will likely be more. The following article breaks down the costs associated with DUI arrest and conviction in the state of California. There are several factors that will usually increase the DUI cost CA drivers incur, including arrest for elevated blood alcohol content, minors present in the vehicle, DUI causing an accident, and second or subsequent DUI offenses.

Costs of a First Time DUI Offense in California

  • Bail or Bond: In rare cases, a driver may be released on his or her own recognizance, but in practice, the costs of bailing out of jail immediately following an arrest can run anywhere from $150 to over $2,000 dollars.
  • Impound and Towing Fees: Unless a passenger takes the driver’s car from the scene of the arrest, a driver upon release from jail will have to pay towing and impound fees for his or her car. These costs, depending on the location, can range from $100 to over $1,000 dollars, depending on the length of time left in impound and the city’s method for charging drivers for towing vehicles. If left in impound for too long, a vehicle can also be auctioned off.
  • Insurance Premium Increases: Immediately following arrest, regardless of conviction in most cases, a driver’s insurance rates will immediately increase in the best-case scenario. Worst case, they are dropped from their insurance coverage carrier. The increased insurance premium costs will last at least three (3) years, and in most cases, it will take a driver more than five (5) years of incident-free driving to obtain preferred driver status with a major insurance company. Total costs over time for insurance increases depend on the driver and car, but average to more than $5,000 dollars in most cases.
  • Fines and Fees: For the conviction itself, a driver faces court-imposed fines, which are scheduled per state criminal statutes. These fines widely vary from state to state, and are usually at the court’s discretion. First time offenders in the state of California face fines of $1,400 to $1,8000 dollars depending on the county jurisdiction of arrest.
  • Legal Fees: Here is where a driver can really accrue serious expenses, but also, potentially alleviate others. Legal costs widely vary based on geographic location, the specific lawyer retained, and the length and extent of each defense. The costs of legal fees can range from $300 for an immediate guilty plea up to $25,000 for a comprehensive criminal defense strategy.
  • Alternative Sentence Completion: In most cases, a first time offender will serve an alternative sentence in lieu of incarceration. The costs of this process are virtually limitless and seemingly arbitrary at times, but will include alcohol education courses, driving school courses, probation costs, ignition interlock device costs, alcohol evaluation and treatment costs, and victim’s compensation fund fees, alongside numerous other minor fees that ultimately add up. Costs of this process will widely vary based on the specific terms of the individual driver’s sentence.

Getting Legal Help with DUI in California

In reality, the aforementioned fees and other costs do not even include costs and losses related to employment, or lack thereof, in light of a California DUI conviction, as well as issues regarding transportation while license suspended, reinstatement of license, and other considerations. In short, there serious fallout and potential losses over time following conviction will require any driver to consult with a lawyer about making a serious attempt to dismiss or reduce outstanding DUI charges.

Learn more about Getting Help for a DUI.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice or representation,
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