The Cost of a DUI: More Than Money


Anyone can tell you that the cost of being charged with Driving Under the Influence is significantly higher than a taxicab ride. It’s not worth the risk, as many know, the costs alone can be life-altering, before even taking into account loss of job or reputation, lawyer costs, and countless other unforeseen circumstances that go hand in hand with a DUI or OVI.

While it won’t be the same case for every charge or in every state, the average cost of being charged with this crime, including arrest and conviction, can be anywhere from $13,000 to $27,000, give or take. These numbers take into account all of the financial charges that go into the actual arrest itself, court-mandates such as a Low Cost Interlock install, and onward to license reinstatement.

To begin with, bail, towing, and impound will be the first costs that one charged with a DUI will incur. These will all vary, particularly the variance of bail based on the person’s past crimes, concurrent crimes, or the extremity of the arrest (such as if the person has an extremely high blood alcohol content or if there is an accident). Bail typically ranges, based on these factors, from $150 to 2,500. Towing and impound typically add on to this at a smaller scale, at $100 to $1,200. If convicted, the person will likely be charged a fee for the chemical test, or breathalyzer, done on the field, which can cost another $100.

After the initial arrest, court and sentencing carry their own addition to the quickly-growing price tag. Between court fees and sentencing, one can pay an average of another $2,000; which is nothing, compared to the range that a defense attorney can cost. Hiring someone to represent a person convicted of this crime can cost anywhere in or near the ballpark of $2,500 to $5,000. When you add on to this paying for jail fee and jail time (yes, this is real), which together can be roughly $330 to $400, our total is now, at the low end, around $3,000; or, upwards of $12,000.

These are just the beginning. After court, jail, and sentencing, a whole new set of problems will arise. Criminals with this charge lose their license, so there is the matter of possible lost wages and alternate transportation. Lost wages can vary so greatly from person to person, they have not even been accounted for in the grand total of $13,000 to $27,000 stated earlier. Alternate transportation, on the other hand, can be around $100 for the time if one is very lucky, but can typically cost up to $1,000 for the overall time.

Between license reinstatement, licensing bills, one can pay anywhere from $170 to $250. On many occasions, the sentence is required to have a car interlock device that prevents their vehicle from turning on without a breathalyzer test. These can run anywhere from $500 to $1,500, and come out of the pocket of the person charged with the crime.

After reinstatement of the license and the sentenced person is able to drive again, insurance premiums are always raised and can account for an additional $4,500 to $10,000 depending on the person and the situation. He or she is also frequently subject to community service, treatment, and probation. The service fee can be as little as $60 but the time itself can also contribute to lost wages. Probation supervision adds to the tally another $500 to $1,200. The treatment can include classes, rehab, meetings, and any form of alcohol education, adding on an additional $1,000 minimum or $2,500 maximum.

Again, these are approximations that can vary by state, person, and severity – among countless other factors. Even at the lowest end of these, the cost of this crime can do irreparable damage to a life.

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