Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs can have serious consequences, including financial costs. California DUI charges can be expensive, and many people are not aware of all the potential costs associated with a DUI charge until it is too late. From fines to court costs to lawyer fees, numerous factors contribute to the financial burden of being charged with a DUI. The best place to start when defending against DUI allegations is by speaking with a DUI attorney. We at Koenig Law Office have the expertise to help defend you if you are facing DUI charges in Bakersfield.
Understanding California DUI
According to California law, drivers who have a blood-alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or higher are not allowed to operate a vehicle. However, not every motorist is subject to the same laws. A commercial driver is not permitted to drive if his/her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.04% or above. Motorists under 21 years old are not allowed to operate a vehicle while their BAC is above 0.01%. Aside from demonstrating prohibited BAC levels in a DUI case, the prosecutor also has to prove that the accused was operating the automobile.
The first step in making a DUI arrest is usually at traffic stops or sobriety checkpoints. The law enforcement officer who pulls over the accused will look for any indications of impairment. If the signs are present, the officer will ask the defendant to step out of the vehicle. The law enforcement officers will subsequently ask the defendant to participate in physical exercise-based field sobriety tests. The accused will be asked to blow into a Breathalyzer a few times. If the alleged defendant passes the Breathalyzer tests, law enforcement will let him or her go.
If the accused doesn't pass the tests, the officer would make the arrest. Per the law, the officer making the arrest should take the accused to the nearest police station or medical facility, where he or she will provide a breath or blood sample for testing or evaluation. Keep in mind that it's prudent to submit to chemical testing, as refusing to do so could result in a license suspension of up to 364 days.
Results from the blood samples could take several days to come in. However, breath test results are usually available on the same day. Once the accused has been arrested and booked for a misdemeanor DUI, he or she would be released. However, the accused will be issued a citation. The document usually indicates the defendant's new court hearing date. The situation changes if the defendant is charged with a felony DUI. The accused person won't be discharged unless he or she posts bail. If the defendant is from California, his or her driver's license would be confiscated and turned over to the DMV.
Determining whether a charge is a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the facts of the case and any prior DUIs. DUIs that do not involve aggravating factors such as fatalities or serious injury are misdemeanors. The charge is elevated to a felony crime when there are aggravating factors such as death. It is vital to consult a DUI attorney, regardless of the type of allegation you're facing, so that he or she can prepare a solid defense that could result in the charges being reduced or withdrawn altogether.
Common DUI Costs
California DUI offenses carry severe financial repercussions. The reason for this is that the consequences of drunk driving would be felt for many years and come at a high cost. Few individuals are aware of such additional costs associated with being found guilty of drunk driving. Nobody would want to drive under the influence if they'd been informed about the financial consequences.
First and foremost, it's important to note that not all drunk driving offenses are charged equally. The costs will depend on where your case is being heard and which judge will be handling the case.
There are numerous costs associated with the entire procedure, which include the following:
- Administration costs
- Court fines
- Victims' injuries
- Vehicle impoundment expenses
- Costs of DUI programs
The following costs apply to simple DUIs where no individual dies:
- $170 for booking and fingerprinting
- You'll be required to pay a hefty fine not below $390 or exceeding $1,000. This fine applies to first, second, and third-time DUI offenses. Additional penalty assessment fees could be added after the fines, bringing the total cost to $1750
- Bail costs amount to $2500
- Vehicle impound and towing fee summing up to $350
- A payment of $575 is required to enroll in DUI program for 36 months
- Restitution of $140 to the alleged victim
- DMV licensing costs $125
- Within 10 years, the cost of insurance will rise by $10,000
Understanding DUI Costs
The following section gives a more detailed analysis of DUI costs:
These are often ordered by the court after a DUI conviction. If the defendant is a first-time offender, the maximum fine is $1,245. On the other hand, the legal costs would be reduced if the defendant was not convicted.
Increased Insurance Rates
If the accused has been convicted of driving under the influence, his or her insurance company will likely raise their coverage rates. The SR-22 insurance paperwork should be purchased and kept on file with the California DMV for 36 months. Note that since it's a high-risk insurance plan, the cost of coverage is likely to increase. The accused may pay $1,500 annually for three years. These insurance premiums make drunk driving convictions more costly for offenders.
If you are facing DUI charges, hiring an attorney is essential to reduce the likelihood of a conviction. Your odds of winning the lawsuit will also depend on the attorney's track record and reputation. You should be prepared to spend a minimum of $3,000 to hire a seasoned lawyer to represent you.
