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2023 How Much Does a DUI Cost in California?


Choosing to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a dangerous action that can cause severe harm to not only the driver but others on the road around them. As a result, it is not a surprise that driving under the influence can result in harsh legal penalties if you are caught by law enforcement. Potential penalties increase as the number of DUIs that you have been convicted of increases in the previous ten years, and prosecutors will lose their leniency as you develop a pattern of impaired driving.

If you need a DUI Defense Attorney in Torrance, CA, Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, is ready to defend your rights and ensure that the proper procedures are followed throughout the process. Law enforcement and prosecutors can become complacent during DUI cases, ignoring protocol and skipping essential steps in evidence collection. Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, can help you determine whether your arrest was legal and your potential options forward.

DUI Conviction

There are two ways to be convicted of a DUI under California law: Vehicle Code 23152(a) and Vehicle Code 23152(b).

  • Vehicle Code 23152(a): It is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, including some over-the-counter or prescription medications. This means that you can be arrested for a DUI if you show signs of being impaired, even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is not above the legal limit.
  • Vehicle Code 23152(b): It is unlawful to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08%. This standard exists independently of your tolerance and the level of safety in which you are driving. You can be convicted of a DUI if your BAC is above the legal limit, even without showing any outward signs of intoxication.

Although you can be convicted of both crimes, it will count as a single DUI charge. You will be charged under only one law, and it will count as one DUI for the repeat DUI standards.

DUI Court-Imposed Costs

Even for a first-time DUI with the most lenient penalties, the overall cost of a DUI is significant. The criminal penalties include incarceration and fines. Fines can range from $390 and $5,000, depending on the circumstances of the DUI. A first-offense DUI can result in fines between $390 and $1,000, but a felony DUI that causes an injury can result in fees ranging from $1,015 to $5,000. In addition, other court-imposed penalties that result from a DUI conviction will also carry costs:

  • Towing and storage fees
  • DMV license reinstatement fee
  • DUI classes
  • Victim restitution
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

Other Costs of a DUI

Costs that arise due to sanctions given by the court are far from the only ones that you will be impacted by after a DUI conviction. To effectively fight a DUI charge, you will likely need the assistance of a DUI attorney, whose fees can easily reach thousands of dollars if your case is complex or drawn out. Although the cost may seem significant, an attorney can often offset some of the severe penalties you can face due to a DUI conviction.

Your vehicle insurance will also increase, as your insurance company will consider you an increased risk with the potential to cause more damage than a driver without a DUI conviction. There may also be costs associated with losing your job and finding a new place of employment if you are arrested and miss work shifts due to court dates, incarceration, and/or the loss of your driver’s license.


Q: Can I Get a DUI Expunged From My Criminal Record in California?

A: A DUI can be expunged from your criminal record if it meets the eligibility standards under California law. This generally requires that you were not sentenced to prison time and that you have successfully completed probation. Once you have completed probation, you are eligible for automatic expungement under the 2023 Senate Bill SB 731.

Q: Should I Plead Guilty to a DUI?

A: In almost all circumstances, you should speak to an attorney before pleading guilty to a DUI. Having a DUI on your record can cause debilitating fines, incarceration, and lifelong consequences. An attorney can help you explore your options, as you cannot be convicted if your rights were violated during the arrest or the police failed to follow vital protocol. Although a DUI arrest will show on your record, a DUI conviction is worse and takes longer to have expunged.

Q: How Can a DUI Affect My Job?

A: One major cost of a DUI is how it can affect your job. Getting arrested and spending time in jail means that you cannot show up to work shifts, which can result in you getting fired. Some professional licenses, certifications, and insurance will also be affected if you are convicted of a DUI. Even a single criminal conviction can result in license disciplinary action. DUI cases are taken especially seriously by professions that involve driving, prescribing medications, or counseling.

Q: Will My Insurance Rate Increase After a DUI?

A: Drivers with a DUI on their driving record will generally see their premiums increase by up to 165%, with repeat offenders potentially doubling or tripling their rates. You are not legally obligated to report a DUI conviction to your insurance unless you caused an accident. However, your insurance company will generally find out about the DUI when they run a background check to renew your policy or the driver asks the insurer for an SR-22 form to reinstate their license.

Total Cost of a DUI

Ultimately, a DUI can cost tens of thousands of dollars by the time the situation is completely resolved. Outside of the hundreds and potentially thousands of dollars you will owe in court fees and restitution, you will also need to retain a DUI attorney. Until you can have the conviction expunged from your record, and no longer need to report the DUI, you may also have difficulty finding affordable housing and a higher-paying job.

If you are arrested for a DUI, contact Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, so we can help you fight the charges and achieve the most favorable resolution.

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