How much does a DUI cost in California?

While many focus on the possibility of jail time, there are numerous costs associated with DUI charges in California, which may quickly add up.

Flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror may quickly end a fun night, and begin a host of legal issues for people in California and elsewhere. Recognizing that driving under the influence may be punished harshly, the first thoughts for many who are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving turn to the possibility of jail time. There are numerous financial costs also associated with DUI charges, which may quickly add up.

Fines, court penalties and fees

Fines are a penalty handed down to most people who are convicted of DUI. For a first-time offense, drivers may be fined anywhere from $390 to $1,000. Additionally, they may also be subject to court penalties and fees. These may be up to three times the amount of their fines. In totally, people may be required to pay up to $5,000 in fines, penalties and fees.

Alcohol treatment programs


In addition to or in lieu of certain penalties, the court may order drivers to complete an alcohol treatment program. The costs of these classes are their responsibility, it is not included in their fines or covered by the state. Depending on the length of program they are required to participate in, it may cost up to $650 or more.

Driver's license suspension


Drivers who are found to have blood alcohol concentration levels of at least .08 percent when they are arrested are subject to a mandatory driver's license suspension. With few exceptions, people with no previous alcohol-related arrests lose their driving privileges for four months. While they are unable to drive, people may incur costs associated with other modes of transportation. Additionally, once their suspension period is up, drivers must pay a $45 administrative service fee and a $125 reissuance fee to have their licenses reinstated.

Ignition interlock devices

The installation of ignition interlock devices, or IIDs, on the vehicles owned and operated by people in Alameda, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Tulare counties who plead guilty to or are convicted of DUIs is mandatory. In some circumstances, motorists in other counties may also be required to use these devices, for which there are several associated expenses. People may be charged an installation fee of between $75 and $100, a daily service charge of up to $2.50, and other fees for maintenance or calibration. Drivers may be ordered to use ignition interlocks for a minimum of five months.

Vehicle towing and impoundment

Often, law enforcement confiscates people's driver's licenses when they place them under arrest for driving under the influence. Consequently, their vehicles may be towed and impounded. Although not necessarily their choice, drivers are responsible for the associated costs, and must typically settle their accounts in order to retrieve their vehicles. If their cars are impounded for five days, the costs of towing and impoundment could reach up to $685.

Obtaining legal representation

Long after they have served their time and paid their fines, people in California may continue to deal with the effects of drunk driving arrests. Working with an attorney, however, may help them establish a solid defense and limit their potential consequences. Thus, those who have been arrested for DUI may benefit from seeking legal counsel. A lawyer may look out for their interests and help ensure their rights are upheld throughout the process.