San Diego DUI Law Center

California adds huge penalty assessments and tack-on “extra” fines to the base fines, including DUI, to assist state & local government programs and San Diego Superior Court & other California county operations.

For example, on each California DUI fine, there are substantial, additional, statutory “penalty assessments” (PA) which is approximately 200% of the base DUI fine.  The computations by a court clerk’s office vary and can get complicated.  Here’s a simplified illustration:

  1. Since a DUI fine has a maximum of $1,000, when the Court adds 200% of $1,000, that equals $2,000.  Add the maximum fine and the PA = $3,000.
  2. Plus, there is a mandatory California state restitution fine of $100 to $1,000; the maximum of that addition brings it to $4,000.
  3. Lastly, there’s a probation revocation restitution fine of $100 – $1,000; add the $1,000 maximum for that addition takes you to $5,000.

$5,000 is therefore the most a California DUI fine could be.

Because fines escalate, it makes it hard for people to pay.   Monthly payments are usually required.

California’s Traffic Ticket Amnesty program runs through March 31, 2017, applying discounts of 50% or 80% depending on income to pre-2013 unpaid tickets for some misdemeanors and all infractions except for parking, DUI and reckless driving.  So unfortunately it can be applied in DUI cases.    For traffic tickets it’s a different story.

Pursuant to a new California bill, Department of Motor Vehicles would not be allowed to suspend a driver’s license solely because the driver did not pay for minor traffic tickets or missed a court deadline related to those infractions.

If you have an outstanding traffic ticket causing your California license to be suspended, you are now in luck.  You no longer have to pay the fine(s) in full before reinstating your license or registration and challenging the ticket, says the California Judicial Council.  San Diego DUI lawyers praise this fundamental due process move as Californians were previously being extorted in traffic courts which previously required people to post the entire payment of bail upfront before a hearing unless they were attorneys.

A lawyer could appear in a San Diego California traffic court, request a trial and not have to post bail.  But a citizen without an attorney could not request a trial without first paying the fine in its entirety.  This violated the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection, say San Diego DUI criminal defense lawyers.  Bail only should be charged if a judge has reason to believe the person will not appear at trial.  But why else would a person ask for a trial unless the person wants to show and ask the judge to dismiss the case based on lack of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt or the failure of the officer to show up in court.

This overdue change will properly end the unfair practice of making drivers pay “bail” prior to contesting a traffic citation.  This new procedure will help folks with lower incomes.  California Courts have until September 15, 2015 to ensure their forms and websites implement the new rule.

This rule will help people avoid being penalized for driving on a suspended license when they did not pay their tickets and slow down the increases in insurance rates.  Now the system equally treats those who cannot afford to hire an attorney to fight their traffic ticket.  Of course, hiring a lawyer to handle your traffic ticket is better if you can afford it as an attorney is familiar with the California Vehicle Code, Evidence Code, procedures, officers and other needed expertise.  By contrast, in San Diego California misdemeanor DUI cases, one cannot represent himself or herself; one must have an attorney handle the DUI.  So now in traffic infraction cases, one can hire an attorney or represent himself or herself without posting bail.

A traffic ticket or moving citation usually results in 1 point on one’s record if convicted.  A DUI results in 2 points on one’s record if convicted in California.   A person can get up to 3 points in 1 year without being suspended for negligent operator (excessive points) upon getting a 4th point.

If you want a reasonable & effective attorney to handle your San Diego traffic citation, contact “Ms. Ticket,” Elizabeth Aronson, at, (760) 685-8242.  Ms. Ticket can capitalize on proof problems if the facts & circumstances are right, in order to request an officer to not object to a reduction of charge(s).



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