How Much Does a DUI Cost?
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, one of your first questions might be, “How much does a DUI cost?” That’s an important question, as a DUI can be extremely costly on a number of fronts. First, though, let’s look at what constitutes a DUI in California.
.08 Isn’t the Whole Story
Most people assume that driving under the influence means that a driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above. That might be true for most drivers and most vehicles, but there are exceptions. For example, if driving is part of your job, then .04 is the BAC limit. Let’s say that Dennis drives a long-haul 18-wheeler. Maybe he’s done driving for the night and goes out to an Oakland bar for a few drinks. He gets a buzz on and then heads back to his sleeper cab to get some rest. Dennis dozes off, but is awakened by a call from his boss a couple of hours later. His boss tells Dennis to hit the road. Dennis is pulled over in Alameda County and blows a .05, so he’s charged with driving under the influence.
But big rig drivers aren’t the only commercial drivers who are subject to the lower BAC requirement. So are Alameda County delivery truck drivers, taxicab drivers, and those who have gigs or side hustles as Dublin Lyft and Uber drivers. For those under the age of 21, a BAC of just .01 constitutes driving under the influence.
Cars Aren’t the Whole Story
While most Alameda County DUI arrests occur while people are driving cars, trucks, and motorcycles, there are laws prohibiting driving under the influence while on waterways. For example, you can be arrested for driving under the influence if you have a BAC of .08 and are piloting a boat or aquaplane, or even riding on water skis. That limit drops to .04 if you’re navigating a charter boat or a commercial vessel. You can also be cited for riding a bicycle under the influence, or for operating an off-road vehicle like a golf cart, snowmobile, ATV, or dirt bike under the influence.
Alcohol isn’t the Whole Story
While most people associate driving under the influence with imbibing alcohol, the truth is that you can be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, illicit drugs, or prescription drugs – or a combination of drugs and alcohol. As long as your ability to drive is impaired, you are at risk for an Alameda County DUI arrest.
Driving under the influence charges have a variety of permutations. That’s why, if you’ve been charged with a DUI, you need an experienced Dublin DUI lawyer to defend you. While you may think that it’s cost prohibitive to hire an Alameda County DUI attorney, it’s time to think again. When you consider the costs associated with even a misdemeanor DUI conviction, it becomes clear that a seasoned attorney saves you money over the long term.
The Costs Associated with a Misdemeanor DUI
Driving under the influence can cost a bundle in Alameda County, and there are both tangible and intangible costs. The direct out-of-pocket costs of a misdemeanor DUI in Alameda County are far-ranging, and can include:
DMV Costs: When you are charged with driving under the influence in Dublin or elsewhere in the Bay Area, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license. In order to have your driver’s license reissued, you must show the DMV proof of insurance and pay $125.
Alternative Transportation Costs: Even for a first misdemeanor offense, your driver’s license will be suspended for between six and ten months. For a second conviction, your license is suspended for two years, and it will be a year before you’re eligible to get a restricted license. A third conviction carries a three-year license suspension, while a fourth misdemeanor conviction within ten years results in a four-year license revocation.
Even in the best case scenario – one where you don’t lose your job and your freedom – you aren’t getting behind the wheel anytime soon. That can create a considerable expense for alternative transportation. While Lyft and Uber are more reasonable than taxicabs, paying someone to drive you to and from work, to and from the grocery store, and even to and from your kids’ soccer games quickly adds up. A $10 Lyft ride to work becomes a $20 round trip. An average month consists of 22 weekdays, which adds up to $440 per month just for work transportation. Even if you have friends and relatives who can give you rides, at some point their generosity may fade.
Fines: Whether you’re facing your first, second, third, or fourth misdemeanor DUI conviction within ten years, the fine you pay is between $390 and $1,000. If your DUI is in conjunction with a conviction for another crime and it’s your second offense within ten years, then the maximum penalty increases to $5,000.
Penalty Assessments: While the fine for a misdemeanor DUI may seem relatively inconsequential, the fine is just the tip of the iceberg. The Alameda County court also assesses penalties, which are essentially taxes. There’s an alcohol and drug assessment program fee, an alcohol abuse education fee, a lab penalty, an Alameda County court operations fee, booking fees, and more. By the time the bill is tallied, you can be on the hook for another $2,000.
Ignition Interlock Device: Along with a misdemeanor DUI conviction the DMV can require you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to four years. An IID is a breathalyzer that prevents you from starting your car if you’ve been drinking, and that asks you for breath samples from time to time while you’re driving. In addition to IID installation costs of about $150, you’re required to pay a monthly fee, which can run from about $70 to $100 per month. You also need to take your vehicle in for testing and calibration every 60 days.
