Paying the fines and court costs for a DUI conviction in Sonoma County could leave you struggling to make ends meet.
And that doesn’t include the other expenses that you could face along the way for legal fees, spikes in your insurance premiums, lost work time, the installation and rigorous maintenance cost of an interlock ignition device, and more.
Let’s look at a potential first time DUI when there is no accident or personal injury involved—as the basis for estimating your expenses.
These figures are only approximations. The true costs will depend on many factors, and vary from County to County, but these factors are determinants:
- Whether this is your first DUI, or whether you’re a repeat offender;
- Whether you violated other laws in the process (e.g. driving under age, hit and run, DUI with injury, evading the police or running a stop sign);
- The quality of your legal defense;
- Whether your insurance company approaches your situation punitively and hikes your premium rates significantly or allows you some leeway;
Fines and court costs ($2,480.00)
For a first-time DUI offender in Sonoma County, the minimum penalty a court can impose is a fine of $390, as well as additional add-ons, assessments, levies, court costs, restitution fees and the like. You will be looking at costs that can easily exceed $2,500 especially if you must pay towing and storage fees for your car.
This figure also does not include attorney fees. Some attorneys charge more than $5,000 for a first time DUI. The maximum penalties and costs for a first time California DUI are substantial.
DUI Driving School ($600)
When the court finds you guilty of your first DUI offense in California, you’ll be required to attend a DUI driving school whose expense can vary depending upon how high the blood alcohol concentration was at the time of the driving.
The length and price of the driving school also depends upon several other factors one being if this was your first, second or third offense. Judges may require repeat offenders to attend up to 90 hours of DUI school.
The state licenses AB 541 first offender programs, and it issues guidelines for their curriculum, but each program can approach DUI issues with some latitude. For instance, they can charge whatever tuition they feel is appropriate.
The average cost of such programs is about $600 or more; they generally range from $300 to $1,800. These numbers are subject to change and variation, but you are always welcomed to come in for a free no obligation consultation
Ignition interlock device ($310–$1,500)
As of January 1, 2019, California law will require all first time DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicles for six months. The cost of installing an IID varies from $310 to $1,500, and has gotten very expensive, while the devices can run anywhere from $60 to $80 a month for regular maintenance.
Legal expenses can vary greatly—Some lawyers charge from $3,500 to over $10,000 for a first or second DUI
Hiring a lawyer to defend you in a DUI case is usually a good idea, especially if you’re going to contest the charges. But there’s no easy way to put a figure on what legal representation is going to cost you. Legal fees will vary tremendously based on factors such as:
- Whether it is your first offense;
- Whether your DUI case requires the calling of expert witnesses;
- Whether your case is exceptionally complex (e.g. Did your DUI result in someone’s death or serious bodily injury);
- Your attorney’s qualifications and experience.
Getting your license back ($125)
Law enforcement will confiscate your driver’s license at the time of your DUI arrest. To get it back—after the expiration of any suspension or revocation period—you’ll have to pay the California DMV $125.
Before you can drive after a DUI conviction, you’ll also need to have your insurance company file an SR-22 form with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
An SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility—a document that tells the DMV that you have at least the minimum automobile insurance required to drive a car in California. An SR-22 also alerts the insurance carrier that you were convicted of a DUI and you most likely see a substantial jump in your insurance premiums.
The insurer will charge you a fee for filing the SR-22; the average cost is around $25. But we employ an outside private agency that can do it for you for free and they will also find a suitable insurance carrier with much lower premiums—thus saving you a lot of money!
Impoundment charges (two days) ($665)
Police officers have the discretion to order your car impounded subsequent to your DUI arrest. They may allow a non-inebriated passenger in your vehicle to drive it back to your home or they may allow you to call another licensed driver if they can get to the site within 10 or 15 minutes.
In some cases if you have been very polite and cooperative, the officer may drive your car to the side of the road or onto a parking lot for pick-up at a later time.
But if your car is impounded by the police who call a private tow company you will pay the towing fees for them to transport it to an impoundment lot, a daily storage charge, a City of Santa Rosa release fee (adding insult to injury) taxes and even interest!
