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San Diego Drunk Driving Arrest: Posting Bail

After making an arrest for driving under the influence, the officer often takes the suspect to jail to be booked. In most DUI cases, the defendant is told the amount of bail that can be posted in order to get out of jail. The amount of bail depends on the crime and the county bail schedule.

Bail can be posted by paying the entire amount in cash to the court clerk or to the arresting agency. At the end of the case, if the person made all their court appearances, the money is refunded in full. If the defendant failed to appear, FTA, the money is forfeited and the court keeps the full amount of the cash bail.

Most often, instead of paying cash, defendants use a bail bondsman or bail agent to obtain a bail bond. The bondsman posts the required bail for the defendant after receiving a non-refundable premium, and sometimes additional collateral. Under California law, the maximum the bondsman can charge is 10% of the bail. Typically, the bond contract lasts one year. If the case remains unresolved after a year, the defendant will have to pay to renew the contract.

If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bail is forfeited and a warrant may be issued for the person’s arrest. The bondsman will seek reimbursement from the defendant and their cosigner. In addition, the bondsman is obligated to find and arrest the person and bring them before the court.

Bail in a typical first misdemeanor DUI case, without any additional charges, is $2,500 in San Diego County. On a second misdemeanor drunk driving matter, bail is often set at $10,000. Bail on a third misdemeanor DUI goes up to $15,000. If there were injuries, the bail is $20,000. In felony driving under the influence cases that involves the death of another bail is often set at $100,000.

Ultimately, the judge has discretion in setting the bail amount. The amount can be increased, reduced, or the person may even be released on their own recognizance (promise to appear). When making a ruling on bail, the judge considers the defendant’s criminal history, flight risk, ties to the community, and the facts of the case.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for drunk driving, immediately contact a criminal defense attorney who specifically handles DUI cases. It is always best to get legal advice as early as possible in the case to ensure all your rights are protected.

The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.


The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman offers a free telephone consultation. If you have a pending drunk driving charge, contact our office at 619-260-1122, or use the “Contact Us” form on this page.