Most people are aware that a DUI conviction can cost you your license, your time, your job, and sometimes, depending on the severity, cost you time in jail. But that is not what this legal guide is about. I am here to explain the real monetary cost of a DUI.


Once arrested for a DUI, you will have to spend a couple of hours in jail. Generally, if it is your first DUI, you will be released on your own recognizance, meaning you do not have to post bail. However, in some cases, even if it is your first DUI, you will be required to post bail to get out of jail. For example, in San Diego County, bail is required even in misdemeanor cases. If it is a felony DUI, you will be required to post bail. In either situation, bail can range from low thousands ($2,500) to hundreds of thousands or more ($250,000+) depending on the severity of the case. The severity is based on whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, the number of previous DUI’s, the BAC (blood alcohol content), whether there was excessive speed (20-30 mph over the speed limit), and whether there was an accident and/or death. If you get a bail bondsman you will only have to pay a portion of that amount which is usually 10%. However, some attorneys can refer you to a bondsman that charge a premium as low as 8%. Therefore, contacting the right attorney can help save you some money on the bond.

Average Cost: ~$150 – $1,500


At the time of your DUI arrest, your vehicle is usually towed. Depending on when you can retrieve your vehicle, there are impounding fees for each additional day.

Average Cost: ~$250


If you want to hire an attorney, it can cost you anywhere from $2,500 – $5,000 for a misdemeanor DUI. It may be 2-3 times that amount for a felony. Some attorneys will include the DMV hearing, motions and pre-trial appearances in that fee, while others will charge extra. Also, if you want to go to trial, it will cost more money because there are additional costs for experts and investigators, which can be $1000 or more.

Average Cost: ~$3,000


From the moment you are arrested, the officer will take your driver’s licence away and you will be given a temporary licence. You are allowed to drive for 30 days with that temporary license, unless you, or your attorney, schedule a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. Then your temporary license can be extended by a couple of weeks to a couple of months. What people do not realize is DMV hearings can cost you money. First, it is advisable to retain an attorney to represent you at the hearing. While you can represent yourself, there are procedures that an attorney is familiar with, that you may not be. Also, while you can get a public defender when you go to court, often times the DMV hearing is scheduled before you go to court, and before you can request a public defender; therefore, you would need to hire an attorney if you want representation at the DMV hearing. Depending upon the facts of your case, you may want to subpoena a witness or get an expert for the hearing, which will also cost you money. It costs $150 to subpoena a non-CHP officer, maybe more depending on if that officer is going to testify in person rather than telephonically. CHP officers cost a lot more – up to $750 or more- because they charge an hourly rate and forbid telephonic testimony. Also, a process server will charge about $50 to serve that subpoena. An expert witness may charge around $500-$1000 to testify if necessary.

Average Cost: ~$0 – $1,000


There is a standard penalty for first time DUI’s which is 3 years summary probation, a 3 month alcohol program, called AB541, and a $390 fine plus penalty assessments. The penalty assessments vary by court. In Los Angeles County it comes to about $2,000, whereas in Orange County, it is about $2300. If there was an accident, that cost would increase because you would have to pay for damages, referred to as restitution. If you had a high BAC or multiple DUI’s, the cost and the length of the alcohol program would increase. For example in Long Beach, the fine for a first time DUI with a high BAC would be about $3,000. Finally, if you want a trial, the court costs would increase as well.

Average Cost: ~$2,000 – $3,000

DUI Class

For a first time DUI, a 3 month alcohol program is generally required. The cost of the 3 month program is approximately $500. Usually, the cost will be made in payments with $150 up front and the remaining $350 spread out over the 12 weeks. If you had a high BAC or multiple DUI’s, you would be required to take a 6,9 or 18 month program which would cost you more. If you had a low BAC, your attorney may be able to negotiate for a Wet Reckless which would be a 12 hour alcohol program and cost you less.

Average Cost: ~$500


In Los Angeles County, an ignition interlock device (IID) is required for 5 months if you are convicted of a first time DUI. Other counties will require the IID for second or subsequent DUI’s. The cost of the IID varies depending on the city you live in and the type of car you have. The approximate cost of an IID is $75 per month plus $75 for installation. But installation can be an additional $40-$125 depending on the make, model and year of your car. For example, if you have a hybrid or keyless ignition car, it can cost about $40 more. If you have a European car, it can cost about $50 more.

Average Cost: ~$500


An SR-22 is a form that the DMV requires drivers to get if they see the driver as “high-risk”. A driver is “high risk” if he was in a car accident while uninsured or has a suspended licence either because he was deemed a habitual traffic offender, has been convicted of driving without insurance, or convicted of driving under the influence. If you are convicted of a DUI, you will need to show the DMV proof of an SR-22 before you can get your license back. The first step is to contact your insurance company and tell them you need to file the SR-22 form.Some carriers do not provide SR-22’s and you would have to contact an outside agency. Your attorney can help refer you to an insurance agency. You will then fill out the SR-22 form and the Insurance company will send that to the DMV. The filing fee is $25-$50. This fee however, is just the beginning. Your insurance is going to go up as a result of the DUI. (see below)

Average Cost: ~$50


Your insurance will go up because of the DUI and often times it can be 3-5 times your normal rate. The rate your insurance goes up varies depending on your insurance carrier, where you live, your liability limits, your driving record and the car your drive. Also, you will now be classified as a “high-risk” driver and lose any safe or preferred driver discount.

Average Cost: ~$3,000-5,000 per year


Once you start your alcohol program and get an SR-22, you can get a restricted license. After completing the alcohol program, you can get your license back with no restrictions. Either way, you have to pay the DMV a driver’s license reissuance fee of $125.

Average Cost: ~$125


Average Cost
Bail $150 – $1,500
Towing and Impound $250
Attorney $3,000 – $5,000
DMV Hearing $0 – $1,000
Court Cost $2,000 – $3000
DUI Cost $500
Ignition Interlock Device $500
SR-22 $50
Auto Insurance $3,000-5,000 per year
Drivers License $125
Total $10,000 – $15,000


While getting a DUI can be costly, not having the right representation can be worse. Having the right attorney is important because he or she can help minimize your costs by getting you a lower premium on your bail, a decreased charge, a reduced offer or even a dismissal. It is also important to hire an attorney right away because from the moment you are arrested, whether it’s bail, towing fees or the DMV hearing, you are incurring costs right away. The longer you wait, the more expensive it may be. If you get a DUI and need assistance contacting companies that deal with bail, the SR-22 or the IID, contact the Law Office of Heena Patel. Ms. Patel can put you in touch with the right people and help save you money.