If you are facing a DUI charge or have already been convicted of a DUI, you may be wondering what will be the total cost of a California DUI. The reality is that the answer is very complex and that one cannot calculate the cost until it is known which DUI is in view. 

The cost of DUIs in human life is staggering, with there being 10,000 U.S. fatalities per year in due to alcohol-related accidents, besides numerous serious bodily injuries. And the cost to the DUI offender in terms of loss of driver's license, difficulty in finding employment, and other life issues is also very significant. However, for practical reasons, we will mainly look at the financial costs of a DUI in the information given below.

Finally, note that the costs of a DUI are not a given but are affected by the sentence you are handed down. At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we can often get DUI charges dismissed or acquitted to avoid the costs altogether. When that is not possible, we work to negotiate a favorable plea bargain that will minimize the costs for our clients. 

To learn more about the costs of a DUI in California and how to keep them to a minimum, call us 24/7 at 310-848-1376.

Costs for a First-time DUI in California

California has four of the top 10 DUI cities in the U.S., with L.A. being only behind San Diego in DUIs issued within the city limits. Thus, DUIs cost Californians a huge toll in financial, as well as in other, terms. What it costs an individual convicted of DUI varies greatly based on their specific sentence. 

However, for a first-time DUI, expenses will likely include all/most of the following:

  • A fine of $390 to $1,000, plus court fees, which can land the total at $1,800 or more. However, aggravating factors can drive up the fines and fees. For example, you could pay up to $10,000 if a child under 14 was in the car with you during your DUI incident. On the other hand, a plea agreement could get part of your fines/fees exchanged for community service hours.
  • A DUI School that will last at least 3 months and cost around $600. You must pay for the DUI School yourself, and the longer the class, the more it will cost.
  • If you are bailed out of jail after your DUI arrest, will cost 10% of the total bail amount. The total will range from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars range, depending on the severity of your DUI charge (felony vs. misdemeanor; simple vs. aggravated). However, on average, it is only around $150 to get bailed out after a DUI.
  • If your vehicle was towed after the DUI incident, you will likely have to pay a $100 to $200 release fee to get your car back. If your car is impounded, the impound fee is usually $215. If your car is stored following the tow, that alone could cost you over $100 a day. Often enough, it will be a 5-day storage period that totals to $685.
  • Filing the paperwork for a DUI court case will vary in cost based on the length, severity, and complexity of the case, but $800 is a fairly usual amount to pay.
  • If there were any injured victims in a DUI accident you caused, you will have to pay a $500 fee into the California Victim Compensation Program.
  • You may also have to pay a separate settlement on a tort action filed against you if you caused serious bodily injury or death to another in a DUI accident. Even property damage alone will incur some extra costs. In some cases, these expenses can reach into the millions of dollars range. 
  • There could also be fees for ambulance and other emergency services at the scene of the DUI accident, including fire and police fees for the extra cost to their departments.
  • Though more common in repeat offense DUIs, you could be required to install an IID (ignition interlock device) on your vehicle at your own expense, which may cost around $800, the exact cost varying based on how long you must use the IID and pay maintenance fees. In cases of repeat offenses with an addiction to alcohol being present, you might even have to pay for a SCRAM device, which will detect alcohol consumption by testing your sweat. The device is secured around your ankle and can cost hundreds of dollars to install and maintain.

Repeat offense and aggravated DUIs will have higher fines, longer DUI School requirements, and larger costs all across the board. But even for a first-time DUI, you will likely have to pay $3,000 or so based on the costs mentioned above.

In addition, there is the cost of spending 48 hours or more behind bars in a county jail. There is time spent at DUI School and the gas used to get there and back. There is the inconvenience of losing your license for months or years on end or, at best, of being able to drive only to/from work and DUI School on a restricted license.

There is also a cost to your reputation and to your ability to find gainful employment and get approved for a renting lease or get accepted on a college application. 

As to the total financial costs, including insurance rate premium increases and attorney fees, you could end up spending $18,000 dollars ultimately as a result of a DUI conviction.

