Misdemeanor DUI Fines in California

Drivers sometimes believe that they have no defense to a DUI and that they might as well “pay the fine and get it over with.” Unfortunately, it is never that simple.

As an experienced DUI defense attorney, Randy Collins wants everyone who is charged with a California misdemeanor DUI to understand what they are facing. Fines are a painful consequence of a misdemeanor DUI conviction, but convictions carry costs that go beyond the simple payment of a base fine.

What fines am I facing for a misdemeanor DUI conviction?

California assesses steep fines for DUI convictions. But fines are only part of the story.

Counties add court costs to the base fine. The California legislature requires courts to add a variety of other assessments to the base fine for a DUI. Costs and assessments often result in in a total payment that is four to five times greater than the base fine. While the base fine for a first offense DUI ranges from $390 to $1,000, adding costs and assessments to a $390 fine might boost the total cost to $1,800 or more, depending on the county in which you are convicted.

In addition, the base fine you pay is affected by the sentencing guidelines that the court follows. The DUI guidelines in Orange County, for example, are particularly harsh. The guidelines take into account your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), whether you caused an injury, and whether your driving was particularly dangerous or reckless.

Second and third offense DUIs carry the same range of base fines but courts typically follow guidelines that call for larger base fines for each subsequent offense. Since some assessments are calculated as a percentage of the base fine, the total you pay increases substantially as the base fine increases. The maximum base fine for a misdemeanor DUI causing injury is $5,000.

In addition to the fine plus costs and assessments, you will be required to pay the costs associated with probation, including the cost of attending a driver education or treatment program. Depending on the other penalties that are imposed, you may also be paying installation and monthly maintenance fees for an ignition interlock or vehicle impoundment fees.

The suspension or revocation of your driver’s license will not be lifted until you become eligible for reinstatement or relicensing. At that point, you will need to pay a fee to the DMV. If you are eligible for a restricted (work-related) driver’s license prior to the reinstatement of your regular license, you will need to pay another fee to DMV for its issuance.

There are also “hidden costs” to a DUI conviction that are not imposed by the court. For example, while your driver’s license is suspended, you may need to pay the costs of alternative transportation, such as taxi fares. The higher premiums you will pay for auto insurance are often the most substantial hidden fee associated with a DUI conviction. Higher premiums can plague convicted drivers for many years.

How can I avoid misdemeanor DUI consequences?

The Law Offices of Randy Collins helps California drivers avoid DUI convictions. Recognized as a Top Orange County Lawyer, Randy Collins uses his years of experience as a DUI defense attorney to obtain dismissals, acquittals, and negotiated resolutions that avoid misdemeanor DUI convictions.

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From offices in Orange and Riverside Counties, Randy Collins represents individuals accused of DUI in all Southern California courts. Never pay a misdemeanor DUI fine without calling (888) 250-2865 to ask for legal advice from The Law Offices of Randy Collins.