Being arrested for drunk driving can be embarrassing, stressful, and costly. A DUI can come with a pretty hefty price tag. In fact, your first DUI can cost upwards of $20,000, and possibly more, depending on the circumstances of your case. If property is damaged or anyone is harmed these costs can easily increase. As states continue to crack down on drunk drivers you can be certain that financial penalties will continue to increase as well. The purpose of financial penalties is to help deter drunk driving. Knowing the consequences and the financial impact a DUI can have will hopefully help make our roadways safer and reduce the volume of DUI related accidents throughout the country.
The Cost of a DUI
While DUI penalties vary depending on the circumstances of the case for the sake of this example we are going to view it from the perspective of a first DUI offense with no injuries and no property damage. If you are arrested for DUI it is not uncommon to pay anywhere between $5,000 and $12,000 with a bulk of that cost typically being the increase in your insurance rates. If you have multiple DUI offense you can expect your insurance rates to increase along with those, by the way. As you can see a DUI conviction can be extremely expensive.
Let’s look at some of the costs typically associated with a DUI:
Court Costs: While fines differ from state to state, county to county, and depending on the circumstances of your case, it is not uncommon to estimate court costs ranging between $250 and $1,500.
Legal Fees: When dealing with a DUI case it is generally in your best interest to seek the counsel of an experienced DUI defense attorney so that you have effective legal representation. However, hiring a lawyer is an additional cost. Lawyer rates vary, however, it would be safe to estimate lawyer fees of approximately $2,000 (or more if your case goes to trial). Meeting with an attorney for an initial consultation is an ideal way to determine what the costs associated with your case are likely to be. Most DUI attorneys offer free initial consultations to confidentially discuss the details of your DUI arrest.
Reinstate a License: The costs associated with reinstating your driver’s license after a DUI vary from state to state. However, you should expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $500 to get your license back after a suspension.
Classes: Depending on the circumstances of your case you may be mandated to take substance abuse, counseling, and/or rehabilitation classes. These classes can increase the costs of a DUI by $500 or more.
Ignition Interlock System: In some situations you may be required to install an ignition interlock system. An ignition interlock device is similar to a breathalyzer test but it is installed on the motor vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle’s motor can be started the driver must exhale into the device to measure the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). If the driver’s BAC is in excess of the allowed amount programmed into the device it prevents the engine from being started. If you are required to install an ignition interlock system you will have to pay an installation fee and a monthly rental fee. These costs can exceed $1,000.
Increased Insurance Costs: Following a DUI your insurance company may categorize you as a high-risk driver. As a result of being labeled as a high-risk driver your insurance rates will increase annually. This categorization may continue for up to three years before your rates start to drop back down. These increased insurance costs can result in thousands of dollars in expenses.
Loss of Income: A DUI can result in loss of income. If you have to spend time in jail, performing community service, attending classes, or making court appearances you will likely have to miss work as a result. Depending on your annual salary this could result in thousands of dollars in missed income.
As you can see, a DUI can be extremely costly. With a first time DUI offense with no injuries and no property damage it’s possible for expenses to exceed $10,000. These numbers may even be on the conservative side, costs can easily increase depending on where you live and the details of your case.