DUI arrests in California: Understanding the financial costs

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In addition to the criminal and administrative consequences of a DUI conviction, people may also be subject to costly fines, penalties and other expenses.

When flashing lights in a person's rearview mirror leads to drunk driving arrest, Californians, may think first of the potential jail time or the loss of their driver's license. While these possible consequences are certainly cause for concern, even first-time driving under the influence convictions may also carry a range of significant financial costs. There is the cost of a bail bond after the arrest to get out of custody pending resolution of the case in addition to many other costs. It may be helpful for those charged with DUI to understand what those costs might be.

Fines and penalties

Under state law, drivers convicted of drunk driving are subject to fines. Depending on various factors, these fines may range from $390 up to $1,000. Other fees and penalties significantly increase the total due. In addition to the fine those additional fees include county assessment, state assessment, booking fees, victim' restitution fund, screening fees and much more so that the minimum fine with assessments in San Diego Superior Court for a DUI is about $ 2133 and the maximum can be closer to $ 5000. However, most cases are resolved with the minimum fine and assessments. Monthly payment plans are also available through Court Collections based on ability to pay, but that total fine is still significant.

Driver's license reinstatement

Upon their arrest, motorists may have their driver's licenses confiscated and be notified of a license suspension. Subject to an administrative hearing suspension and also conviction suspension, they may lose their driving privileges for between four months and five years, depending on the blood alcohol level, their prior records, the charge conviction and other factors. While they cannot operate a motor vehicle, they may incur various costs for alternative transportation. Further, they must pay a $125 or greater reinstatement fee in order to get a valid or restricted license or re-issued once they are eligible.

Alcohol treatment programs

In nearly every case, the Court orders people convicted of driving under the influence to complete an alcohol education or treatment program. DUI mandated programs depend on the age of the defendant, whether it is a first offense or there are prior DUI offenses within 10 years. Individuals may be ordered to participate in programs for three, six, nine, 18 or 30 months. The drivers themselves are responsible for the costs of the program which is in addition to the Court fines. These programs can range from several hundred dollars to well over a thousand dollars depending on the length of the program.

Additionally, depending on the DUI conviction, the jurisdiction, the blood alcohol level, and prior convictions, an individual may be required to install an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) on any vehicle they drive to test for alcohol before the car will start. This device involves an installation charge and monthly monitoring fee,

Other associated expenses

There are numerous other expenses that may accompany a DUI arrest and conviction in California, which may add up quickly. It is common for law enforcement to have people's vehicles towed and impounded when they are charged with driving under the influence. It may cost motorists $215 or more to get their vehicles back. Additionally, their insurance premiums may increase, potentially costing them significantly more.

If an individual is arrested for DUI with an accident, then they may be required to additionally pay expenses incurred by public agencies responding to the incident at the time of arrest. This can include the officers time, paramedics, and other responders.

Seeking legal assistance

While many California drivers are aware drunk driving arrests are punished harshly, they may still underestimate the short-term and long-term consequences of a DUI conviction. Driving under the influence convictions may affect people's finances well after their arrests, as well as their personal and professional lives. Therefore, those who are facing DUI charges may benefit from obtaining legal representation. A lawyer can review the case for possible defenses and also look for individual mitigating factors and issues that will help negotiate the best possible resolution. Discussing your case with a DUI defense attorney will not only help you understand the law, possible consequences, but also the process.

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