Data from 2016 shows that 10,497 people were killed in drunk driving incidents in the United States. On average, about 29 people in the country die in crashes involving alcohol-impaired driving. That equates to one drunk-driving-related death every 50 minutes.
The sheer danger and human cost of drunk driving has led to drastic responses from state and federal governments. This includes enforcement of 0.08 BAC legal limits, the use of car breathalyzers, and growing penalties to punish impaired drivers and discourage drivers from ever driving drunk in the first place.
As money makes the world go ‘round, the most common punishments for driving under the influence involve fines, fees, and other monetary penalties. Let’s take a look at how much a DUI could cost.
DUI Penalty Costs
You may be wondering exactly what happens when you get a dui. The answer can vary from person to person and from state to start. From court and legal fees to penalty fines, DUI costs can easily add up, leading to some exorbitant costs. Data suggests that the national average cost of a DUI is about $10,000. The exact fines and fees for a DUI can vary widely based on state laws, the severity of your crime, and any previous DUI convictions on your record.
The costs the go into a DUI can include:
Most DUI laws require some time spent in prison. While some states allow you to be released on your own recognizance, others may require you to post bail or bond, which is essentially cash paid to the courts in exchange for your release. On average, bail for a DUI costs about $500. In some jurisdictions, bail could be as low as $100, while others may require upwards of $2,500.
The cost for a DUI attorney or lawyer varies, but even for the simplest cases, you can expect to pay at least $1,000. You can potentially mitigate your attorney’s bill if you qualify for diversion programs. These programs are usually only available to first-time offenders, but they allow you to essentially avoid conviction charges as long as you take part in some sort of rehabilitation program, like a drug and alcohol education class or community service. However, some states will require a treatment program regardless. Lawyer costs can be exponentially more if your case goes to trial.
Court and Legal Fees
Your attorney’s bill does not include all the fees required by the court for filing paperwork and all the mandatory court appearances. Courts can incur fees of $200 to $2,000.
For a first-time DUI offender, your fines can range from $390 to $1,000. Drivers with a previous conviction record can expect fines that are three times that amount.
Towing and Impoundment
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, your car can’t just be left at the side of the road. After your arrest, the officer will contact a tow truck and have your car impounded. On average, that will cost about $215.
Although diversion programs can help you avoid some fees and a mark on your record, they don’t come for free. If you need to enroll in a drug and alcohol class or undergo evaluation and treatment, you have to pay for it all out of your own pocket. The cost of diversion programs can vary. You can expect to pay at least $300.
Ignition Interlock Device Fees
Many states have adopted interlock device laws requiring the installation of an ignition interlock device, even for first offenses. Ignition interlock devices require an initial installation fee of about $150 on average, along with a monthly fee of $50 for maintenance, calibration, and reporting. At the end of the IID period, you also have to pay a removal fee.
License Reinstatement Fee
Every DUI conviction usually involves a license suspension or revocation. At the end of your suspension period, the court doesn’t simply hand you back your license. You are required to pay a license reinstatement fee and potentially take a driver’s test again. This reinstatement fee varies from state to state. In California, the fee is $125, while Minnesota has a fee of $680 to reissue a license after an alcohol-related suspension.
You will likely have to spend some time in jail and in court, and you may have trouble getting to work if your license has been suspended. This inevitably means you’ll spend less time at work, which equates to lost wages.
After a DUI, you can expect a huge jump in your car insurance rates that will likely stay high for a few years even after you have fulfilled any court penalties and programs. You can expect rates to double after a DUI. You may also be required to file an SR-22 form, which essentially certifies that you have the minimum amount of liability insurance. Filing these forms naturally costs a fee.
As you can see, costs for committing a DUI can quickly add up. None of this even includes the potential repairs your car may need if your DUI involved a crash. The best way to avoid paying all these costs is to avoid committing a DUI in the first place. Whether you have a designated driver or a favorite cab company, always plan ahead if you think you’ll be drinking.