Increased Auto Insurance Rates

When your current or a prospective future auto insurance company hears you have a DUI on your record, they will raise the premiums in response or else simply cancel/refuse the policy. In many cases, it could cost up to $2,500 extra a year in car insurance, and in some cases, up to $40,000 extra across a 13-year period.

Those are staggering figures, and while the exact numbers depend on which insurer you use, what car your drive, and other insurance rate factors like age, gender, and education level, you can be sure a DUI will cost you a significant amount extra on car insurance once your license is reinstated.

You will also have to file the SR22 through your insurer for three years or more, which could carry a $25 to $50 filing fee, plus pay the $125 license reissue fee to the state of California. If you switch insurers, the SR22 filing fee will apply again, and if there is a gap in coverage of even a day, your license could be re-suspended until you are insured again. That could cost you another reissue fee.

Is Hiring a DUI Defense Attorney Worth It?

Another expense, though a far cheaper one actually than the extra car insurance costs, is a DUI defense attorney fee (often from $2,000 to $5,000, but varying based on the length and nature of your case).

At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we charge only reasonable rates and treat you with respect and honesty from day one. We understand the situation you are in and make it our mission to assist you in every way we can. While we must charge fees for our services, we work diligently to prevent a DUI conviction or to at least get you a reduced charge and/or sentence that will save you money, save your license, and keep you out of jail.

You are always better off at your DMV or court hearing with the aid of an experienced DUI defense attorney. Your chances of winning the most favorable outcome possible to your case (and of minimizing or even eliminating the costs of a DUI) are much higher than "going it alone."

It is true that not all DUI attorneys serve the best interests of their clients. There are "sharks" out there who are inexperienced at DUI cases to begin with, shirk their duties and spend little time on your case, overcharge you, are not upfront and honest about their fees, do "bait and switch" by advertising excessively low fees then suddenly piling on gigantic amounts of hidden fees, and who "guarantee" a total victory when in reality that is not humanly possible to do.

We at Los Angeles DUI Lawyer instead work hard to build trust with our clients and have done so for years and years until gaining a solid reputation in L.A., Southern California, and beyond. We always put your best interests first and fight for your future like it was our own.

How Do DUI Defense Attorneys Determine Their Fees?

In general, lawyer fees are not given as a fixed total price that is known at the outset but as an hourly rate. The more time spent on your case, the more it will cost, regardless of which firm you opt for. Thus, your need to look at the rates, the skill level, and the trust level when selecting your DUI defense lawyer.

Fees will be lower and more determinable early on when a DUI case is simple and has a good chance of being won by an experienced attorney in a relatively short period of time. Of necessity, longer, more difficult, more complex cases (and cases where other charges besides DUI are being handled at the same time) will involve higher fees.

Another issue is to ask if there are special, additional fees for blood sample re-tests, subpoenas issued, or rides to court during the trial (when your license is suspended in the interim). It isn't necessarily wrong if there are, but this must be looked at along with the overall basic fees and in relation to the level of expertise and service you are receiving.

In the end, you want to hire a DUi lawyer who is focused on DUI cases, who understands how the prosecution thinks but is not currently working on the prosecution side of the DUI fence, and who is familiar with the local L.A. court system. It is possible you will have to pay more to get a good lawyer as opposed to a mediocre or poor one, but you are likely to ultimately save more both financially and in other ways by opting for the best possible DUI defense attorney.

Expect a Free Consultation

Finally, look for a DUI defense firm that offers 100% free initial legal consultations. A free initial consultation indicates that you are dealing with a law firm that is confident that once you talk to them, see how well they understand your case, and investigate their history/reputation, you will likely stay with them.

At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we always give you a free consultation because we believe you should be able to assess us and make an informed decision on whether to hire us before having to pay anything at all for your DUI defense.

Contact Us Today for Help

At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we have a team of skilled DUI defense lawyers at your service who can help to minimize the costs of a DUI conviction or even prevent that conviction to begin with.

We have a deep understanding of California DUI law and of the effects DUIs have in the lives of our clients. We work diligently in behalf of our clients to win them the best possible outcome to their DUI case so as to minimize the costs of a DUI.

For a free legal consultation, call us 24/7/365 at 310-848-1376.