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DUI Booking and Bail


After the arrest process, a DUI suspect is usually taken into police custody and "booked" or "processed." During "booking", a police officer typically:

  • Takes the criminal suspect's personal information (i.e., name, date of birth, physical characteristics);
  • Records information about the suspect's alleged crime;
  • Performs a record search of the suspect's criminal background;
  • Fingerprints, photographs, and searches the suspect;
  • Confiscates any personal property carried by the suspect (i.e., keys, purse), to be returned upon the suspect's release; and
  • Places the suspect in a police station holding cell or local jail.

For DUI suspects who are placed in jail, the first priority is usually getting out. A DUI suspect will usually be able to obtain pre-arraignment release through Bail or "Own Recognizance" Release.


Bail is a process through which an arrested DUI suspect is allowed to pay money in exchange for his or her release from police custody, usually after booking. As a condition of release, the suspect promises to appear in court for all scheduled criminal proceedings -- including arraignment, preliminary hearing, pre-trial motions, and the trial itself.

If the DUI suspect is not allowed to post bail at the police station immediately after booking, a judge may decide later, at a separate hearing or the arraignment, whether to allow release on bail. The bail amount may be predetermined, through a "bail schedule," or the judge may set a monetary figure based on:

  • Suspect's DUI record and criminal history;
  • Seriousness of the DUI offense, in terms of injury to others
  • Suspect's ties to family, community, and employment.

If You Cannot Afford Bail -- Bail Bonds and Bond Agencies

A DUI suspect or the suspect's friends and family may put up the full bail amount as set by the court, or a "bond" may be posted in lieu of the full amount. A bond is a written guarantee that the full bail amount will be paid if the suspect fails to appear as promised. Bonds are usually obtained through a bail bond agency that charges a fee for posting of the bond (usually about 10 percent of the bail amount). Bail bond agencies may also demand additional collateral before posting the bond, since the agency will be responsible for paying the full bail amount if the suspect "jumps bail" and fails to appear as promised.

"Own Recognizance" Release

When a DUI suspect is arrested, booked, and granted "own recognizance" release, no bail money needs to be paid to the court, and no bond is posted. The suspect is merely released after promising, in writing, to appear in court for all upcoming proceedings. Most state criminal courts impose certain conditions on own recognizance release, prohibiting the suspect from leaving the area while proceedings are ongoing, or requiring that the suspect contact the court periodically while the case is ongoing.

As when setting bail, a criminal court judge deciding whether to grant own recognizance release considers:

  • Suspect's DUI record and criminal history;
  • Seriousness of the DUI offense, in terms of injury to others
  • Suspect's ties to family, community, and employment.

If a DUI suspect released on "own recognizance" fails to appear in criminal court as scheduled, he or she is subject to immediate arrest, and any chance for bail release is all but eliminated.

Have Questions About DUI Booking and Bail? Speak with an Attorney

If you've just been arrested for a DUI, you'll go through the booking process and be informed of your options to post bail. But after you're released, you'll certainly have your work cut out for you. The best way to understand the law and put together the best defense possible to speak with an experienced DUI attorney near you.

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  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
  • DUI defense attorneys can challenge Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer or blood test results
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate DUI penalties
  • A lawyer can help get your license back

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