If you get arrested by law enforcement for driving under the influence (DUI) at a DUI checkpoint or otherwise, one of the first things you'll have to address is how to get out of jail. To get released, you'll have to pay money through bail or a bond.
This article provides a quick overview of the bail and bond process in DUI cases. First, it addresses what bail is and how courts set bail. Next, the article discusses what to do if you can't afford bail.
What Is Bail?
Bail is the process through which you pay money to get out of jail or police custody while awaiting trial. After they've booked you into jail on DUI charges, the next step is arranging your release. One of the main concerns is making sure you appear in court if you're released. In some cases, you can get released on your own recognizance. That means the court trusts you to show up on your own. Other times, the court wants a financial guarantee that you'll appear for your court dates. This is where the bail process comes in.
As a condition of release, you promise to appear in court for all scheduled criminal proceedings. That includes arraignment, preliminary hearings, pre-trial motions, and the actual trial. If you fail to appear in court as expected, you'll be subject to immediate arrest. You will give up any bail amount you paid.
How Is Bail Set?
The amount of bail for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) or DUI charge can be pre-determined through a bail schedule. You may get your release by paying or posting bail immediately after booking. Booking is the process at a jail or police station that creates an official record of your arrest.
Suppose you can't pay bail immediately after booking. In that case, a judge may decide at a separate bail hearing or your arraignment. The judge may then use the bail schedule, or it may set a different monetary figure based on:
- Your DUI record, criminal history, and driving history
- The seriousness of your DUI offense in terms of injury to others
- Your ties to family, community, and employment (which show whether you're likely to appear in court)
You can appeal a bail decision. But bail decisions are rarely changed or overturned.
If You Can't Afford Bail: DUI Bail Bonds and Bond Agencies
You (or your friends and family members) can pay the full bail amount the court sets. Another possibility is to post a bond in place of the total amount. A bond is a written guarantee that you will pay the full bail if you fail to appear in court as promised.
A bond usually comes from a bail bond agency or bail bondsman. A bail bond agent or bondsman typically charges a fee in exchange for posting the bond. This fee is usually about 10 percent of the bail amount. Bail bond agencies may also demand more collateral before posting a bond. This is because the agency has to pay bail if you, as the suspect, "jump bail" and fail to appear as promised.
The penalties for failing to appear as required after release can be severe. Penalties can include a fine, jail time, or both. Federal law says that any term of imprisonment for failure to appear must run consecutively to (at the same time as) any other criminal sentence.
DUI bail bonds can be more expensive than other types of bail bonds. This is due to the nature of the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Get a Better Understanding of DUI Bail and Bonds by Speaking to a Lawyer
Finding yourself in jail on DUI charges can be a frightening experience. If you've experienced a DUI arrest or are facing a possible DUI conviction, speaking with an experienced DUI attorney can be helpful. A defense attorney might even be able to help you get your DUI charges dismissed. A DUI lawyer can craft a criminal defense and educate you on DUI laws.