Understand potential DWI costs and fees
Court costs, fines, bail, bond fees, insurance premiums, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, license reinstatement fees, ignition interlock device fees, civil judgments and more the financial repercussions of a DWI conviction can add up. DUI costs vary by state, but a first offense, without any injury, property damage or other complications, will likely range between $5,000 and $25,000. If you were involved in an accident or are a repeat offender, these figures can increase considerably.
If you have been charged with DWI/DUI, contact a local DWI lawyer who will evaluate the facts and circumstances to determine what DWI/DUI defenses are applicable to your case. Your attorney will move to disqualify evidence if you were the victim of an unlawful DUI stop or search. Even if you were impaired or intoxicated, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain and/or settlement which can greatly reduce the potential costs.
Fines, court costs and other fees vary from state to state but in almost all cases, convicted first time offenders can expect to pay several hundred to several thousand dollars in fines and other court fees. In New Jersey, the fines, fees and surcharges alone for a first time DUI offense could approach $4,000, calculated as follows:
- $250-$400 fine
- $230 Intoxicated Driver Resource Center fee
- $100 to drunk driving fund
- $100 to Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund
- $1,000/year (for 3 years) surcharge
- $75 to Neighborhood Services1
Predictably, costs will increase for more serious offenses for example, DUI/Manslaughter (a 2nd degree felony) in Florida carries a $10,000 fine2. In some cases, participation in drug and alcohol programs may be accepted by the court in lieu of paying fines. You may wish to ask an experienced DWI/DUI attorney to learn more about your options.
Following are some of the most common fees incurred by those charged with driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence:
Bail. If you are arrested and charged with DWI/DUI, you may be released on your own recognizance (no bail required) or the judge may set bail. If the DWI bail cost is not pre-determined by the laws in your jurisdiction, the judge will consider your criminal record, the seriousness of the offense and ties to family, community and employment. For first time offenders who do not cause any harm, bail may be $150 to $2,500. Figures increase in comparison to the severity of the charges. In some jurisdictions, bail is preset at as much as $100,000 for a felony DWI/DUI charge. If you cannot afford to pay, your attorney can help arrange for a bail bondsmen (the fee is usually 10 percent of the total bail cost). An experienced DWI/DUI attorney will fight to have you released on your own recognizance, or failing that to keep bail as low as possible.
License Reinstatement Fee. Most states automatically suspend a driver's license the moment a DWI/DUI arrest occurs or a driver refuses to submit to breath, blood or urine tests. The license is later reinstated or revoked depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. License reinstatement fees start around $100 and increase depending on the jurisdiction and the offense. In Illinois, reinstatement of a suspended license is $250 for a first offense while subsequent offenses and reinstatement of revoked licenses double to $5003. An attorney can best advise you of the fees in your jurisdiction.
Ignition Interlock Devices (IID). Some states require an IID as a condition for reinstatement of a suspended driver's license. An IID analyzes your BAC prior to starting the car and disables the ignition if the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) exceeds a pre-set limit. Installation, leasing and other associated costs can be $1,500 or more. If your license has been suspended and you need your car to go to work, your attorney may be able to get you a restricted license on the condition you install an IID.
DWI/DUI Assessment, Education & Treatment Programs. If your license has been suspended or revoked in relation to a DWI/DUI charge, you will probably be required to undergo assessment, education and/or treatment in order to have your license reinstated. The costs vary quite a bit, but even the most basic treatment will likely be several thousand dollars. Fortunately, in some instances your attorney may be able to negotiate your participation in a drug and alcohol treatment program in lieu of incarceration and fines.
Impoundment & Towing. In many jurisdictions, a vehicle is impounded when a person's license is suspended for a DWI/DUI-related offense such as refusing to submit to chemical testing. To recover the vehicle, the owner usually has to pay several hundred dollars in Utah, for example, the impoundment fee is currently $330.4 In addition, the owner is responsible for towing and storage fees, which can be quite significant. An experienced lawyer may be able to have the vehicle released sooner if the impoundment causes substantial hardship to the family.
Insurance Premiums. Following a DWI/DUI conviction, you will likely be reclassified as high risk by your auto insurance carrier. As a result, your premiums may increase as much as $1,500 to $2,000 per year for three to five years. Other carriers may refuse to insure you altogether, though they usually cannot drop your coverage until the term is over. In certain circumstances, an attorney may be able to get your charge reduced to a non-DWI/DUI offense, which will reduce the likelihood of skyrocketing premiums.
Civil Lawsuits. If you have been involved in a DWI/DUI accident that involves an injury to another person or to property, you may also have to worry about a civil lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, the damages could be significant. However, an experienced DWI/DUI attorney will conduct a full investigation to determine the cause of the accident. Even if you were legally intoxicated, it is quite possible you were not responsible for the accident and won't be liable for damages.
In addition to the direct costs associated with a DWI/DUI conviction, short- and long-term employment prospects may be affected. In the short term, defendants often miss work to attend the trial, and while incarcerated or in rehabilitation. A felony DUI conviction may mean the loss of your professional license and will be disclosed on future employment applications. A qualified DWI/DUI attorney is best equipped to protect your rights and your wallet.
There are several DUI lawyer cost factors that may contribute to the fee you are required to pay your lawyer. DUI attorney cost can vary depending on where you live, the case itself, the cost of hiring expert witnesses and/or investigators, and the type of fee arrangement you agree to with your attorney. Contact a DUI lawyer in your area for more information on DUI lawyer costs.
Ignition interlock devices may be responsible for as much as a 73 percent reduction in re-arrest rates for DWI/DUI.
Source: Centers For Disease Control