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How to Avoid Posting Bail in California Criminal/DUI Cases

How to Avoid Posting Bail

Not everyone has to post bail in order to secure their pre-trial release from custody. Just yesterday I walked a woman into court after a warrant was issued for her arrest. She was charged with DUI with a prior, a special allegation of having a blood alcohol concentration over .20, one out of time prior (over 10 years old) and she was the cause of a three car traffic accident. The amount of the warrant was $60,000.

The client wanted to walk into the nearest police station and post bail. That would have cost her at least $4,800 and still wouldn’t ensure that she would stay out of jail when she went back to see the judge a few weeks later.

So how do we know when is the right time to post bail? How do we know if we should just and see the judge? The best answer is, ask your lawyer. A competent lawyer, especially one who is well versed in criminal law/DUI and familiar with the court may know the answer to the question.

In my DUI scenario, I walked my client into court, the judge wanted bail posted or the SCRAM device installed. My client opted for the SCRAM device and was released from court on her promise to return after the SCRAM was installed.

The SCRAM device is an ankle bracelet that randomly tests the skin for alcohol. It is worn 24 hours a day/7 days a week and is kept on until the judge orders otherwise. In our case, my client will wear the ankle bracelet until her pre-trial conference next month. It will cost her $120 per week and will likely come off when her case is resolved. Doing the math, this may have just saved her over $4,000. That’s almost the cost of a decent lawyer.

There are other means to avoid bail as well. Some people don’t like the SCRAM device. Some people say it hurts; it’s embarrassing or cumbersome and costly. There is new technology which could adequately replace the SCRAM. We call it BART. It is a handheld breathalyzer which randomly requires breath tests of the subject. It has GPS tracking and actually takes a picture of the subject as they take the breath test. It is small enough to fit into a small purse or brief case and can easily be hidden from co-workers and family members.

Other than technology there are some simple means to avoid having to post bail. This article seems to be slanted toward DUI but that is just one area of the law. In DUI cases I often counsel my clients to begin AA meetings and keep a sign in sheet before we go back to court. Some clients might opt for starting residential or outpatient rehabilitation prior to court. The same logic would apply to certain drug cases.

In battery cases or other cases involving some type of violence I often suggest my clients seek out a therapist or start anger management classes prior to court.

Clients often ask if this is not some sort of admission of guilt. The answer is clearly, “No”. Remember, when a judge sets bail, she assumes the charges in the complaint are true and is working from that starting point. If we assume the allegations are true, self-help like AA, NA or counseling is often viewed very favorably by judges and prosecutors. Besides, many of us might even benefit from anger management counseling or seeing a family therapist. Why not try and turn lemons into lemonade.

There are some situations where bail is unavoidable. These are often very serious offenses, offenses with prior convictions or where the client may have a history of failing to appear in court. If this is the case, talk to your lawyer about posting bail, when to post bail as well as the costs of bail and possible alternatives to bail.

If you have questions about bail, criminal defense or DUI, call me:

Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or

Email me at: or visit my sites for more info: or