How much does a DUI cost?


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How much does a DUI cost?

How much does a DUI cost?  It’s no secret that a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge can get very expensive.  For the State of California, it’s acknowledged as a major profit center. DUI is the number one crime in California, and the substantial fines go to the court system to fund it. Not only that, but the alcohol schools, insurance companies, and even federal grants pay substantial money to the State of CA. Most people already know that a DUI can be expensive.  But exactly how expensive can a DUI end up being?

The above public service announcement image estimates the total costs of a DUI to be $15,700.  Some of those costs are highly variable.

How can the $15,700 figure be as high as it is?  Let’s look closer at the numbers, and see what is realistic, and what may depend on the facts of the case.

Some of the numbers are highly variable.  A study done in Texas showed in that state that a first-time offender, with no accident involved, could range from $9000 to $24,000, which is a very wide range of fees, fines, and other costs indeed.

The total costs vary by state.  In New York, the estimated average cost was $9,500, and in Illinois, the average cost was surveyed to be $14,660.

OC DUI costs

An Orange County DUI, overall, has the following factors generally:

  • Court fines.  Every law has a minimum and a maximum, and fees and fines in a DUI can be substantial.
  • Towing and Impound Fees.
  • Alcohol School or Program Fees.
  • DMV Driver’s License Fees.
  • Bail.
  • Fees for a DUI Lawyer or DUI Specialist
  • Booking Fees (reimbursement for arrest costs).
  • Ignition Interlock Device (Only mandatory for DUI cases with a prior, or any first-time convictions in Alameda, Los Angeles, Tulare and Sacramento counties, as part of a pilot project).
  • Alternative Transportation, such as Uber or Lyft.

How much does a DUI cost for Court Fines and Fees?

The minimum fine for a DUI is $390.  The maximum is $1000.  However, the State of California has a tax, known as a “penalty assessment”, that makes the total about five times that amount.  For a fine of $390, plus fees, you will pay about $1922 minimum in Orange County.  The maximum would be over $5,000, although most first time offenders would get the minimum.  The court allows you to make payments on your fines and fees, or work off the amount via community service.

How much does a DUI cost in Towing and Impound fees?

These fees are not incurred in every case.  But if your car is impounded, you can expect to pay from $250 to $1000 to get your vehicle back.

How much does a DUI cost in alcohol school fees?

For Orange County Alcohol schools approved by the court and DMV, you can expect to pay as you go.  For a first time offender, the total amount is under $800.  For second or third time offenders, the total is much higher, usually over $1500.

How much does a DUI cost in DMV driver’s license reinstatement fees?

Those fees are $125 for DMV suspensions, and $55 for court imposed suspensions.  You cannot drive again until these are paid to the DMV.

How much does a DUI cost in bail?

In most Orange County DUI cases, there is no bail to be posted for a first time DUI.  However, if there is a DUI with child endangerment alleged, or a second-time offense, or a DUI with injury, bail could be set and ranges up to $30,000.  With bail, you or the defendant must pay at least 10% of the bond amount to a bail bonds company to be released, and the bail company pays the full amount, or you can pay the full amount yourself, and get it back at the end of the case.

The cost of an Orange County DUI Attorney: The cost of a DUI attorney varies widely.  Of course, as you might expect, the more experienced the lawyer, the higher the fees.  Attorneys that specialize in DUI defense in Orange County, or elsewhere, also would charge slightly more than a general practice attorney.

The seriousness of the case also matters.  Cases with priors, an accident, or any DUI sentencing enhancements, can cause the fee to rise, for the extra work in fighting for the client, as well as dealing with the civil side of things and dealing with insurance companies and victims. Fees range from $500 up to $10,000 for a DUI defense lawyer, although one attorney in the area charges $15,000 for a fee that includes trial (although cases do not always go to trial).

How much does a DUI cost for ignition interlock devices?

With Los Angeles DUI cases, defendants must get an ignition interlock installed to regain driving privileges. The device is wired to the vehicle’s ignition system, and you have to blow into the device before starting the car. That isn’t required in Orange County DUI cases, but for a second offender DUI, you have the option to install an IID in your car to drive again much sooner than if you don’t have one.

How much does a DUI cost – Car insurance rates

The AAA estimates that your car insurance rates could double after a DUI, and your rates are likely to remain high for at least a few years.

California leads to the biggest price jumps in California, where the average premium from the three companies more than doubled. (Credit for the chart below to NerdWallet).

How much does a DUI cost? (Insurance annual rates before and after a DUI)

25 $1,307 $4,001 $2,694
50 $1,066 $3,275 $2,209

Under California law, you are required to get SR22 insurance for a DUI.  Insurance companies can only increase your fees for a three year period from the conviction or the start of the SR22.  But using the above annual rate increases, you can suffer a total increase over three years of over $7,500.

How much does a DUI cost in other ways?

Lost wages: In a few serious cases, a DUI conviction means jail time, which means lost wages.

Transportation: If you have to take the bus, Uber, or Lyft, your costs will go up because of that.

How much does a DUI cost total?


Using the above estimates, you can potentially spend much more than $15,000.  But the realistic estimate above is a total of about $11,000 – still a huge sum, that could easily go higher.

Contact us.

Contact us

If you have questions about the total costs of a DUI, contact us.  We can help and can answer your questions on what steps you can take to lower your cost for a DUI.

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