DUIs in California Are More Costly Than You Think


Whether you get a DUI in California for the first time or you’ve had one before, making this mistake is especially costly. Some of the reasons the costs get so high include the following:

  • Attorney’s fees
  • Conviction fines
  • SR22 proof of insurance coverage
  • Surcharges
  • Insurance surcharges
  • The attainment of a ignition interlock device

The above list of expenses can cost you as much as $20,000 or more. While some people think ride-sharing apps are costly after a night on the town, it still is much cheaper than having to hire a lawyer and paying all the fines associated with a DUI conviction and a day in court.

What you pay for DUI penalties and costs depends on prior convictions and whether or not an injury occurred. Most people driving under the influence will receive a misdemeanor conviction. However, you will get charged with a felony if an injury is involved. You can get charged for a felony if you’ve had four or more prior DUI arrests and convictions (or you have a prior feloni DUI).

Under California DUI legislation for 2021, a conviction will count as a prior conviction for 10 years from the date of the offense. After that time, the DUI charge is not deemed a prior conviction for any subsequent offense. However, by that time, it’s hoped you won’t have any more arrests, especially when you weigh how the conviction can affect you socially and financially.

Paying Attorney Costs and Fees: It Can Really Add Up

You will still pay a lot of money if you reduce or eliminate a DUI charge, or it is dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. For example, if you fight to avoid a suspension of your DMV license, you still have to pay an attorney for his or her help. You’re not going to have much luck if you try to go it alone.

Below are some of the possible figures

  1. A first DUI offense can cost $390 to $1,000 in fines with a license suspension up to six months. You may also have to spend up to six months in jail – a further cost if you’re employed.
  2. A second or third DUI can earn up to one year in jail and up to three years of license suspension. Fines can range from $390 to 1,000.
  3. Jail time for a fourth DUI can last up to 3 years if it is ruled a felony. Fines assessed can cost as much as $1,000 with a license suspension of as much as four years.
  4. If you are charged with a DUI and hurt someone, you can receive fines as much as $5,000. Plus, you’ll probably get sued for injuring another party. Your legal costs can run quite high, as you face a suspension of your license, as well, for up to three years and one year’s jail time.
  5. If you receive a felony DUI charge, your license can get suspended as long as 5 years and you can spend up to 16 years in jail. Fines may range from $1,015 to $5,000.

Obviously, your legal charges can really skyrocket if you make this kind of mistake.

Not only can a DUI in California set you back financially with respect to penalties, jail time, fines, and legal costs, it can also affect you if you hold professional licenses, something which can severely impact your income.

In addition, your auto insurance costs take a leap, as they trigger SR22 mandates. The installation of a mandatory interlock device, as noted, will further increase expenses. If you are convicted of a DUI while attending college, it can affect your ability to receive financial aid.

As you can see, a DUI is far more costly than what you may now believe. Don’t take chances if you drink. Even if you have to opt for Lyft or Uber to take you home, it will save you from facing far more serious consequences personally and financially.

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