Interviewer: How much is bail going to be?
Eric Sachs: It depends on by which agency you were arrested. Generally, state police will take the person back to the precinct. They very seldom keep a person overnight for a Driving while intoxicated case. They will issue them a summons. They may ask the person to post station house bail, which could be several hundred dollars. Majority of the time they don’t charge anything. They just instruct the person to come back to court on another day, especially if the person has no prior history. If you are arrested by one of the local municipal police, you spend the night in jail, you see a Judge, and we have seen bail range anywhere from no bail (release on your own recognizance) to tens of thousands of dollars of bail, depending on the severity of the case and the person’s criminal history.
Promise to Appear
Interviewer: What is a promise to appear?
Eric Sachs: It’s called a desk appearance ticket. It looks like the uniform traffic summons and in addition to being charged with the moving violation of whatever it was – speeding or failing to maintain a lane – you’re charged with driving while intoxicated. The return date on that is like a regular traffic violation. If the person is not a flight risk in the opinion of the state police, and if the case doesn’t warrant that they refer to it as an arrest situation of custody, they will issue that person this desk appearance ticket, which informs them that they need to come to court on another day in the future. Failure to appear will have a warrant issued for their arrest. Then, if and when they are picked up in the future, there will be a bail situation.
Interviewer: What about for the DMV hearings – if someone loses that is there some sort of fee for that as well?
Eric Sachs: Yes. The DMV has what they call a New York Safe Driver Assessment fee. If the person loses the DMV hearing and the DMV has a finding that the person voluntarily and knowingly refused to submit to a chemical test, then there will be fees that are imposed on the driver for that. The Safe Driver Assessment fee will be in addition. It starts at $750; it’s payable over three years and you can’t get your license back until you make your payments. So they hold your license as hostage until you make these payments.
Insurance & Accidents
Interviewer: Another factor in the cost of DUI was insurance coverage. How much can I expect to pay for insurance?
Eric Sachs: We start with the easy ones; if the person is involved in the car accident and the insurance claim is made, either for property damage or bodily injury or both, and the insurance company is involved, the first problem that the person has to worry about is if the insurance company will give them coverage. All insurance policies have a disclaimer in the end that if you’re involved in an alcohol-related event, then the insurance company can disclaim. So now the person runs the risk of having no insurance coverage. Now, if they get sued for property damage or personal injury that can subject them to other out-of-pocket expenses. Then the insurance rates of course could go up. If there is no car accident, the insurance companies nowadays, through the Multistate compact, will learn of the arrest and they decide whether or not they wish to increase the monthly payment or the amount of coverage that you pay for your insurance coverage. I would suspect that most insurance companies would take every opportunity to charge more money from the motorist.
Interviewer: What if an accident occurred? How does that affect the cost and how much do you see that as a cost of DUI?
Eric Sachs: It depends on the severity of the car accident and whether or not there are injuries. For instance, in Nassau County if there’s an allegation of a car accident – even the slightest touching of two cars – there will not be a plea bargain. There won’t be an offer relayed and the person openly has to fight or plead guilty to the charge. Of course if it’s the higher charge then the fines are higher. The Judge can take a look at the circumstances of the car accident – one car accident, multi-car accident, personal injuries involved – and the court has that range that we discussed. The court can sentence somebody to the minimum or the maximum or anywhere in between. So that’s a big factor there and of course the insurance company can change its rates that now you’re a bigger risk. If you’ve been involved in an alcohol-related car accident, the insurance company can raise its rates that you pay for your coverage.
By Eric Sachs