(KRON) — Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be a very dangerous choice, but how much will navigating a DUI charge cost you in California? A lot, says one police department.
From fines, to raised insurance rates, to court fees, choosing to drive under the influence can ring up quite the bill. Driving under the influence also carries the risk of injuring others, or even killing them. According to San Mateo Police Department, 1,159 people were killed by drunk driving-related crashes in 2020 alone–accounting for 30 percent of all traffic deaths in California.
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Officer Alison Gilmore of the SMPD shared information on some of the fees associated with a DUI in San Mateo. Please note that all of these costs are merely estimates, and could vary on a case-by-case basis.
Common costs associated with receiving a DUI
- Bail/Bond Costs: $100-$2500 (sometimes there is no bail cost for a first-time offense)
- Fines: $390-$1000 (this is based on a first-time offense, there will be more if an injury was caused by the DUI)
- Attorney Fees: $3,000-$15,000 (retesting alcohol costs could be $150-$350, a private investigator can cost upwards of $1000)
- Increased insurance premium costs: $3,000-$6,000 (over a three-year period, depending on insurer)
- Towing/Impound fees: $500-$1,000
- DMV fee: $125 (if the license is suspended as part of a DUI sentence, a reinstatement fee would be required)
- Victim Restitution Fund: $140 (all those convicted of DUIs must pay this even if no one is injured)
- Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device: $350-$500
- DUI school: $500-$800 (cost will depend on length of program)
- Lost earnings: Varies (lost wages while in jail, in court, or taking classes)
- Transportation costs if license is suspended: Varies (could include public transport costs, or Uber fares)
When adding the above together, the total estimate for the lower-end of these costs is approximately $8,105. SMPD states that a DUI can run up to $18,000 after all fees and associated costs are considered. Recently the Petaluma Police Department estimated that DUIs cost an average of $13,500 in fines and penalties.
Joseph McPeak, an attorney with Red Metric Law, says that a reputable attorney may charge anywhere around $3,500 for representation in a misdemeanor DUI case. However, that number can quickly increase, “if there are other aggravating issues like restitution needing to be paid,” McPeak told KRON4.
The other thing that isn’t necessarily calculated into the costs above is time. It takes time for the court to process a DUI case; according to McPeak even a simple case can take a couple of months. Time spent managing paperwork, finding attorneys, or even in court can add up quickly.
Some drivers found to be driving under the influence also have their licenses suspended for a period of time. In that case, the cost of Ubers or using public transportation can grow rapidly.
If a driver caused injuries while under the influence, it becomes a more serious problem, and not just for the pocketbook. “Any injury caused by a DUI driver can be charged as a felony,” McPeak told KRON4. Once charges go into this territory, punishments can include jail time.
In order to keep the roads safe, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office will be holding a DUI checkpoint on August 26 in Millbrae. The Sheriff’s Office will also have additional officers on patrol over Labor Day weekend.