Drunk driving is illegal in every state in the U.S. and, in addition to fines, often carries other severe penalties. Most drunk driving convictions usually lead to, at a minimum, a suspended license. A first time offender should not be surprised if a conviction results in a short jail term (usually a few days). For repeat offenders, most states will also require a device to be installed in the offender’s car that analyzes their breath for alcohol, and prevents it from starting if any is detected.
How Much Will a DUI Cost?
There are also financial penalties for driving drunk. The costs typically associated with a DUI include:
- Court costs
- Attorney’s fees
- Administrative fees for treatment and diversionary programs
- Increased insurance premiums
The fines vary from state to state. For instance, the minimum fine in Colorado for a first offender is only $300 compared to $1,200 in Illinois. In most states, a first offender should expect to pay something in the middle of that range, usually around $1,000.
Fines, however, are a relatively small part of the overall cost of a DUI when bail, increased insurance premiums, legal fees, and mandatory alcohol treatment are taken into account. One expert has estimated that a single DUI can cost a person, on average, $10,000.
What Are the Long Term Consequences?
There are many long-term effects that may increase the total cost of a DUI. These are somewhat abstract, so people may not consider them when they are making the decision to get behind the wheel. These consequences remain very serious nonetheless.
For example, time in court or jail can cut into time that a person might otherwise spend working. If the offender has to drive to work, they will have to arrange some other form of transportation, such as a taxi service or public transit, which may cost money. If the offender drives for a living, he or she is effectively out of a job while their license is suspended.
Furthermore, a DUI lingers on a criminal record, which is often checked by employers. This could make it more difficult to get a job, which could have immeasurable financial costs in the long run.
Do I Need to Contact an Attorney?
An experienced DUI/DWI lawyer should be quickly consulted if you are facing a DUI/DWI charge. The applicable laws regarding DUI/DWI offenses vary by state, and contacting an attorney may help you avoid an otherwise devastating financial situation.