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Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenses are not always committed with malicious intent. A person might not think he or she is intoxicated. After all, the persons only consumed a “few drinks.” Whatever drinks or other substances the person took, it was enough to draw the attention of the police. Upon failing the field sobriety test, the person is arrested and charged. Soon after, the significant expenses associated with DUI charges reveal themselves. And yes, the actual monetary cost of being charged with a DUI are significant.
Being charged with a DUI could lead to criminal proceedings. These proceedings would be in addition to those involving traffic court. In California, dealing with both the criminal court and the traffic courts means an attorney — or team of attorneys — can be very expensive. The costs of legal representation surely are worth it to most people. The consequences of not hiring an attorney might be too much to bear.
The Penalties Associated with DUI in California
Jail time is possible even when convicted of a first-time misdemeanor DUI even when no one is injured. Jail time may be avoided with first offenses, but the monetary costs associated with a conviction are enormous.
DUI fines are steep in California. A first offense leads to fines and penalties up to $1,000. Second and third offenses can lead to fines and penalties up to $1,800.
Lawyer fees and fines/penalties are not the only sources of financial costs to a person convicted of a DUI. A driver’s license will be suspended. The length of the suspension varies depending on the particulars of the case and prior convictions. Being unable to drive could mean being unable to work. Losing your job could be a possibility as well. The impact of a conviction does impact employment and could do so significantly.
And even more costs might be imposed. Mandatory alcohol and drug counseling add further costs. Special ignition devices, ones connected to a breathalyzer, may need to be installed. The driver would be the one paying for the device. All these costs continue to add up.
Felony DUI matters bring even more significant monetary costs. A felony conviction could even mean significant jail time on top of a maximum fine of up to $18,000.
The Impact of a DUI on Auto Insurance
Prior driving history factors heavily into the rates set with a current policy. Those with clean driving records often find themselves being rewarded with reasonable rates. A person convicted of a DUI soon discovers his/her rates skyrocket. Actually, the insurance company might simply choose to drop someone who is convicted of a DUI. The risk of insuring such a driver could be too much for a particular provider to bear.
The driver then must turn towards a high-risk policy for coverage. High-risk policies come with enormous premium fees. Drivers who cannot afford the insurance may simply have to stop driving. Driving without insurance in California and mostly all states would get the person behind the wheel into even more trouble.
The Benefits of an Attorney
An attorney may not be able to secure a not guilty verdict for someone charged with a DUI, but an attorney can plea to the court for leniency in sentencing. Leniency can refer to a reduction in the penalty amount. Just as there are maximum fines, a minimum fine amount exists. An attorney may be able to successfully negotiate lower fine amounts.
Unavoidably, even with solid representation, persons convicted of a DUI will be looking at extensive costs. The best way to avoid such expenses entails not driving while intoxicated.