How are DUI fines calculated?

The total cost of a DUI, including the impact on a driver’s license, criminal record and possible jail time, should be understood by anyone facing a DUI. In terms of fines for the typical DUI case, in first offense DUI cases the driver can expect to pay $1800 to the county in which the DUI occured.

This includes the base fine, and additional fines such as “penalty assesments,” “court fees” and other charges as discussed below. The level of punishment a DUI driver faces depends on several factors.  How many DUI’s the driver has gotten, whether an accident occured, the blood alcohol level of the driver and which county the DUI occured in.  These are factors that influence the amount of fines the person is facing and they are discussed below.

How many DUI’s does the driver have?

For a first offense DUI defendant, the fine given is less than for someone facing a second or third DUI. Additionally, a person facing a 2nd or 3rd DUI is looking at mandatory jail time under California law. 2nd offese DUI drivers face a MINIMUM of 96 hours of jail in a county jail. For more serious cases, (like those involving an accident or injury to others) a driver faces up to 4 years in state prison if they are charged with felony DUI. For the typical 1st offense DUI, the fines imposed by the court can amount to a maximum of $1000. (This amount doesn’t include “penalty assesments,” “court fees,” “witness program” fees and “probation fees.”

Whether there was an accident.

If there was an accident, the driver will face additional costs such as “victim resitution” where the driver re-emburses the victim of an accident for their injuries and any damage to their car or other property. Restituion can be very expensive if the victim of an accident has severe injuries or extensive property damage.

How high was the driver’s blood alcohol level?

For cases involvng a high blood alcohol level (anything over 0.15% BAC) the driver can expect a prolonged alcohol education class. For a first offender DUI case, the court usually imposes a 3 month alcohol class. For high blood alcohol level cases, up to 1 year of alcohol education is often given.

What county did the DUI occur in?

A difficult thing for many DUI defendants to understand is DUI punishment varies by county, even for exactly the same offense. For example, Ventura county imposes jail in 1st offense DUI cases. No exception. If you are convicted of DUI in Ventura county, even a first offense DUI, you will go to jail. Another example of this is Riverside county. In Riverside county, jail is often imposed on 1st offender DUI cases. Unlike Ventura county, Riverside allows a person to “work off” their jail time in something called “Work Release,” where the defendant essentially does community service. Of course, there is a fee to enroll in “Work Release” programs (about $150). Los Angeles county tends to be more reasonable in the severity of punishment for DUI drivers. Unfortunatley, however, Los Angeles is a county (one of four in the state of California) that mandates the installation of an ignition interlock device (breathalizer)

What can a DUI attorney do to lower a DUI fines?

A DUI attorney can get the fines a DUI defendant faces lowered in a number of ways. Totally beating a DUI case will result in substantially savings ($0 on fines, fees, penalty assesments). Getting the charges lowered to Reckless Driving result in approximately a 1/2 reduction in fines assesed by counties. (A reckless driving conviction is preferable to a DUI conviction for other reasons: it avoids jail and greatly reduces the impact on a driver’s license priveleges.) So it pays to go with a DUI attorney who can win your case, or reduce the punishment yo are facing.

Posted in DUI Penalties.

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