For this example, let’s assume you have been arrested for DUI on a Saturday evening, and you can’t rescue your car until Monday.
- Towing charges ($239 for the first hour plus $120 for $359 each fraction of an hour)
- Mileage rate ($7 per mile times 15) $105
- Storage charge standard vehicle: $39 per day times two $78
- City of Santa Rosa release fee $115
But as a rule, impoundment fees can add anywhere from $250.00 to $350.00 a day to your overall bill for a DUI.
Increased insurance costs ($843)
According to the Value Penguin website, the average cost of auto insurance in California is $1,962 per year. (Of course, this number varies greatly depending on your age, the type of car you drive, your previous driving record, where you reside, how many miles you drive, etc.)
Value Penguin also estimates that the multiplier used to determine the amount of a rate increase in California after a DUI is 1.43. That would make your new annual premium about $2,805—an increase of about $843.
But we have seen insurance rates climb by over $1,000 a year for three years which would add another $3,000 over the course of the insurance bump up. You are viewed by the insurance industry as a higher liability risk.
Time missed from work ($320)
It’s hard to gauge how much time you’d have to miss from work due to your DUI arrest and conviction. But let’s take a conservative approach and suppose that it’s two days—16 hours to deal with everything from the aftermath of your arrest and court hearing to picking up your car at the impound lot and heading to the DMV to get your license back.
That’s 16 hours, assuming you work a regular eight-hour day. We’ll also assume you make about $20 an hour (an annual wage of $41,600.) That’s $320 in lost wages. Again, this is an extremely conservative number.
The figure is probably a lot higher when you think about how much time you may have lost when you couldn’t bail out of jail right away, thus losing additional time from work.
Also, you need to search for an attorney and take time off to hire and retain one. The stress of a DUI looming over you can cause an increase in sick days and lost time from the job. Finally, attending your first Offender DUI classroom sessions may cause you to lose additional time from the office.
Some DUI defendants are even fired from their jobs when it is learned that they are even facing a DUI conviction since the employer may view this as a greater liability risk.
Even a first time DUI defendant can pay a $10,000 bail or $1,000 out of pocket in fees. This can be even more substantial if there is a high blood alcohol concentration, an accident or the defendant is a multiple DUI offender. The bail could easily be $30,000 or higher.
Cost of alternative transportation ($165-$300)
When you’re arrested for a DUI, you’ll lose your license for at least 30 days. How will you get to work during that time? If you take mass transit (bus or train), it will cost you. Uber may be a little bit less expense than a taxi ride.
But you’ll also need to go grocery shopping, doctor appointments and run other errands during that time. Let’s say you take an Uber twice a week to handle those trips, and that a five-mile trip to your preferred shopping area takes 10 minutes.
The basic Uber service will cost you 15¢ per minute ($1.50) plus 9¢ per mile ($.45) plus a $2.10 service fee. The grand total for a one-way trip would be $4.05, and a round trip cost $8.10.
Multiply $8.10 x 2 (twice a week) x 4 weeks for your license suspension, and your Uber costs would run about $65. (And that doesn’t even count money spent to get to doctor, dental and other appointments, for visiting family and friends, etc.
The grand total
If you add up all these expenses and then some—and they are just the bare minimum—you’re likely to be out of pocket at least $10,000 just for a first DUI. Add in any other complicating factors—time in jail (and lost wages); property damage or injury you’ll have to pay for, etc.–and your total bill could climb much higher.
That also doesn’t consider the intangible costs of a DUI, including the threat to your job and the embarrassment of having to face family and friends.
So, the next time you think you’re okay to drive—but really aren’t sure—compare the cost of a cab or an Uber to everything you could lose if you are picked up for a DUI. It makes alternative transportation seem like a real bargain.
Contact Fiumara & Milligan Law today at 707-571-8600 if you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a DUI in Sonoma County.
We will fight to get your charges REDUCED OR DISMISSED altogether! WE will fight to get you back on the road again driving as soon as possible— “The Right Attorney Makes all the Difference.”
Please CLICK HERE to read more about DUI in Sonoma County and how Fiumara and Milligan Law can help!