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Cost of DUI Arrest, Conviction Higher than Most People Realize

Gavel and scale

By Jim Greene

Published
on December 10, 2010

If you drink and drive, even if you’re lucky enough not to cause a car accident, you still risk severe damage to your financial security. Most people are unaware that the cost of being arrested and convicted of driving under the influence can range from nearly $7,000 to nearly $40,000 depending on where you are apprehended and what it takes to deal with the aftermath.

Just being arrested for DUI can cost from $350 to more than $3,600, for bail and for having your vehicle towed and impounded. If you can’t afford to recover your car quickly enough, it may be sold at auction, and you could still owe money if the proceeds don’t cover the impound fee.

Legal Defense of DUI Case Can Reach $25,000

The next expense is legal fees, which can start at $250 just for having an attorney enter a guilty plea, and go as high as $25,000 to defend a plea of not guilty. Besides a qualified attorney, you may need an investigator, to gather information in your defense, and an expert witness, to address the issues surrounding the use of sobriety tests.

If you are convicted of DUI, you’ll have to pay fines, which can range from $300 to $1,200. You may also be sentenced to alcohol education and treatment, for an additional $150 to $2,000. When that’s finished, if the state is willing to reinstate your driver’s license, the fee for that may be as much as $250.

Some jurisdictions have additional penalties, which may include a jail filing fee and payments to various victims’ and law enforcement assistance funds. These could total nearly $250.

DUI Offenders Pay Higher Insurance Rates

When the legal system is finished with you, the insurance industry will take a turn. Your insurance company may raise your premiums, or simply drop your coverage. In the latter case, you may have to turn to a company that specializes in DUI offenders. Of course, because of the high risk potential, the rates will be high. You could pay up to $1,500 more per year for three to five years, assuming a spotless driving record.

There are other penalties that are hard to put a price on, such as lost wages, a ruined reputation, and even the possibility of lost career opportunities.

If you’re arrested for drunk driving, contact an experienced DUI attorney. The cost of legal fees to defend yourself may be more than paying the initial penalties for pleading guilty, but the chances are that it will be less than the cost to your future if you are convicted.

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