A DUI conviction might involve paying hefty fines, legal costs, issuance fees for a driver's license, and loss of income due to high insurance rates and incarceration. Thus, we at the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm are here to help get the DUI charge reduced or dismissed so that you can avoid expensive DUI costs. Our attorneys are experienced in handling DUI cases throughout the San Jose area.
Overview of California DUI
San Jose is among the cities in California with the highest cases of DUI. Authorities are keen on reducing cases of drunk driving. California statute prohibits drivers from operating a car when they have a blood-alcohol level of .08% or more. The law is not the same for all motorists. Commercial drivers are not allowed to drive when they have a BAC of .04% or higher. Drivers below the age of 21 shouldn’t drive when they have a BAC level of .01%. Aside from proving illegal BAC levels in DUI cases, the prosecution must also demonstrate that the defendant was driving.
Understanding DUI Arrests
An apprehension for a DUI begins with a traffic stop or at a sobriety checkpoint. The police officer who stops you will observe any signs of intoxication, and if he or she notices any, they will ask you to step out of the car. The officer will then require you to perform field sobriety tests that involve physical exercise. They will ask you to blow a Breathalyzer once or twice. If you pass a Breathalyzer test, the officer will let you leave. If you fail the test, the arresting officer will put you under arrest. The arresting officer is required by law to take you to the nearest hospital or police station where you will give a sample of your blood or breath for evaluation or testing. Note that it is wise not to decline the chemical tests because refusing to take the test will attract as much as 364 days of driver’s license suspension.
Blood sample results might take days before they are out, but for a breath test, you will have the outcome on the same day. If you are facing a misdemeanor DUI, after the arrest and booking, you will be set free. However, you will receive a citation. It is often a pink document that indicates your new date with the court. If you are facing a felony DUI, things are different. You will not be released unless you post bail. If you are from California, your license will be confiscated and forwarded to the DMV.
A charge is considered a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances surrounding the case and prior DUIs. If a DUI has no aggravating factors like death or severe injuries, it is a misdemeanor. If aggravating factors like death are present, the charge becomes a felony. No matter the type of accusation you are facing, speaking to your DUI attorney is a wise thing, so they can develop an effective defense that will see the charges possibly dropped.
The financial consequences of a DUI in California are very severe. The reason being the ripple effects of drunk driving will be felt for years, and they come with huge expenses. Not many people are aware of these financial expenses that come with a drunk driving conviction. If they were aware of these cost implications, no one would be willing to drive while under the influence.
First, it is critical to understand that no two drunk driving charges are equal. The location and the judge handling your case determines how much costs you are going to incur. There are many costs that you will incur in the whole process, which include:
- Court fines
- Administrative costs
- Injuries caused to the victims
- Impounded vehicle expenses
- Costs of attending DUI programs
In a simple DUI where nobody dies, the costs are as follows:
- You will pay a fine of not less than three hundred and ninety dollars and not more than one thousand dollars. The fine applies for first, second, and third time DUI offenders. The fines might be followed with further penalty assessment costs, raising the fees to $1750.
- One hundred and seventy dollars for booking and fingerprint
- $350 as towing and impound fee for the car
- Restitution of one hundred and forty dollars to the victim
- Dollars five hundred and seventy-five as a fee for attending DUI School for thirty-six months.
- $125 DMV license fees
- Insurance increase of ten thousand dollars within ten years
- Bail costs amounting to $ 2500
Understanding DUI Costs
Below is a further breakdown of the above DUI costs:
- Legal Fees
The court often orders these after a conviction of driving under the influence. The maximum amount you will pay if you are a first-time offender is $1,245. If you are innocent, the legal fees will be less than this amount.
- Attorney Fees
You should not risk representing yourself in DUI cases because the chances of a conviction are higher than when an attorney represents you. The experience and reputation of the attorney will also determine your chances of winning the case. To get an experienced attorney for representation, you must be willing to part with a minimum amount of three thousand dollars. The most expensive DUI attorney will charge five thousand dollars for their services. If the amount proves challenging to raise, you can tell the court you cannot afford one, and they will avail a public defender for your representation. The fees charged by public defenders are much lower than those of private defenders. The disadvantage of attorneys provided to you by the government is that they represent many clients at the same time, thus have limited time to give your case the attention it requires. A private attorney, on the other hand, will charge more, but they will dedicate all their time and resources to ensure you get a favorable outcome.
