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How much does a DUI cost? Short and long term consequences

Posted by Neil Shouse | Sep 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

man facing dui field sobriety test
A DUI violation can result in hefty fines and jail time, as well as some serious long term issues...

Some short-term costs of a violation of a DUI law include:

  • three to five years of summary probation,
  • six months to several years in county jail (depending on the specific DUI offense charged),
  • fines and penalty assessments that can total up towards $5,000, and
  • completion of DUI school ranging from three to nine months.

Some long-term costs of a DUI include:

  • extended jail time if a defendant has multiple DUIs or is charged with felony DUI,
  • risk of loss of employment,
  • hardship in finding future employment, and
  • loss of educational opportunities.

In California, the two most basic DUI laws include:

  1. driving under the influence, per VC 23152a, and
  2. driving with a BAC of 0.08% or greater, per VC 23152b.

What are the short-term costs of a DUI?

Short-term “costs” of a DUI charge include both monetary losses because of the charge and hardships imposed due to DUI penalties.

Some short-term costs associated with a DUI include:

  • three to five years of misdemeanor (or summary) probation,
  • a maximum of six months (for a first-time DUI) to one year in county jail (for 2nd and 3rd offenses),
  • fines and penalty assessments totaling up towards $5,000,
  • completion of DUI school ranging from three to nine months (typically three months),
  • a six-month driver's license suspension for a first-time DUI (a 2nd and 3rd offense can lead to a suspension period of one to two years respectively),
  • installation of an ignition interlock device,
  • possible enrollment in a work release program,
  • lawyer and legal fees (the actual amount will vary with the complexity of the case),
  • lost income from missing work due to time in jail and/or without a vehicle,
  • taxi or ride-sharing costs (incurred while a driver's license is suspended),
  • a DMV license reinstatement fee, and
  • towing and impound fees (which can total in excess of $200).

What are the long-term costs associated with a DUI?

The long-term costs associated with a DUI charge refer to those that a defendant suffers long after he has completed, or fulfilled, all of the penalties associated with the crime.

These long-term costs may include:

  • an increase in insurance premiums – A person convicted of DUI is considered a “high-risk” driver by insurance companies. This means a company will increase his insurance premiums (by two or three-fold) for several years. Some companies may even terminate a driver's coverage.
  • extended jail time – This applies to those defendants convicted of multiple DUIs or felony DUI. Depending on the facts of the case, extreme DUI charges can lead to decades in jail and even life in state prison.
  • loss of employment – Some employers have a policy that states a DUI will disqualify an employee from his job. Further, some employees that get convicted of DUI may lose their job because of too much time spent away from work – e.g., while dealing with jail time and taking time for making court appearances.
  • hardships in finding future employment – Some employers may choose to hire candidates with a clean record. For this reason, a DUI can place strong limitations on job prospects for those convicted of the offense.
  • loss of educational opportunities – like employers, some schools prefer to accept students with clean records. Some may also have a policy that says criminal arrests will disqualify a candidate from consideration. This means a DUI can lead to a loss of options regarding education.
  • Negative impact on personal relationships – Depending on the facts of the DUI case, the person convicted may feel embarrassed, irresponsible, and foolish. Friends and family members may also look upon the guilty party with concern and with questions about his character and integrity. The combination of these two facts could cause disruptions in personal bonds and family relations.

What are the two most basic DUI laws in California?

These are:

  1. driving under the influence, per VC 23152a, and
  2. driving with a BAC of 0.08% or greater, per VC 23152b.

VC 23152a is the California statute that says it is illegal for a motorist to drive a car while under the influence of alcohol and/or any drugs. “Driving under the influence" means that a motorist's mental and/or physical faculties are impaired to such a degree that he no longer has the ability to drive with the caution characteristic of a sober person.

Vehicle Code 23152b is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or greater.

The penalties for both of these offenses include the short- and long-term costs discussed above.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

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, Court TV, 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.

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