We've all seen the billboards and read the articles that argue a California DUI can cost you upwards of $10,000 once all is said and done. If you have, you are probably aware of some of the costs involved. You will face a variety of expenses stemming from your sentencing, the effects of the conviction on your driving privileges, and various residual expenses such as an increase in your car insurance. At a minimum, you can expect:
- A fine plus penalty assessments. The fine can be set anywhere from $390 to $1,000 plus penalty assessments. These assessments are added to many criminal conviction fines and are used to fund programs that work to counteract the effects of criminal activity on the community. In California, these assessments can add up to thousands of dollars.
- The cost of DUI school. The length and type of DUI school you have to complete will depend on your conviction and sentencing. First-time DUI offenders can expect at least three months of classes but could face six or nine months depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Second-time DUI offenders face 18 months of classes, and third-time DUI offenders can face up to 30 months of classes. The costs of these classes are on the offender, but your lack of ability to pay will not prevent you from completing this requirement. Some classes have sliding scales and you may only have to pay what you are able.
- A restricted license fee or license reinstatement fee. You will need to pay a fee when you convert your suspend license to a restricted license as well as when you have your license fully reinstated.
- Increased car insurance rates. Your insurance company may raise your rates. Your insurance rates can easily double depending on the company you are with. Some companies refuse to insure DUI offenders and drop the coverage.
You may also face:
- The costs of an Ignition Interlock Device in any car you drive or own including rental, installation, maintenance, and calibration. This applies to all first-time DUI offenders in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties but can apply to other first-time offenders in other counties at the judge's discretion.
- Cost of missed work from the arrest, jail time, court dates, and any other requirements you have, such as community service. Some first-time DUI offenders can be given jail alternatives that allow them to maintain their normal work schedule. Having a skilled attorney assist you with your case can help increase your chances of being granted a jail alternative.
- Costs associated with a suspended license. These can vary widely. You may need to take the bus, a taxi, or a ride-share service to get around. You may need to have purchases delivered to you instead of picking them up or give up on certain opportunities because you can't drive.
- Punitive damages. If you injure or kill someone while you are driving under the influence, the judge can order you to pay punitive damages, which punish you for your act. They are paid to the victim of the offense, such as the property owner, injured person, or next of kin.
- Legal fees. The costs of a DUI defense attorney can vary quite a bit depending on the attorney's experience and the county in which they practice. A good attorney may get you out of a conviction and this can be worth several thousand dollars. Make sure you consult with a few DUI defense attorneys in your area. Dedicated DUI defense attorneys generally have more hands-on experience and may give you a better chance at a favorable outcome. Whatever you do, it is sometimes a mistake to forgo legal representation in an attempt to keep costs down.
California DUI law is very complex. And, since a California DUI can cost you so much, it is usually worth your time and resources to consult with a California DUI defense attorney about your case. A DUI defense attorney will be well aware of all the costs involved in a DUI and help you fight your charges so you can be spared them. An attorney may also be able to negotiate a more favorable sentence for you to reduce your costs if possible. For example, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain for you resulting in a wet reckless conviction instead of a DUI conviction. This conviction may come with a reduced fine and less jail time than a DUI conviction. It will, however, most likely result in an increase in your car insurance rates. Speaking with an attorney can give you an idea of your options in your case and what you can do to reduce the impact a DUI charge has on your life.
If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and are facing DUI charges, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens will work hard to defend your rights and help you fight your charges. Attorney Martens has handled thousands of cases over a span of ten years of criminal defense practice and can fight hard for your rights in court. Contact attorney Christopher Martens for experienced criminal defense counsel today. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.