Bail for DUI in Los Angeles County

The local rules for paying bail after a drunk driving arrest

Bail—the money you must pay to the court to ensure that you will show up at all required court appearances—is typically paid at arraignment or soon afterwards. If you’re arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles County, you will be booked and held in jail until you post bail. In some cases the judicial officer might waive payment of bail on the condition that you appear in court when required (released on one's "own recognizance" or “OR”). Occasionally, a defendant can be denied bail and forced to remain in jail (for example, when a felony DUI resulted in serious personal injury and the judicial officer believes the defendant poses a “flight risk”).

What is the bail for a DUI in Los Angeles County?

The Los Angeles County bail schedule sets the following guidelines for bail:



Driving under influence of alcohol or drugs

1st Offense


2d Offense within 10 years


3d or More DUI offense within 10 years


If DUI included one of the following:

  • Traffic collision
  • BAC greater than .15%
  • Refusal to Consent

Add $10,000 to bail amount (above)

If DUI included any combination of the following:

  • Traffic collision
  • BAC greater than .15%
  • Refusal to Consent

Add $25,000 to bail amount (above)

Driving under influence with .08% BAC causing injury


Driving under influence with .08% BAC causing injury and one similar prior conviction


Driving under influence with BAC greater than .15% causing injury

Add $10,000 to bail amount (above)

Increasing or reducing bail

Keep in mind that these sums are not fixed. The judicial officer before which you appear can increase the bail if convinced that you are likely to flee (for example, if you failed to show up in court in the past), or can decrease it if your defense attorney shows that you are unlikely to run (for example, you have strong ties to the community by way of a steady job and a family). In Los Angeles, if you are booked for or charged with two or more misdemeanor offenses, bail is the amount computed for the charge having the highest bail except where the offenses are committed against separate victims.

In today’s anti-drunk-driving climate, it is often a challenge to convince the judicial officer in Los Angeles County to reduce bail from the amount established in the schedule. However, you are more likely to see bail reduced (or waived—OR status) if it is a first offense without a collision or injury, a borderline BAC (close to .08%), and you have ties to community, a steady job, no previous record, and family members living nearby. You may have better luck reducing bail if you seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in DUI defense in the Los Angeles County area.

Paying bail

You must either

  • pay the full bail amount,
  • submit property equal in value to the bail,
  • post a bond guaranteeing payment (arranged by a bail bonds agency) or
  • have bail waived because you will be released on your own recognizance.

If you paid bail, then after you shown up for all required court appearances, your bail is refunded minus a small administrative fee.

Bail bonds

Many people of limited means, choose to use a bail bond agency that submits a bond to the court agreeing to pay the full bail amount if you fail to show up for any required appearances. This is done in return for payment of a nonrefundable fee (in California, the fee is limited to 10%). Most bail bonds accept credit cards and usually require payment prior to posting of the bond. In some cases, the bail bonds agency acquires an interest (as collateral) in your property. In summary, a bail bonds agency may provide, an essential though expensive lifeline.


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