If a driver is suspected of committing a DUI offence, they will normally be arrested, booked and then placed in a prison or police holding cell until they are brought before a judge for an arraignment or any other court proceedings.
The stress and strain of facing these charges can be enough, without the addition of dealing with it from behind bars. Most people in that situation would rather handle their case from the comfort of their own home, surrounded by their support network of friends and family. Thus, jail time before a trial or court hearing can be avoided, if a bail amount is set for the offender to pay.
What Is Bail? What Does It Involve?
Bail is a legal process whereby a DUI suspect, friend or family member can pay a sum of money in exchange for their release from the prison or holding cell until his DUI court proceedings have finished.
This money is dealt with in the same way as a deposit. This means it would be reimbursed after the court case has finished. It does, however, come with very strict guidelines that the suspect must pay attention to and follow exactly to the letter. They will be expected to appear at all forthcoming proceedings concerning the case, without fail. As well as the actual trial, this includes: pre-trial motions, preliminary hearings and arraignments.
If the offender misses even one of these, they will be arrested immediately and lose the bail money they have already paid. So an offender shouldn’t see a bail release as a free ticket to escape or to behave however they want to.
What Is An “Own Recognizance” Release?
There are some situations where a DUI offender is arrested, booked and given an “own recognizance” release. This is a written guarantee that they will appear at all future court proceedings, without fail as with a bail agreement. Normally there are additional requirements for own recognizance releases.
These include: The offender not being allowed to leave the area while court proceedings are in process as well as keeping contact with the court while the proceedings are on-going. If the suspect breaks this promise, and fails to attend even just one of his court appearances, he will be arrested.
How Is The Bail Amount Decided?
Whether bail is set immediately after arrest and booking or at a separate hearing or arraignment, the judge will set the amount based either on a pre-set amount, calculated through a bail schedule or it will be worked out based on specific criteria. This criteria includes: The offender’s employment, community and family ties; How serious the injuries and damages caused by the DUI offence were and the offender’s criminal history and previous DUI record.
Is Bail Less For A First Time Offender And More For Repeat Offenders?
As with DUI penalty fines, the amounts will vary and the court could go easier on a first time offender. A first time offender may only have to pay between $150 and $2500, whereas for repeat offenders the bail amount set could be a steep bail amount as well as the other harsh penalties connected, such as jail time and licence suspension. For a Felony DUI charge, the bail amount set could be as high as $100,000.
What Is A Bail Bond Agency?
If a DUI offender or their friends or family can’t afford to pay the full bail amount, a bond may be posted instead. This is normally given by a Bail Bond agency, who post a posts bail on behalf of the suspect, charging a fee of around 10% of the Bail amount. The bail bond agency will also add additional collateral before posting bail.
This is to cover their own backs, because it is the agency that will be responsible, not the offender, for paying the full amount if they “jump bail”.
So, if you can afford bail or are granted an “own recognizance release” the only thing you need to worry about is making sure you contact or appear at the court when you are required. If you can’t afford it and have to go through a bail bond agency, then it is even more vital that you do not miss any hearings or proceedings you are required to attend. You could end up with worse off than if you just faced the music.