Most expensive lawyers can charge $5,000 for the services they offer. If raising the required sum proves difficult, you can inform the court that you can't afford one and they will assign a public defender who will represent you. A public defender's cost is far less expensive than that of a private defender.
The downside of working with government-provided attorneys is that they're often representing multiple clients at once, leaving them with little time to devote to your situation and the level of care it deserves. On the other hand, a private attorney would cost more, but he or she will devote all of their energy and time to making sure that you receive a favorable result.
An accused person would be able to post a specific amount as bail to guarantee their release depending on the specifics of the case. You could be required to post bail for as little as $150 for misdemeanor DUI charges. The bail could increase to $2,500 if it's a felony DUI.
Drug or Alcohol Addiction Program/DUI School
The court could order that you undergo a DUI class or a drug or alcohol awareness program as part of your punishment. The duration of the programs could vary from 3 months to 9 months. You could end up paying an average of five hundred and seventy-five dollars in fees for these services.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
Additionally, as a part of the DUI penalties, the magistrate hearing the case could order that the accused have an IID installed in his or her car. If the sensor detects drugs or alcohol on your breath, it stops the ignition of the vehicle. Installing the device and maintaining it regularly could cost the accused person a lot of money. IIDs normally sell for $120.
If your driver's license has been suspended as a result of a DMV hearing, you'll have to shell out license reinstatement fees. It usually costs at least $125 and as much as $260 to have your driving license reinstated or reissued.
Vehicle Towing and Impounding Fees
When an accused person gets pulled over and detained for driving while under the influence, the law enforcement officer would have the vehicle towed to an impound facility. When the accused returns to pick up the vehicle, he or she will be charged an impounding and towing fee. These will set you back around $350 on average.
DUI Costs for a First-Time Offender
A defendant will also have to pay the following additional fees:
First-time DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors, which means you could be sentenced to up to 180 days and no less than 2 days behind bars. Second DUI offenses are punishable by at least 3 days and a maximum of 364 days behind bars, while a third DUI is punishable by a maximum of twelve months in jail or a maximum of 16 months in prison. The court could impose a probation sentence instead of a jail term for a first-time DUI. It is important to note that if you're sentenced to serve time behind bars, you'll be unable to work, meaning you will lose your income during the duration of your incarceration.
Regarding license suspensions, the court will suspend a first-time offender's license for a maximum of six months. On the contrary, the DMV will issue an administrative suspension of 120 days. The DMV will extend the license suspension to a period of 364 days if the driver refuses to submit to the breathalyzer test. You will have the chance to apply for your restricted license one month following the original license suspension.
If you are convicted of DUI again, the judge will have your driver's license suspended for 24 months. However, if your BAC was at 0.08% or more, the Department of Motor Vehicles will issue an additional administrative suspension of 12 months. You can seek a restricted driver's license three months following the first suspension. Be aware that the suspension could last anywhere between three and twelve months if it was a drug-related DUI.
Third-time offenders are liable to a three-year suspension and, in cases where the offender's blood alcohol content is 0.08% or more, an administrative suspension of one year is imposed by the DMV. Additionally, if you receive a license suspension for another DUI, you will need to wait 180 days before applying for your restricted driver's license.
Keep in mind that when you have more than one suspension, you could overlap them so that you serve the longest penalty first to avoid having to deal with them all independently. Additionally, during the period during which your permit has been suspended, and before a limited license is granted, you'll be required to pay for a cab each day. If the license is suspended for six months, you will have to pay costly bus fares to get to work.
You'll be put on informal probation for three years if this is your first DUI. The probation is subject to certain conditions, such as:
- Finishing a DUI program for three months with 30-hour sessions
- If you have been arrested for DUI and your BAC was 0.20% or higher, you will have to complete a program for 9 months and sixty hours of sessions
The maximum probationary period for the second DUI offense is three years, while parole can occasionally last up to five years. The successful completion of a thirty- or eighteen-month DUI program serves as a requirement for this probation. Third-time DUI offenders are placed on probation for a period of 3 to 5 years, along with a 30-month DUI school session.
Another expense that can arise from a DUI is having an Ignition Interlock Device installed in your car. After that, you have to cover a monthly charge of between $60 and $80. Installing the IID for no longer than 6 months can cost a first-time offender a maximum of $480 per month, including the initial charge of $120 for buying the device.
Second-time offenders with a 12-month license suspension will be responsible for the cost of the IID purchase in addition to $960 in installation and maintenance fees. Third-time DUI offenders must install the device for 2 years, thus their total costs after 24 months could amount to $1,920.
