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How Much Does a DUI Cost in California?
Penalties & Records Explained

When you add up the court fines, increased insurance rates, and lost productivity, etc., being convicted of a DUI in California is more costly than taking a taxi cab across the United States and back.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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The High Cost of a DUI

As if the shame and hassle of being convicted of drunk driving aren’t bad enough, a DUI comes with a hefty price tag, as well. Your first DUI can cost upwards of $20,000, and even much more if property damage or injuries were involved. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) estimates that the total expense of a first DUI conviction costs roughly the equivalent of a taxi ride halfway around the world.

Financial penalties for DUI offenses are intended to deter drunk driving, and it’s no wonder why. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 28 people die every single day as a result of drunk driving accidents, and roughly 1 in 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash during their lifetimes.

California DUI Penalties

DUI OFFENSE JAIL TIME FINE* LICENSE SUSPENSION
First DUI up to 6 months $390-1,000 up to 6 months
Second DUI up to 1 year $390-1,000 up to 2 years
Third DUI up to 1 year $390-1,000 up to 3 years
4th+ DUI Felony up to 3 years $390-1,000 up to 4 years
Injury DUI up to 1 year $390-5,000 1-3 years
Felony Injury DUI up to 16 years $1,015-5,000 up to 5 years

How Common are DUIs in California?

The state of California records information about DUI arrests, convictions, injuries, and fatalities in its annual report of the DUI management information system. According to the report, there were 154,743 drivers arrested for a DUI in California in 2014. Of these:

  • 149,908 drivers were arrested for a misdemeanor DUI
  • 4,835 drivers were arrested for a felony DUI

Related Article: DUI (Drunk Driving Accident) Lawsuit

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in California?

DUIs remain on your driving record with the DMV for 10 years in California. The clock begins ticking on the day of your arrest. After the 10 years have expired, the DUI will no longer appear on your driving record.

Related Article: How Do I Lookup a Dui Arrest Record?

Is it Worth Getting a Lawyer for a DUI in California?

As noted above, a DUI conviction can result in expensive fines, the loss of your driver’s license, and a catastrophic impact on your job and daily life. If you want to keep your driving privileges and the conviction off your record, it is imperative to contact a lawyer immediately after a California DUI arrest.

A knowledgeable and experienced DUI lawyer will have represented many clients in a similar situation and can explain the process so you can relax knowing you’re in good hands. Understanding the court process before, during, and after a DUI case goes a long way to reducing anxiety about the situation.

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