The High Cost of a DUI
If the shame and hassle of a drunk driving arrest and conviction aren’t bad enough, a DUI comes with a hefty price tag, too. Your first DUI can cost upwards of $20,000 – and more – even without property damage or anyone harmed. The Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that the total expense of an initial DUI or DWI arrest and conviction costs the equivalent of a taxi ride half-way around the world.
The purpose of financial penalties for DUI offenses is to deter drunk driving, and little wonder why. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes every day, and roughly one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash during their lifetimes.
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The High Price of Driving Under the Influence
A myriad of expenses typically associated with a DUI conviction include bail, car towing or impound costs, court costs, legal fees, DUI education programs, higher insurance premiums, probation fees, drug and alcohol assessment and counseling, license reinstatement fees, and loss of work income. And that’s the short list.
In addition, many states now require DUI offenders to install pricey ignition interlock devices, which connect to a car’s ignition and monitor drivers’ BAC levels. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start and may even trigger security alarms.
In addition, many states now require DUI offenders to install pricey ignition interlock devices, which connect to a car’s ignition and monitor drivers’ BAC levels. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start and may even trigger security alarms. (For those who have been convicted of DUI, this is a great reason to get a BACtrack–in order to test yourself before using the interlock ignition system). Some states also require DUI offenders to wear ankle bracelets that measure BAC – at the offenders’ expense.
Hidden DUI Costs
Other DUI costs are not as obvious. In all 50 states, DUI offenders temporarily lose their driving privileges. As a result, they must rely on alternate methods of transportation, which can quickly run up the DUI tab. Driver’s license reinstatement fees must also be paid before full driving privileges are restored. A DUI conviction can also lead to the loss of a job, especially if the job requires driving a motor vehicle. The conviction may remain on the offender’s record for 10 years. During the years following a drunk driving conviction, a DUI offender’s car insurance can double, triple, or even quadruple. Some insurance companies move DUI offenders to higher-risk, higher-cost policies, and may even cancel coverage.
DUI Costs Vary by State
The cost of a DUI conviction varies by state, but in every state the cost runs into the thousands of dollars. In New York, for example, the estimated minimum cost for a first DUI conviction is $9,500. The state of Illinois estimates the average DUI cost at $14,660.
A DUI conviction can also lead to the loss of a job, especially if the job requires driving a motor vehicle. The conviction may remain on the offender’s record for 10 years.
A survey by the Texas Department of Transportation found that the average cost for a DWI arrest and conviction ranges from $9,000 to $24,000.
More Expensive for Teens
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drivers aged 15 to 19 are four times more likely to get into auto accidents than drivers in any other age category. As a result, the financial impact of a teen’s first DUI is staggering. According to StopteenDUI.com, the total cost of annual auto insurance increases due to a DUI conviction for a teen driver could amount to $40,000 over a 13-year period.
Average Costs of a DUI or DWI Arrest and Conviction
Shown below is a list of typical expenses associated with first-time DUI offenses, and average costs and penalties. The fees and fines can be significantly higher for repeat DUI offenders, drunk drivers with extreme BAC levels, or drivers who are charged with any number of “aggravating” factors, such as an auto accident in which property damage or injuries to human life occurred.
|Towing and Impound||$100–$1,200|
|Higher Insurance Premiums||$4,500-$10,000|
|Chemical Testing Fee||$90|
|Ignition Interlock Device||$500-$1,500|
|Community Service Supervision Fee||$60|
Note: These fees do not include hospital care for injured persons, emotional recovery costs, damaged job and career prospects, or lawsuit awards resulting from a death, which would likely be in the millions of dollars.
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