Based on the circumstances surrounding your case, you might be allowed to post a certain amount of money as bail to secure your release. For simple DUI offenses, you might post a bail amount of as low as $150. If it is a felony DUI, the bail amount might rise to $2,500.
- Insurance Rates Increase
After a DUI conviction, your vehicle insurer is going to increase the cost of the policy because of your reputation. The DMV requires you to purchase SR-22 insurance form and keep it for thirty-six months. Keep in mind that this is a high-risk insurance policy, which means your insurance rates will go high. You might end up paying one thousand five hundred dollars a year for three years. These insurance rates make convictions for drunk driving very expensive for offenders.
- Alcohol or Drug Addiction School/DUI School
As part of your sentence, the judge might order you to enroll in an alcohol or drug awareness program or a DUI school. The programs often last for as much as nine months and not less than three months. In these programs, you might end up parting with an average of $575 as fees.
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
Also, as part of the penalties for DUI, the judge handling your case might order you to install an IID in your vehicle. The device prevents the car from igniting if it detects alcohol or drugs in your breath. Connecting the equipment and ensuring regular maintenance will see you pay tremendous amounts of money. An IID averagely sells at $120.
- Car Hauling and Impounding Fee
When you are stopped and arrested for operating a car while under the influence, the arresting officer will have the car hauled to an impound lot. When going to pick your car afterward, you will be required to pay a towing and impounding fee. These will cost you an average sum of three hundred and fifty dollars.
- DMV Costs
If your license is suspended after a DMV hearing, you will need to pay a license reinstatement fee. On average, getting the driving permit reissued or re-instated will see you part with at least one hundred and twenty-five dollars and up to two hundred and sixty dollars.
DUI Costs for First DUI
Other additional costs that you will incur are:
A first time DUI charge is a misdemeanor; thus, you will be subject to as much as one hundred and eighty days and not less than two days in jail. A second DUI is subject to at least three days or no more than 364 days sentence while the third DUI carries no more than 12 months jail or sixteen months’ state incarceration. The advantage of the first DUI is that the judge might order probation instead of jail time. Note that if you are unlucky and get sentenced to jail, you will not be working, which means the income for the period you are in prison will be lost.
On the issue of licenses, the criminal court will suspend the license for a first time DUI offender for no more than six months. The Department of Motor Vehicles, on the other hand, will impose a 120-day administrative suspension. Refusal to take the BAC test will have the DMV increase the suspension to 364 days. After one month of the initial license suspension, you can apply for a restricted license.
For the second time DUI offenders, the court will suspend your license for twenty-four months while the DMV will impose another twelve months’ administrative suspension if the BAC is .08% or higher. For these offenders, you can only apply for a restricted license after completing three months of the initial suspension. Note that in a DUI involving drugs, the suspension might extend from three months to twelve months.
Third time DUI offenders are subject to three-year court suspension, a one-year administrative suspension from the DMV where the BAC of the defendant is .08% or higher. A suspension under third DUI also means that you will have to wait for the initial one hundred and eighty days to be over before you can apply for a restricted license.
Note that if you have multiple suspension, you can overlap and serve the most extended suspension so that you don’t have to face all of them separately. Also, know that when your license is suspended, before a restricted license is issued, you will be forced to pay a taxi every day for the period of suspension. If your license suspension is six months, it means for this duration, you will be paying bus or lift fares, which are costly.
In the first DUI, you will face three years of informal probation. Some of the conditions for the parole include:
- Completing a three month DUI school with 30-hour lessons
- Complete a nine months DUI program and 60 hours of classes if you were arrested with a BAC of .20% or more.
A second DUI offender will be granted probation for no more than three years, although at times, parole can go to a maximum of five years. One of the conditions of this probation is completing an eighteen or thirty months DUI school program. 3rd DUI offenders will be put on parole for between three to five years with a compulsory thirty months DUI school.
Another additional DUI cost is installing an ignition interlock device in the car. The machine costs between $70 to $ 120. Then you are required to pay a monthly fee of between sixty to eighty dollars. It means that a first time DUI offender who installs the device for no more than six months will part with up to $120 for purchasing the equipment plus as much as $480 total monthly cost of the machine. A second offender whose license is revoked for twelve months will pay the value of the device plus up to $960 total cost for the period the equipment is installed. 3rd DUI offenders install the IID for two years, which means the full fees at the end of the twenty-four months are $1,920.
