A common punishment that judges levy against defendants in DUI cases is to make them pay fines. The amount of money you'll be ordered to pay will depend on the severity of your crime. Unfortunately, most people in America are living paycheck to paycheck and can't afford to pay the money. If you're in this position, here are your options for resolving the issue.
Request a Hardship Waiver
One thing you can do is file a request to have the fines waived. Most judges don't want to put defendants in jail over fines, because it would require the state to pay money to incarcerate them. Therefore, the judge may be willing to simply waive the fine if you can adequately prove you don't have the money to pay, and your circumstances are unlikely to change in the near future.
Proving hardship can be challenging, however. It's easier if you receive public assistance, such as welfare, food stamps, and supplementary security income (SSI). These programs are based on your income, and if you're receiving assistance from any of them, it typically means you don't have enough income to support your basic needs.
For those that don't receive any government assistance, you will have to submit financial paperwork showing your income and expenses, and demonstrating why you don't have the cash. If most of your paycheck is taken up by support obligations (e.g., child support or alimony), the court may accept that you're broke and waive the fees.
Be aware, though, that fine waivers are at the discretion of the judge. He or she will typically take several factors into consideration when deciding whether or not to waive the fine. The judge may be less likely to waive fines in a case where someone was injured, for instance. Therefore, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney to determine the likelihood of getting the fines waived before going to the judge.
Ask for Community Service
Sometimes the judge may not be willing to waive the fines in your case, but may let you work them off by performing community service. Essentially, you would work a certain number of community-service hours. Once those hours are complete, the court will waive the fines assigned to you.
Again, the circumstances of your case may dictate whether this option is available to you. For instance, you may not be able to work off your fines if you were already assigned community service in lieu of jail time. Additionally, you must fully complete the hours assigned to you; otherwise, the court won't waive the fines, and you'll have spent your time doing community service for nothing.
For more information or assistance with this issue, contact professionals like the Law Offices of Daniel Aaronson.