DUI Cost: The Top 13 Factors Affecting Your DUI Cost

Depending on where you live, your prior record, and the facts of your case, your total DUI cost can easily exceed $10,000.  In some scenarios, the true cost of a DUI can go past $100,000 or more. 

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the Top 13 Factors Affecting Your DUI Cost.

For the purposes of this article, we are assuming that your DUI case is in the State of California.  If you received your DUI in another state, you should contact a DUI lawyer in your jurisdiction. 

1) Posting Bail and Bonding Out

The first DUI cost you will pay in most cases occurs after your release from arrest.  Posting bail or financing a bail bond can cost anywhere from $500 into the thousands of dollars.

The below chart shows the standard bail rates for a DUI in California, taken from the current Los Angeles County Bail Schedule:

dui costs for bail
DUI Costs for Bail

2) Towing and Impound

Most DUI arrests involve a tow and impound.  The car is usually towed a short distance then held in impound.  Release requires payment of fees to the police department, followed by the payment for towing and impound.  These costs will add another $500 or more to your total DUI cost.

3) Emergency Response Costs

emergency response

After a California DUI, many drivers are surprised to receive bills in the mail from the local police department, paramedic services, or other emergency response costs.  CA Government Code 51350 allows for the driver to be billed for these costs under circumstances with a maximum cap of $12,000.

4) Lost Wages increase DUI Cost

Being arrested and held in custody after your DUI can often result in missed days at work or even the loss of your employment.  Court appearances and multiple trips to the DMV will all cost you valuable time that could be spent at work.  Depending on your income level, these lost wages could range from the hundreds, well into the thousands of dollars.

5) Hiring a Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer to defend you on your California DUI case will cost you between $3,000-$8,000 for a basic first time offense.  Drivers with prior convictions can expect to pay a fee of at least $5,000. 

If your case involved an accident with injuries this fee can increase significantly as the case becomes more complex and the penalties more severe.  If you or a family member were a victim in a DUI related crash, you should contact a lawyer immediately regarding your rights.

6) Probation Costs

If you are assigned a probation officer on your case, you will be charged for the price of supervision.  This supervision is usually for 36 months or longer and you can be billed over $100 a month for the entire period of probation.  

7) Fines and Fees

For almost all DUI cases in California, your fines and fees will total between $2,000 and $3,000.   This DUI cost can be reduced significantly or even eliminated if your DUI lawyer obtains credit for time served and that time is applied to the fine.

8) DUI Classes are Part of Your DUI Cost

California DUI classes range anywhere from 12 hours in length to 30 months.  All cases are unique and subject to the discretion of the Judge, but as a guideline here, are some typical costs for DUI Classes:

  • $400: 12 hour class for wet reckless 
  • $700 – $1,600: 3 or 9 month class for first time offenders 
  • $2,000: 18 month class for repeat offenders
  • $2,500: 30 month class for third time (or more) offenders with the 30/30 program

9) Restitition

Your DUI cost will rise significantly if you were in an accident.  Accidents will always increase the penalties you face in court, at the DMV, and financially.  You will be ordered by the court to pay for any damages to property or injuries to victims.  This DUI cost can be extremely high if anyone was injured or killed.   The cost of Injuries is the true wildcard of DUI cost and can range anywhere from $0 to millions.

10) DMV Issues

A California DUI will usually result in a suspension of your license.  The loss of your license often results in loss of employment or even more jail time due to driving with a suspended license.  License reinstatement is complex and costly.  Contact a California DUI lawyer for details on how to protect your license.

11) Professional Licensing Issues Can Raise Your DUI Cost

If you hold a State-issued license to be employed as a nurse, doctor, dentist, lawyer, real estate agent or broker, teacher, etc., your DUI cost will include any discipline imposed by the state board.   To protect your professional license, you should consider hiring not just a DUI lawyer, but also a lawyer who specializes in State license defense for your profession.   

12) Increased Insurance Costs

All California drivers will need to consider the effect of higher car insurance rates when calculating DUI cost.  Increases of $100 or more per month can add up fast when you consider that drivers usually faced increased premiums after a DUI case for 5 to 7 years.

13) Ignition Interlock Device

Effective January 1, 2019 all California DUI convictions trigger a mandatory order for the installation of a breathalyzer in your car, known as the Ignition Interlock Device, or “IID”.  The costs of installation ( approximately $150) and monthly service ($50-125) is yet another DUI cost to add to your list.

Effect on Your Future

Although not a hard cost, the effect a DUI will have on your future is still a cost worth considering.

License suspensions and DUI convictions can have a significant impact on your future, especially due to your status as a convicted criminal once having a felony or misdemeanor record. Given the choice, employers will always choose a candidate with a clean record.  Lost employment opportunities means potential lost money, further adding to your DUI cost.  

Contact a California DUI Lawyer to Discuss Your Case

As a DUI lawyer for over two decades, I have handled everything from a basic first time offense with a traffic stop, to accidents resulting in injury and death. I have helped many clients get their DUI case dismissed or reduced, and I have taken multiple cases through jury trial including obtaining a not guilty verdict for my client on a DUI murder charge.

To contact me for a free consultation on your DUI case, please click below.

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