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What is the average cost of a DUI arrest?

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If you have been arrested for DUI in the State of California, you have two separate battles to fight. Obviously, you will face criminal prosecution at a local Superior Court, but you also will have a separate administrative battle to fight with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

In addition to the worry, stress, and inconvenience of making court appearances or dealing with the DMV, an accused driver will also experience a seemingly unending series of financial costs that will strain even the healthiest of budgets.

Keep in mind that the average cost of calling a taxi is about $2.85 for a flag drop and about $2.70 per mile. If you take a round trip anywhere within 10 miles of your home, you’re looking at an average cost of about $60.00, and remember that multiple passengers ride for the price of one. That may seem expensive, but take a look below. The cost of taking a cab ride is miniscule compared to the cost of being arrested for DUI.

In Total, the average cost for being arrested for DUI in California is approximately $10,000 to $12,000.

In this article, we attempt to educate drivers as to the financial burden that comes with an arrest and ultimately a conviction for DUI. There are a multitude of factors that can cause these estimated costs to be dramatically higher, such as a traffic collision, a multiple offense, a high blood/alcohol concentration, or a probation violation.

Here we address the average cost of a 1st offense DUI with no sentencing enhancements:

  • Bail: For those misdemeanor cases with bail schedules up to $5,000, a police department or jail facility has the discretion to “cite release” a misdemeanor offender once they are sober. Many municipalities, however, see bail as a way to recover some of the costs associated with running a jail facility.   If the agency that arrested you is playing this game, you should expect to pay 10% of a $5,000. This equates to $500 to buy your freedom. The costs can be dramatically higher if yours is a multiple offense, if there are multiple charges, if you are on probation, or if you injured someone else.
  • Towing and Storage Fees: Many cities derive a healthy source of revenue when their police officers have a car towed after the driver is arrested for DUI. Even if you pick up your car the very next day, it is not uncommon to pay the arresting police agency a release fee of about $50. Once you have the release in your hands, then you get to pay the towing company a fee for towing and storing your car. The average cost is about $150. So plan on paying about $200 just to get your car back.
  • Attorney Costs: There literally are as many attorneys as there are stars in the sky. Also, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to legal fees. Some younger attorneys will charge fees as low as $500 to represent a 1st time DUI. At the opposite end of the spectrum, highly experienced attorneys who have a particular focus on DUI defense can easily command fees of $7,500 for a 1st offense DUI. Here we place the average at about $3,500. Remember, if you choose to be represented by a public defender, you may save money on retainer fees, but public defenders are great attorneys who work for a completely broken system. They don’t have the time or the inclination to spend any time with you. Also, they cannot represent you at a DMV hearing. If you need representation at an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing following an arrest for DUI, call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates. We routinely charge fees far less than DUI attorneys to represent you at the DMV.
  • Court Costs: Astonishingly, the DUI statute in California only calls for a fine of $390 for a 1st offense DUI. Unfortunately, the courts always tack of “Penalty Assessments” which means “extra stuff” that will drive the costs up dramatically. The average cost to the court is $1,500.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Currently, California Law only mandates the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on a 1st offense DUI if your arrest occurs in one of the four pilot counties. Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda and Tulare are mandated to order the installation of an IID device in the car of any driver convicted for 1st offense DUI in their county. The installation runs about $100 and the average monthly cost is about $80 per month. The average total cost is $500.
  • DUI School: Upon conviction of a 1st offense DUI, all courts in California are required to order the driver to attend and complete a 1st offender DUI program, known as a “1st Offender’s AB-541 DUI School.” The average cost is $500. Remember, if there are any facts in aggravation, the judge may order longer terms of DUI School, which of course, is more expensive.
  • Reinstatement Fees: If the DMV suspends your driver license administratively at an APS Hearing, there is a reinstatement fee to be paid. That will cost you $125.

If also convicted in court, the DMV will re-suspend your driver license until you pay an additional re-issuance fee of $55.00.

  • Insurance Costs: If you are convicted of DUI or “wet reckless” and/or if the DMV suspends your driver license following an APS Hearing, you will be required to purchase and maintain SR-22 Insurance on your car for a minimum of three years. So, in addition to the regular insurance policy you already carry, you will be forced to carry this additional layer of “high-risk” insurance. The average cost is $1,500 per year for a grand total of about $4,500 over a three-year period

$500.00 -Bail

$200.00 -Towing

$3,500.00 -Attorney Costs

$1,500.00 -Court Costs

$500.00 -Ignition Interlock Device

$500.00 -DUI School

$180.00 -Reinstatement Fees

$4,500.00 -Insurance Costs

Total:                        $11,380


So aside from the potentially disastrous consequences of driving while impaired, the exorbitant costs associated with even a simple DUI conviction make taking a cab pretty attractive. Do yourself a favor………… Protect yourself……….Protect the public………….Call the cab.

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