Vehicle Impound: If you own the car you were driving when you were arrested, then the court can impound your vehicle for up to 30 days in Alameda County. If it’s your third conviction within five years, your vehicle can be impounded for up to 90 days. That typically costs $150 for the initial two, $150 for the release fee, and $55 per day for storage.
Jail Sentence: If you are convicted and receive a sentence with no probation, then you are going to spend time in an Alameda County jail. For a first misdemeanor offense, you’re looking at a minimum of 96 hours and a maximum of six months. For a second offense, the sentence ranges from 90 days to 12 months. A third DUI offense within ten years comes with a sentence of between 120 days and 12 months. A fourth conviction carries a jail sentence of between 6 and 12 months or a prison sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years.
Even if you receive a sentence with probation, a misdemeanor DUI conviction might mean that you spend time in jail. For example, for a second DUI offense within ten years, you might get 96 hours in jail or you might get 10 days to 12 months. For a fourth offense with probation, you still may have to serve between six and 12 months in jail.
The prospect of losing your freedom is terrible. While you don’t literally pay to be incarcerated, you do pay a steep price in terms of lost wages and lost financial opportunities. Spending time in jail also impacts your earning potential once you are released. It is decidedly more difficult to get a job if you have a conviction on your record. If your occupation involves driving a vehicle – like a truck driver or bus driver – then that door might be closed altogether.
Alternative Sentencing: If you don’t serve jail time, you may receive an alternative sentence for an Alameda County DUI conviction. Alternative sentencing can consist of cleaning up the highways in Alameda County, performing community service, being held under house arrest or wearing an electronic monitor, or being ordered to live in a halfway house. The financial costs of these alternative sentences vary, ranging from not having the opportunity to earn money during times when you’re unavailable to work, to the out-of-pocket costs associated with taking up residence at a sober living house.
Alcohol and Drug Programs: If you receive probation in lieu of jail time, then you’re likely on track to complete a mandated alcohol or drug program. The length of the program is determined by how many misdemeanor convictions you have. For a first offense, the program lasts 3 or 9 months, while for a second or subsequent conviction, the program lasts between 18 and 30 months. The cost of a three-month program ranges from $400 to $600, while an 18-month program costs about $2,000.
Car Insurance: Following a misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence, your car insurance – if you can get it – can increase by about 180 percent. This means that, if you were paying $1,800 per year for insurance, your rate will probably go up to more than $5,000 per year.
The Costs Associated with a Felony DUI
Even if it’s your first offense, you can be charged with a felony DUI if someone was injured. If it’s your fifth or subsequent offense within ten years, then you are charged with a felony. That felony DUI can carry a prison sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years.
Felony DUIs have similar costs to those outlined for misdemeanor DUI convictions. In addition, though, if you are convicted of a DUI where another person is injured, you are also on the hook for paying restitution to that person.
The Role of an Alameda County DUI Attorney
If you’re asking yourself, “How much does a DUI cost?”, you may be thinking about the cost associated with a Dublin DUI attorney. Another way to frame that question is to consider the cost of an Alameda County DUI conviction versus the cost of an Alameda County DUI attorney. If your lawyer is successful in having the DUI charges against you reduced or dropped, then their fee pales in comparison to the costs associated with a DUI conviction.
Your Dublin DUI lawyer is well-positioned to challenge the prosecution’s case against you. For example, your attorney may successfully argue that you crossed into another lane because you were distracted by your cell phone. While there are costs associated with distracted driving, the consequences pale in comparison to those associated with a DUI conviction. Alternately, if the arresting officer documents that your eyes were red or that you walked unsteadily, your Dublin DUI attorney can argue that you were extremely tired and had a cold.
Your attorney can also go to the heart of the case and challenge the validity of your field sobriety test by arguing that other factors may have influenced your performance. Similarly, they can question a high breathalyzer reading by arguing that you used mouth spray or that you burped, causing alcohol in your mouth to mix with alcohol in your lungs to produce a false high reading.
When your Alameda County DUI attorney is able to cast doubt on the evidence against you, it can lead the prosecutor to drop the charges altogether or propose a plea agreement. If the prosecutor won’t dismiss the charges outright, you may be in the position to plead to the lesser charge of reckless driving, also known as a “wet reckless.” The costs associated with a wet reckless don’t come close to the costs of a DUI conviction. For example, there isn’t a mandatory license suspension for a wet reckless, and the charges aren’t compounded by previous wet reckless convictions. Furthermore, the fines associated with a wet reckless are less than those associated with a DUI.
How much does a DUI cost? Without the representation of a knowledgeable Alameda County DUI lawyer, it can cost dearly. With a seasoned DUI attorney at your side, your costs – both financial and reputational – will be substantially reduced.