The Real Cost of a DUI in California

By: Angelo Ilumba August 4, 2014
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Committing a DUI in California could cost you over $45,000 in insurance, fines, attorney, towing and storage, and license reinstatement costs.
Committing a DUI in California could cost you over $45,000.

Most of us are well aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. The exponentially increased risk of hurting yourself and others in an accident should be more than enough to deter everyone from driving under the influence (DUI). Still, just to make the case against drinking and driving even stronger we can take a look at the outrageous cost you will meet if you are convicted of a DUI. From having your car impounded when you get caught to license reinstatement fees after your driver’s license gets suspended, several factors go into the true cost of a DUI.

Car Insurance Increase

It’s not exactly a secret that car insurance premiums increase after a DUI, but many people might not realize that this increase is the highest DUI-related cost. This may be because people think of the increase in the short term, since insurance coverage is usually only bought months at a time. However, there is more to the short term when it comes to a DUI-related car insurance increase. To reinstate your driver's license after it has been suspended due to a DUI in California, you must file a proof of financial responsibility with the court known as a SR-22. After a DUI you will be required to file your SR-22 for at least 3 years. Your insurance company will take care of this for you, but it will come with a hefty increase in your premium. After you are no longer required to file a SR-22, your car insurance premium may lower a bit, but will likely remain well above standard car insurance rates. These several years of increased rates will quickly add up and when all is said and done you may end up paying up to approximately $40,000 in insurance rate increases over the years.

Towing and Storage

When a police officer catches you drinking and driving, you will be arrested, and your car will be impounded. The costs of towing and storage can reach about $685 and can even get higher the longer you keep your car in storage.

DUI Classes

After a DUI conviction, you will be required to enroll in and complete a DUI course. The length of time you will have to attend a course will depend on the severity of your DUI violation, but you can expect to pay at least $650 for the course.

Fines and Attorney Fees

If you are caught drinking and driving you will have to go to court.

A Note about Lawyers

It is rarely a good idea to go to court without legal representation. This is especially true for such a serious case as driving under the influence. Even if you know for certain that you are guilty, you should have an attorney who can help protect you from excessive penalties. There are several DUI attorneys who can help you with your case. If the court does find you guilty of a DUI you can expect to pay hefty fines. With these fines and the addition of attorney fees you are looking to pay around $4,000 after your court conviction.

Driver’s License Reinstatement

When you are caught driving over the legal limit your driver’s license will be suspended. Once the duration of your suspension has ended, and you have fulfilled any other requirements to be eligible to get your license back, you will have to pay a license reinstatement fee. This fee will be at least $100. Need to learn more about reinstating your license? Visit our Suspended License in California page.

The True Cost of a DUI

Added together all of these DUI-related costs mean you should be ready to pay an estimated $45,435 for a DUI. Keep in mind that this is an estimated minimum for a first-time offense. There is a very good chance you could end up paying more and the number will just keep increasing after each violation. So it is easy to see that getting behind the wheel after drinking is just not worth it. A cab ride is going to cost nowhere near $45,000. Save some money and some lives, don’t drink and drive.


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