With many people looking for information on California DUI fines and penalties, there is plenty of information available online. However, it is often out of date, inaccurate or poorly explained.
In many areas of life, the consequences of poor information may not be too serious. When misinformed about California DUI fines, they can be much more serious.
For example, the lower the DUI fines people “think” they will have to pay, the less worthwhile it can seem to hire a DUI lawyer, or to find a good DUI lawyer.
This is most often the case when a person is charged with a first DUI offense in California and anticipates what they believe will be relatively manageable fines. In these instances many opt to “suck it up” and go it alone.
While not advisable – there are many things a DUI lawyer can do for you – it is somewhat understandable. Search for “California DUI fines” and most websites state that fines for a first DUI offense in California with no aggravating circumstances will be $390 to $1000.
For many, it makes little sense to spend more than this on a DUI lawyer.
However, if actual DUI fines prove to be much higher, not only are they hit hard financially, they do not have a DUI lawyer to challenge the charges and penalties.
Perhaps if first offense DUI fines in California were in fact at least three times this – say, $1,400 to $3,500 – many might think differently about depriving themselves of the benefit of a good lawyer.
The fact is, in real terms they are.
California DUI Fines are Tripled by Penalty Assessments
Many websites detailing California DUI fines are correct to state that fines for a first DUI offense are $390 to $1,000. However, most misinform by neglecting to explain that figures given are base DUI fine amounts.
Whether you are charged with a first or repeat DUI offense, the amount you will actually pay will be at least three times the applicable base fine. This is because of penalty assessments, surcharges and fees applied to base fines.
For example, the minimum possible fine for a first DUI offense in California is $390. This is for a “straightforward” DUI offense with no aggravating factors. However, State, County and Court penalty assessments, fees and surcharges will added to the base fine.
These additions are not “optional extras” – they will be added to the base fine in all cases – and will increase the minimum base fine of $390 to an amount payable of just under $1,400.
This is the very least that you can expect to pay – for a first California DUI offense with the minimum possible fine imposed.
DUI Fines Are Not the Only Cost
It is important to remember that in California as elsewhere, DUI fines are not the only cost of a DUI conviction.
You will be ordered to pay other costs including (but not limited to) a victim restitution ($100), blood testing fees (about $30 to $40), the cost of a DUI school and, in some counties in California, the cost of an ignition interlock device. You will also be required to purchase a certain type of insurance, pay for the reissue of your license, and so on.
There are also costs arising outside of the court system, such as the impact on employment prospects and vehicle insurance costs.
And finally, the above information on California DUI costs relates to the best possible outcome for a first DUI offense with no aggravating circumstances.
For an enhanced and/or repeat DUI the picture is of course much more serious. DUI fines and other costs increase substantially, and can have a long-term impact on financial well-being.
Repeat DUI offenders will be well aware – as a result of their first conviction – of the true cost of California DUI fines. If you are a first-time offender, you are well advised to consult a DUI attorney about how they can help you minimize the real cost of a DUI conviction in California – just one of many things a DUI lawyer can do for you.
An original article on California DUI fines, exclusive to this site
Copyright © 2010 Caroline Mackenzie