How a DUI Conviction Will Affect Your Finances
Being arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a very serious charge that should not be taken lightly by anyone. Not only does being convicted of this type of crime have an impact on your immediate future – serving jail time, dealing with a license – it can also have short and long-term impact on an individual’s finances. In the state of California, DUI fines for first offenders are up to $1,000, and that does not include the other financial implications the individual may face as a result of their actions.
While the $1,000 fine is reason to sit up take note, drivers also need to take into account all of the other financial problems they will face now and into the future. It is important to keep in mind that, in addition to the high fines, individual’s will also be faced with paying court costs, lawyer’s fees, having to pay for the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device if required, the loss of income they may face, as well as the increase in car insurance rates that is sure to occur after they are convicted of DUI.
Immediate Financial Problems
As mentioned before, individuals will face a number of financial penalties immediately after being arrested for DUI and then again after being convicted. When an individual is arrested for DUI and brought to the jail, if no one is available to pick up their vehicle or the arresting officer does not allow it, impoundment and storage fees will have to be paid for the vehicle in order to get it back. Additionally, if the individual is booked, he or she may have to pay some type of immediate fine before being released.
Before going to court, the offender will likely want to hire a DUI lawyer to help try the case. The prices for an attorney’s services will vary, but generally individuals are looking at paying anywhere between $750 and $1,500 or more for legal services. Depending upon the attorney, fees will have to be paid up front or possibly through a payment plan. Either way, this will be a large blow to the finances.
The financial penalty of being convicted of a DUI will vary from one state to the next. While California will hand down fines of up to $1,000 for first offenders as punishment, some states have established minimums and/or set amounts for financial penalties. If you are traveling outside of California but are a resident, you are still liable to pay the fines as they are laid out by local DUI law.
Long Term Financial Problems
For those individuals who do not have the savings to cover all of their fines, court costs, and lawyer’s fees up front, they will generally be on a payment plan that will impact their finances for months or even years. Even those who can pay everything up front will usually put a large dent in their savings account and will still have to deal with some long term financial repercussions of their DUI conviction. One of the biggest financial burdens individuals will face is the increase in their car insurance rates after conviction.
Car Insurance Rate Increases in California for DUI
After being convicted of a DUI, regardless of the state of residence, the driver will face an increase in insurance rates. This increase will vary from state to state and will also vary between car insurance providers. On average in the state of California, those convicted of DUI can expect their insurance rates to increase by almost 145 percent – California is one of the harshest when it comes to DUI a conviction – which equals a monthly premium payment increase of approximately $170.
Hiring a DUI Attorney
Based on the information provided here, it is easy to see the huge financial impact a DUI conviction can have on an individual’s life. Between vehicle impoundment and storage fees, bail, court costs, fines, penalties, and car insurance rate increases, an individual’s DUI conviction could cost them upwards of $40,000, not including the possibility of loss of income. In order to try and avoid this high price tag, hiring a reputable DUI lawyer for the state in which the charges are being filed is very important.
A good DUI attorney will know the ins and outs of DUI law in the state of California and will be able to build a strong case to present to the court on your behalf. In some cases, it may be possible for the attorney to arrange a plea bargain – this is where the offender pleads guilty to certain charges in order to avoid having the case drug out in court. Usually, the charges in the plea are lesser than those they are actually charged with and will have less serious consequences.
The state of California does allow plea bargaining for DUI charges – often times, individuals will plead guilty to a charge known as “wet reckless.” Wet reckless is defined as a reckless driving charge that involves alcohol. This type of arrangement may be plausible if the individuals Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was on the borderline of being legal, if there was no accidents or injuries involved or the individual has no prior criminal record or record of Driving Under the Influence.
In the end, being arrested, charged and convicted of DUI is very serious and can be very expensive. In order to avoid these repercussions, it is important to be responsible when drinking – always use a designated driver or public transportation after drinking in order to stay clear of danger and the many consequences a DUI conviction can have on your personal and financial future.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.