Once you consider the price of the IID installation, it becomes obvious why having a DUI could be costly. As a result, it is recommended that you refrain from driving after taking alcohol or using drugs. Paying for a taxi to take you home is less expensive than continuing to drive while intoxicated, which could later be quite expensive following your DUI arrest.
Keep in mind that none of the DUIs covered above involved fatalities or injuries. You will suffer more severe repercussions if your DUI resulted in someone being killed or suffering serious physical harm. You will be responsible for paying the victim's medical bills in addition to court fines, attorney fees, and IID installation.
If the victim passes away, you'll be responsible for their funeral and burial costs in addition to any other related expenses. No matter how much money you have to spend, getting a DUI could get you into a lot of trouble. But if you hire a top-notch DUI defense lawyer, you can avoid all these costs and get your charges reduced.
Elements the Prosecutor Must Prove in a DUI Case
Once a file is handed to the prosecution by the responding officer, the prosecution initiates its investigation. The police statement gives the district attorney (DA) the proof they require to secure a conviction. Despite the proof, the prosecutor needs to demonstrate your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to the judge and jury. The following are the requirements that the prosecutor must satisfy:
If the prosecutor wants to succeed in getting a conviction, they must show the judge and jury that you had been driving a vehicle.
An officer may make an arrest based on his or her observation of you driving. In other cases, the arresting officer might not see you operating a vehicle; this happens often in car accidents involving intoxicated drivers. It is the prosecution's duty, in this case, to show that you were behind the wheel of a vehicle. They could interview potential witnesses to get information that would assist them in proving their case.
The prosecutor relies extensively on circumstantial proof in situations where there were no eyewitnesses present. In this case, they could use the fact that you are seated behind the wheel as evidence that you were driving the vehicle. In addition, they can claim that you had been driving if you had the key in the ignition.
It is important to keep in mind that you weren't driving the vehicle if it did not move even an inch. To prove that the accused was operating a car, the court will need evidence showing that the vehicle moved.
Level of Blood Alcohol Content
For a conviction, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had been operating a motor vehicle while impaired or that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.08% or more. The test findings documented in the police statement will be used as evidence to establish that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above the permissible limit. If the prosecutor can prove that you were under the arresting officer's observation for at least 15 minutes before the tests were administered, the evidence will hold up in court.
To demonstrate that the tests were carried out per the regulations, the prosecution will require testimony from experts to describe how the findings were obtained following a traffic stop. If they can demonstrate that the law was followed when administering the tests, the findings of the tests will be utilized as evidence, leading to a conviction.
If you refused the chemical testing, prosecutors would just need to show that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The findings of a field sobriety test could help show the court that you had been drunk driving.
An officer needs to have probable cause before stopping a driver. You could be pulled over for several reasons, such as broken tail lights. Additionally, an officer could have grounds to suspect you are inebriated if they saw you swerving across lanes.
The officer has to see indications of intoxication, including an odor of alcohol or bloodshot eyes, before administering field sobriety tests. The officer may ask you to exit the vehicle for FSTs when any indicators are present.
Possible Legal Defenses Against DUI Charges
To mount a successful DUI defense, you'll need a defense attorney who is both knowledgeable and skilled enough to analyze the evidence the prosecution presents and find any gaps in it. The following are some possible DUI defenses:
Inaccurate Field Sobriety Tests
FSTs have the potential to impair your sense of balance and motor skills, as an experienced attorney will show in court. Therefore, you could claim that you were feeling tired or that you were suffering from a nerve issue when the tests were administered. As a result, there were other reasons why you failed the FSTs rather than being intoxicated.
You Weren't Operating a Vehicle
You could be able to prove that you hadn't been driving or otherwise physically controlling the vehicle when you were pulled over for DUI if you were merely dozing off inside your car with your engine off.
The Officer Did Not Watch You For 15 Minutes
The officer has to spend fifteen minutes observing you before administering the tests as required by law. This is done to prevent you from drinking alcohol or engaging in any other activities that could raise your BAC levels at that time. If the law enforcement officer didn't watch you, you could challenge the test findings and make the court and jury doubt them. If the results of the tests are deemed unreliable, the case will be dismissed.
Find a Bakersfield DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
Aside from the repercussions of a DUI charge, the DUI costs related to your charges can be more severe. That's why we at Koenig Law Office recommend that you seek the help of a professional DUI defense attorney. If you're seeking a Bakersfield DUI attorney with expertise defending individuals facing DUI allegations, please call us at 661-793-7222.