Getting arrested for drunk driving is bad enough. It’s a humiliating experience, especially when people learn about your arrest and your mugshot becomes public. But for most DUI offenders, what would hurt the most about their case is the cost that comes with it. A DUI arrest can get very expensive, especially when it involves property damage or injuries to other people. Even when no one was hurt or no property sustained damage, the costs of a DUI—even a first offense—are enough to make your pockets bleed.
How much does a first time DUI cost?
The expenses of a first time DUI may vary depending on the state where the offense was committed and the other circumstances of the case. However, there are so many expenses attached to a DUI that we all can safely assume that the final cost would be very high. Let’s take a closer look at those costs and see how much money a first time DUI offender will have to fork out by the time his or her case gets a resolution.
Bail – A DUI is a bailable offense, and the bail you have to post so you can get out of jail could be somewhere between $150 and $2,500.
Towing and impound – This is likely to happen if you were arrested alone or if you have no sober passenger who can drive your car home safely. Towing and impound costs could range from $100 to $1,200.
DUI attorney and legal expenses – Unless you opt for a public defender or decide to represent yourself in court (which is not a very good idea), you will need the services of a DUI attorney, who may charge you anywhere between $1,200 and $10,000. There are also other legal expenses to be considered such as court fees.
Court-ordered fines – When a court hands down a DUI conviction, offenders can expect stiff fines. The fines vary from state to state, but a first DUI typically carries fines of $150 up to $1,800.
Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) – If you committed DUI in a state that requires first-time offenders to install ignition interlock devices on their cars, you would have to spend around $500-$1,500 to install and maintain the device.
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) fees – DUI laws often include driver’s license and vehicle registration suspensions as penalties for drunk driving. And when the suspension period is over, you will have to pay the fees that the DMV sets for the reinstatement of your license and registration. The fees will likely be in the $100 to $300 range.
DUI programs and courses – Most states include DUI penalties that order offenders to take courses that are designed to help them avoid similar incidents in the future. They are also typically part of the requirements for reinstatement of driving privileges. Generally, these substance abuse education courses and traffic school courses cost offenders $360 on average, although the amount could go higher if the program includes actual treatment for substance abuse.
Higher car insurance rates – A DUI arrest will most certainly make it to your DMV record. When your car insurance provider gets wind of your DUI violation, your insurance premiums will most likely see a sharp increase. Some DUI offenders have to pay $800 more per year, while some have been asked to fork out as much as $6,000 per year in increased car insurance premiums. Once you’re slapped with a DUI, finding a quality car insurance policy at an affordable rate is going to be difficult.
Teen DUIs can cost more
If you think the cost of a first time DUI is high, you will be surprised to learn how much costlier it would be if the offender is underage. Teenage drunk drivers are meted practically the same penalties as adult offenders, but that is not the worst part.
For teenagers who are only starting out in life, the worst part of a DUI conviction is the fact that it will be on their permanent record, which could affect their adult lives in the long run. For example, they will be required to disclose their DUI when applying to a college, which could take that into consideration and eventually deny them acceptance. And when they look for a job, employers are allowed to ask if they have a criminal record, and DUI convicts are also required by law to disclose it. Those with criminal records are going to have a hard time finding gainful employment.
If these are the costs of a first time DUI, you can just imagine how costly subsequent DUI arrests are going to be…
Michelle White currently works as the Marketing & Communications specialist at The Arizona DUI Team. Her experiences with DUI cases in the past have inspired her to spread awareness about DUI laws in the United States.