The Cost of a DUI in California

March 17, 2023 by Anastasiia Ponomarova in California  DUI  
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Nothing is More Costly Than Your Freedom

If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you might get arrested in California for DUI. Getting caught driving under the influence (DUI) can be very costly in California. A DUI here usually costs between $10,000 and $15,000 on average. It’s essential to have a criminal defense lawyer because they might be able to make your charges go away or be less severe.

The typical expenses for a first-time DUI offense with no added penalties may include:


In cases of misdemeanors with bail schedules under $5,000, law enforcement or correctional facilities can release offenders once they are sober via a citation. However, numerous localities view bail as a means to recoup some expenses linked with maintaining a detention center. Should you encounter a situation where the arresting agency participates in this scheme, you should prepare to contribute 10% of a $5,000 payment. To gain your freedom, it would cost $500. If you have committed multiple offenses, are facing various charges, are on probation, or have caused injury to someone else, the expenses can increase significantly.

Towing, Storage Fees

The towing and storage charges can bring in a considerable amount of income for several cities when their law enforcement officials impound a vehicle following the arrest of a driver for driving under the influence. It is typical to pay the detaining law enforcement agency a fee of roughly $50 for releasing your car, even if you retrieve it within 24 hours. After obtaining the release, you must compensate the towing company to cover the expenses of transporting and keeping your vehicle. The typical price is approximately $150. Expect to spend roughly $200 to retrieve your car.

Attorney Fees

There are abundant attorneys, just like the number of stars in the sky. In addition, legal fees appear to lack any discernible pattern. Relatively young attorneys may offer their services to represent a person charged with a first-time DUI for as little as $500 in fees. Conversely, lawyers with vast experience who specialize in defending DUI cases can effortlessly demand a payment of $7,500 for a DUI offense that is the first of its kind. The estimate for the typical amount is around $3,500. Remember that opting for a public defender may reduce your retainer fees, but public defenders are skilled lawyers who operate within a flawed legal system. They lack the time and the desire to allocate any time to be with you. Besides, they cannot act on your behalf in a DMV hearing. At the DMV, they usually impose charges significantly lower than those of DUI lawyers for representing you. If you require legal assistance at an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing after being apprehended for driving under the influence, contact a good DUI lawyer.

Court Fees

Regrettably, the addition of “Penalty Assessments” by the courts leads to a significant increase in costs due to the inclusion of additional fees. Surprisingly, for a first-offense DUI in California, the court only requires a fine of $390. On average, the court pays $1,500 as the cost.

Ignition Interlock Device

Whenever a driver is convicted of a first-offense DUI in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda, or Tulare County, they must have an IID device installed in their car by mandate. As per California Law, an Ignition Interlock Device must only be installed on a first-time DUI offense if the arrest occurs in one of the four pilot counties. The cost of installation amounts to approximately $100, while the typical monthly expense lies around $80 per month. On average, $500 is the total cost.

DUI School Fees

If someone is found guilty of a first-time DUI offense in California, the court mandates that they attend a “1st Offender’s AB-541 DUI School” and complete the program, which typically costs around $500. Bear in mind that if there are any aggravating facts, the judge has the authority to extend the duration of the DUI School, thereby increasing its costs.

Reinstatement Fee

You must pay a reinstatement fee if the DMV administratively suspends your driver’s license during an APS Hearing. It will require a payment of $125 from you.

If you are found guilty in court, the DMV will once again invalidate your driver’s license until you pay a fee of $55.00 to obtain a new one.

Insurance Costs

If you are found guilty of DUI or “wet reckless” or the DMV suspends your driver’s license due to an APS Hearing, you must buy and uphold SR-22 insurance on your vehicle for at least three years. The total cost over three years is approximately $4,500, with an average yearly expense of $1,500. Therefore, besides the typical insurance coverage you have at present, it will be mandatory for you to obtain this extra level of insurance labeled as “high-risk.”


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December 3, 2019
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How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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