The Road Ahead
Getting a DUI can be a long road to recover from. For first offenders, the average cost of a DUI in California can range between $6,000-$10,000 according to the Alcohol and Drug Program department in California. There are also many hurdles to over come like mandatory probation, community service and drug and alcohol education classes. With all the hoops to jump through, you may feel like you may never drive again. Here is a road map from Shift Insurance on how to get back behind the wheel.
How Much Will It Cost Me?
According to the DMV costs for DUI are estimated at more than $8,000 (actual costs may vary).
Here is a general itemized breakdown for a first offense:
$1,500 ------------- For fines and penalties
$215 --------------- For towing and impound fees
$626---------------- For a first offender program course
$800 --------------- Court Costs
$2,700 ------------- Insurance Increase
$2,500 ------------- Attorney Fees
$500 --------------- Restitution Fund
$125 --------------- DMV Reissue Fee
$8,966 ------------ Total Approximate Cost
Mandatory License Suspension
California First offence:
21+ : There is a mandatory 4 month suspension on your drivers license. This can be reduced to a 1 month suspension with 5 months of a restricted license (for work or in rare instances school). In order to have this reduced one must show proof of enrollment in a DUI school and provide the DMV with an SR-22 (proof of insurance). Please note if the case involves a "refusal to test" then there is a mandatory suspension of 1 year and no opportunity for a restricted license for work.
Under 21 : There is a 0 tolerance law in California for drivers under 21. Even if you have a BAC of 0.01%, you can be charged with a DUI. If you are under 21 years of age at the time of the DUI arrest and you took a chemical test, there is a mandatory 1 year suspension with no opportunity for a restricted license or a 1 year delay of your license if you have not received it yet. If you refused the chemical test, you could face up to 3 years of license suspension.
There are more severe punishments for multiple offenders. The process is the same for multiple offenders with the inclusion of jail time for heavy offenders. View this chart for increased penalties:
Multiple DUI Penalties
You may be eligible for a noncommercial restricted driver license if:
1. This is your first offence
2. You completed a chemical test and the results showed a BAC level of 0.04% while driving a commercial vehicle, or 0.08% or more for noncommercial
3. You were 21 years of age or older (VC §13353.7)
4. Your driving privilege is not suspended or revoked for other reasons
If you qualify, you can get a restricted license by waiting until the end of the mandatory 30-day suspension period and completing these steps:
1. Enroll in a licensed driving under the influence First Offender program.
2. Make sure the program coordinator files a Proof of Enrollment Certificate (DL 107) in a licensed First Offender Program with the DMV. (CVC §23538[b])
3. Provide proof of financial responsibility to the DMV (i.e., an SR 22, $35,000 cash deposit, surety bond, or self insurer certificate under CVC §16430).
4. Pay the DMV a $125 fee to reissue your license.
5. Request an Employment and Program Restriction. Your driving privilege will be restricted to only to and from work and the DUI program. Unfortunately for the period of the restricted license, these are the only places acceptable to drive to and from. This restriction is valid for five months and is limited to only work and the First Offender program.
First Offender Program
Enrolling in a DUI program is the first step you need to take to get your license back. If this is your first offence, this is the longest portion of the process. It is recommended that you enroll in a class as soon as you know your license will be suspended.
The First offender program must be completed as a requirement to receive your license back or for eligibility for a restricted license. These classes range from 3 months - 30 months depending on the number of occurrences. For a complete list of program locations in California (2012), visit the Alcohol and Drug Program's (ADP) website.
DUI First Offender Programs Application
SR-22 - Proof of Insurance
The next step is to obtain an SR-22. This is slightly easier to do than completing the DUI program but a bit more costly. Expect to see anywhere from a 20%-30% increase on your insurance rates for the next 3-7 years after conviction.
To get your license back you must be able to provide proof of insurance to the DMV. Unlike insurance for non-DUI offenders, the DMV must know about the status of your insurance at all times. It is extremely important to maintain a consistent SR-22 for the entire duration of your required period (usually 3 years). If you did not know, a suspension stays on your driving record and counts against your insurance rates for 5 years. Every time you lapse your insurance policy or cancel it, the DMV is notified and your license is automatically suspended again. If this happens, you will earn another suspension period on your driving record and your 5 years starts over.
An SR-22 can be obtained from your current insurance provider. However if you are with an insurance company that competes in the preferred insurance markets, you may be dropped or non-renewed as soon as they find out about your DUI. Regardless of your situation it can be beneficial to shop around online or locally and see who can help you get cheap car insurance in California.
HELPFUL TIP: If possible, wait until you are almost done or have completed your required classes to get your SR-22. The reason for this is you will begin paying a higher rate for your insurance as soon as the SR-22 is issued. Because you are not eligible to drive until you complete this course any way, it is more cost effective to wait until completion.
Paying the Fines
The final step to getting your license back is paying all the fines. There can be quite a few fines associated with getting a DUI but the most relevant one to getting your license back is the court imposed fine and the DMV fee for reissuing your license. The court ordered fines can range from $300-$1500 and can sometimes be converted into community service hours (cal trans) or jail time. The current (2012) fee in California to reissue a drivers license is $125 or $100 if you were convicted under the "0 tolerance" law.
Other fees that can be included in a DUI but are not directly related to getting your license back can include things like:
- Towing and storage fees for your vehicle
- DUI attorney
- Any damages you may have caused because of the DUI