How Much Does a DUI Really Cost?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on August 03, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.

Every DUI is unique, which means not all DUIs cost the same. State DUI laws and the particular circumstances of your case will determine your exact cost, but recent studies have shown that a first time DUI in California can cost almost $16,000.

Here's a breakdown of the factors that will determine how much a DUI can cost, and how to avoid them.

The Standard DUI

Even though every DUI is different, there are some general costs that come along with any DUI arrest, trial, and conviction:

  • Booking and Bail: Yes, it can cost money to just get arrested. You could miss time at work, or need to post bail in order to get out of jail.
  • Car Impound: If there's no one to drive your car home from your DUI arrest, chances are it will be towed and impounded, meaning you'll have to pay to get it back.
  • Trial: Unfortunately, challenging your DUI may not come cheap -- there will be court filing fees, not to mention the time it takes from arraignment to pre-trial motions to the trial itself.
  • DUI Classes and Alcohol Treatment: If you're convicted or take a plea bargain, you may be required to attend -- and pay for --DUI or alcohol treatment courses.
  • Ignition Interlock Devices: You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car that requires you to blow into it to start and run your vehicle, and you will be paying for the privilege.
  • Insurance: Yep, your insurance rates will likely get hiked up following a DUI; how much depends on your insurance company.
  • Expungement: Generally, you're given one chance to wipe your criminal record clean, but it's not free.

DUI and Then Some

Those are just the standard costs that come with any misdemeanor DUI. But your case could cost you more if it is bumped up to a felony. Prior convictions, having kids in the car, an extremely high blood alcohol content, or an accident involving injury or death can mean more sever criminal charges and thus more cost. And if you are involved in an accident causing property damage or injury, criminal sanctions are just the start. You could also be sued in civil court for any damages caused by the accident.

Just because a DUI can be expensive doesn't mean you should avoid getting legal help. In fact, not talking to an attorney about your DUI could end up costing you more in the long run. If you've been charged with drunk driving, talk to an experienced DUI attorney immediately.

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