When you evaluate the costs of installing an IID, you will clearly understand why a DUI on your record can be costly. Therefore, it is advisable when you have been drinking or using drugs to avoid operating a motor vehicle. It is cheaper to pay for a taxi to drop you home rather than insisting on driving while under the influence, which might later appear to be very expensive after a DUI arrest.
Remember that the DUIs discussed above don’t involve injuries or death. Where you have killed someone or caused severe physical injuries because of your DUI, you will face harsher consequences. On top of the court fines, legal fees, and installing IID, you will have to pay hospital bills for the victims. If the event the victim dies, you will cover the burial and funeral costs on top of other expenses incurred in the process. No matter the size of your budget, DUI costs are expensive and can cause you huge problems. With an excellent DUI defense attorney, however, you can prevent all these expenses by winning the case of having the charges minimized.
Elements the Prosecution Must Prove for a DUI Conviction
The prosecution begins its investigations the moment a file is forwarded to them by the arresting officer. The police report provides the DA with the evidence they need to get a conviction. Despite the evidence, the prosecutor has to convince the jury or the judge beyond moral certainty that you were DUI. Below are the elements the prosecution must prove:
The prosecutor should demonstrate to the court that you were driving if at all, he or she is to get a conviction.
In some cases, the arresting officer personally observes you operate a vehicle. In others, the officer doesn’t see you or the defendant drive, and this is common in car crashes involving drunk drivers. In such a situation, it is up to the prosecution to prove that you were driving. They will turn to witnesses for statements that can help them establish the fact.
In cases where no witnesses were present, the prosecution relies heavily on circumstantial evidence. Here, they can use your sitting position to demonstrate you were operating the vehicle. Also, he or she can argue that the car key was in the ignition, thus the reason for believing you were driving.
Note that if the car didn’t move an inch, you were not driving. The court will need a voluntary movement of a vehicle to confirm that the defendant was driving.
- Blood Alcohol Concentration Level
The prosecution could only convict you if they can establish before the jury that you were under the influence at the time of operating the car, or you had a BAC level of .08% or higher. For them to prove your BAC level was beyond the legal limit, the test results from the police report will be evidence. The proof of the results will stand in court if the prosecution confirms that before the administration of the tests, the arresting officer observed you for around fifteen minutes.
The prosecutor will also need expert witnesses to explain how the results were taken after the traffic stop to try and show that the test results are reliable because they were conducted as provided in the guidelines. If they prove the due process was followed during the administration of the tests, then the BAC results will be used as proof, thus resulting in a conviction.
If you declined the chemical tests, the prosecution would have only to demonstrate that you were driving under the influence. Field sobriety test results might also be valuable in showing the court that you were intoxicated.
- Probable Cause
For an officer to make a traffic stop, he or she must have a probable reason for the stop. Some of the reasons you might be stopped include a broken taillight or expired license plates. Also, if the officer observed you swerving on the lanes, he or she might have a reason to believe you are intoxicated.
Before conducting field sobriety tests, the officer must have seen signs of intoxication such as alcohol odor or blurred eyes. If any of these signs are present, the officer can request you to step out of the car for FSTs.
Possible Legal Defenses for DUI
When it comes to DUI defense, you will need a profound and experienced attorney who will evaluate the elements or facts presented by the attorney then challenge them or poke holes. Below are some of the defenses against DUI charges:
You were not Driving
If you were arrested for drunk driving while asleep in your car or when sited on the driver’s seat, but with the engine off, you can argue that you were not driving or in any form of physical control over the vehicle.
FSTs were Inaccurate
A reasonable defense attorney will explain to the court how field sobriety tests can affect your balance and body coordination. You can, therefore, argue that you have a nerve condition or you had fatigue at the time the FSTs were being conducted. Consequently, you didn’t fail the FSTs because of intoxication, but instead, it was because of other things.
The Arresting Officer Didn’t Observe you for 15 Minutes
The law requires that the officer observes you as the defendant for fifteen minutes before the tests. It is done to ensure that during that time, you don’t drink alcohol or do something else that might increase the BAC levels. If the officer didn’t conduct this observation, you can question the test results and put doubts about them in the minds of the judge and the jury. If the test results are not reliable, the case is thrown out.
Find a San Diego DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
Apart from the consequences that come with a DUI conviction, the DUI costs associated with a sentence for the charge are even harsher. Therefore, we at the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm advise you to hire the services of an expert DUI defense attorney. If you are looking for an attorney who is experienced in defending people who are facing DUI charges in San Jose, you can get in touch with us at 408-777-6630. We specialize in DUI defense services.