California’s DUI laws can be complex and confusing. In this section, our attorneys break down the rules and explain the process.
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Consider the scenario where the police arrested you for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). You are placed in custody and told that you have to post bail to get released. What should you know?
One important thing to know right off the bat is that many times you may be released on your own recognizance without having to post bail. Many jurisdictions simply keep you in a holding tank until you sober up, and then release you after you sign a written promise to show up to court on a specific day.
But if you are required to post bail in order to get released, there are five key things to know. These are:
Note that “bail” is money that you must post with the court in order to be released from custody. Its purpose is to help make sure that you attend all future court dates.
A judge will often hold a bail hearing if you are held in custody following a DUI arrest.
At the hearing, the judge will decide whether you:
If a judge decides that you have to pay DUI bail, he/she will determine the amount of bail.
Note that bail amounts are often determined by a county or jurisdiction’s bail schedule. But a judge usually has wide discretion in increasing or decreasing your bail upon considering:
Sometimes a judge will consider bail issues at an arraignment rather than a bail hearing.
Many jurisdictions have bail schedules that set forth preset bail amounts for DUI offenses.
But this amount can increase depending on the facts of your case. For example, your bail will increase in your Los Angeles County drunk driving case if your DUI arrest:
If you are facing DUI charges, you should consult with a DUI defense attorney or criminal defense lawyer to learn more about:
Most often, yes. If you have the full amount of money to cover your given bond amount in your DUI case, you can deposit this money with the clerk or the court and get released on cash bail.
But people usually do not have enough cash to cover all of the bail amount. In this case, you can obtain a bail bond to get released from custody.
With a bail bond, a bail bondsman posts your bail for you in exchange for a non-refundable bond premium. The exact amount of the premium is a certain percentage of your total bail amount.4
Consider, for example, the case where your state sets bond premiums at 10%. If your misdemeanor DUI case involves a bail amount of $1,000, then you will pay a bondsman a $100 nonrefundable fee to post your bond.
A bail bondsman is sometimes referred to as a “bail bond agent.”
Most often, yes. State laws typically allow someone other than the DUI offender to post bail on the offender’s behalf.
This other person can either post cash bail or secure bail with a bail bond.
But if you post bond on behalf of someone arrested for DUI, note that the act may form a three-way contract between:
This means that you may take on the responsibility of making sure the offender appears in court.
If you post cash bail and make all of your court appearances, you will generally receive a full refund of the bail amount after the case is closed. But if you fail to appear for a court date, you will forfeit the full amount of your bail.5
If you use a bail bond to post your bail, you will usually not get your bond premium back. This is true no matter whether you:
Recall that your bond premium is non-refundable, which means that there is no bail refund in criminal cases.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.