Perhaps you aren’t aware that drinking and driving is a cash cow for the legal system. Maybe you think that it’s just a slap on the wrist and a few fines and then you’re back to driving again. If that’s what you think, your mind is about to be blown.
According to MSNBC, “A typical DUI costs about $10,000 by the time you pay bail, fines, fees, and insurance, even if you didn’t hit anything or hurt anybody.” That was back in 2011. A new report by the Automobile Club of Southern California says that a first-time DUI conviction in California can cost you as much as $15,649. Are you under 21? If so, the news is worse: You can expect it to cost you $22,492, according to the same report.
Right. That’s a lot more than a slap on the wrist. It’s a full-fisted grab into your bank account, and it’s one that keeps taking and taking. Here’s how some of the costs break down:
- Bail: $150 to $2000.
- Towing: $100 to $300.
- Vehicle Impounding: $100 to $400 depending on the length of impound, and if you don’t retrieve your vehicle in 60 days, it can be sold at auction.
- Insurance Increase: Up to $40,000 over a 13-year span, according to DMV.org. Some of this fee is the required SR-22 certification for the first three years. After that, the costs are from increased premiums as compared to the baseline for your age.
- Legal Fees: Up to $25,000. A competent DUI lawyer is going to cost around $4,000, with higher costs for more experienced and high-profile cases.
- Fines: $390 minimum, up to $3,000. The judge may allow you to do community service or jail time instead of paying part of the fine.
- Alcohol and Driving Classes: $550 and 12 to 45 hours, depending on the judge’s discretion, on the first offense. A second offense carries 18 months of required classes. The cost for the 18-month class is significantly higher and varies depending on the school.
- Monitoring Devices: $300 to $1,200. Generally, first-offenders are not required to wear a monitoring device. If, however, the judge deems it necessary, these devices are available for rent and will cost about $100 a month plus a security deposit of $200 or more.
- Ignition Lock: $100 to $200 plus monthly rental fees of $70 to $100.
- License Reinstatement Fee: $150.
What none of this takes into account is the lost work time that comes with a DUI. In addition to money being siphoned out of your bank account at an alarming rate, you must spend a lot of time in court and attending classes. This is time taken away from your job. So not only are you spending money, but you aren’t making as much, either. In felony cases, your employer may even fire you based on your single DUI conviction.
If you are facing a potential DUI conviction, contact a lawyer specializing in DUI defense right away. Don’t go it alone; you could be costing yourself tens of thousands of dollars.
By Ted Burgess