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The Real Cost of a DUI

Updated on March 15, 2023 → Under

Drunk driving is a mistake you don't want to make. Even if the law enforcement officers arrest you before you get in drunk driving crashes, being charged with a DUI can derail your life. The real cost of a DUI can be staggering, you may be subject to license suspension, jail time—up to a year for a first-time DUI offense in some states — and pay thousands of dollars in legal costs and fines. Also, your auto insurance rates could skyrocket, with the higher auto insurance premium costing tens of thousands of dollars.

If you have been in drunk driving accidents in Illinois, it's essential to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you. At Dohman Law Group, our criminal defense attorneys have helped thousands of DUI offenders in Waukegan, Lombard, Aurora, Rolling Meadows, Elgin, and throughout Illinois beat their DUI charges. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our seasoned DuPage County DUI lawyers today at 847-616-9993.

What's A DUI and What Does it Mean For You?

Despite the overwhelming alcohol-impaired driving risks, in 2018, the FBI reports more than 1 million people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That’s 9.7% of all drunk driving arrests annually. This typically means that the drunk driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 — the federal cutoff for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). 

Can I be arrested for a lower blood alcohol concentration? Yes. Some drunk driving charges often go to commercial drivers for a blood alcohol level of 0.04, and under "zero tolerance" laws, underage drivers can be arrested for a BAC of 0.02 or less in many states. Also, a drunk driver may be arrested if they have a BAC of less than 0.08 but are drifting across traffic lanes, weaving, or showing other signs of impairment. In most states, you can also get charged with a DUI for driving under the influence of drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana.

Most DUI offenders have never been involved in alcohol-related crashes, but their decision to drink and drive can have a significant impact on their lives. An intoxicated driving charge is one of the worst things you can have on your driving record, and it's guaranteed to increase your car insurance premiums.

The Real Cost of a DUI

Drunk driving is a significant concern to the insurance industry. Because many alcohol-related accidents—even when there's no fatality — involve significant personal injury and property damage. Bodily injury costs are especially concerning because it costs a lot more for a person to recover fully from their injuries than it does to repair a car.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2008 and 2017 drunk driving fatalities declined by 7%, thanks to increased enforcement, public awareness, and the use of safety belts.

What is the Average Cost of a DWI or DUI in the USA?

A drunk driving conviction can have significant financial impacts on your life. As the costs of increased insurance policy rates, lost productivity, and court fees add up, being charged with a drunk driving offense in most states is quite costly. The cost of alcohol-related charges varies from situation to situation and state to state. 

As a general estimation of expenses you may incur after an initial DUI offense, expect the costs outlined below. However, it's imperative to note that the figures quoted in this article are simply estimations based on many reports. The actual costs incurred following a DUI could vary, depending on many situational factors.

  • Bail bonds fees could vary from $100 to $2,500. After a drunk driving arrest, expect to be jailed initially.
  • Impound fees and car towing fees can vary significantly; as a rough estimation, expect $100-$1,200.
  • Attorney fees can also vary significantly. Typically, first-time offenders should expect attorney fees to run in the neighborhood of $1,500-$5,000, even if the defendant opts to use a public defender. Expect these figures to double for subsequent offenses.
  • Also, there are fines assessed on the individual. These can vary significantly, too. A first-time DUI offender can expect to pay between $150-$1,800.
  • Besides the fines assessed by the court, you'll incur other charges, including fees for probation ($200-$1,200), fees for spending time in jail ($10-$300), and fees for sentencing ($100-$250).
  • DUI offenders who have to take random drugs or urine testing as a condition of probation or bail are charged for these services. These fees vary significantly and are often over $100.
  • Sometimes, when a DUI offender must perform community service, he or she must pay a fee associated with community service supervision. This fee is typically under $100 but could be much higher.
  • Some states also impose driver responsibility fees, which are separate fees paid to the state when a person is convicted of a DUI offense. These fees range between $1,000 and $2,500 depending on the state the offense was committed in. These fees are in addition to hefty fines and court costs.
  • Almost everyone convicted of a drunk driving offense will most probably be required to attend some form of alcohol treatment or education classes on alcohol abuse. The fees associated with alcohol evaluation and treatment vary greatly, and substance abuse education classes are fairly expensive. You could incur at least $1,000-$3,000 for alcohol treatment and/or education classes. This cost could be significantly higher, depending on the program you choose.
  • Nowadays, most states require even first-time DUI offenders to have their cars fitted with a blood alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID). The cost of installing an ignition interlock device in your car is quite high and typically ranges between $500 and $1,500.
  • License reinstatement fees range between $20 and $200.
  • Many DUI offenders will need to find alternate methods of transportation during this process. Thus, after a DUI charge you may end up using rideshare service, taxicabs, buses, or paying others for their gas. Typically, this expense varies greatly, but you should expect to incur anywhere between $100 and $1,000.
  • Insurance companies consider DUI offenders to be high-risk drivers. Thus, auto insurance rates will skyrocket once you're convicted of a DUI offense. Expect insurance company fees to range between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on your case, and the insurance company.

From the above information, expect a first-time DUI offense to cost anywhere between $10,000 and $25,000 or more. It's essential to note that these rough estimates don't include potential financial losses resulting from time away from work or lost productivity. These estimates exclude complications, such as additional expenses that you may incur because of property damage, a motor vehicle accident, or a personal injury to someone because of an alcohol-related accident. Thus, the sky is the limit concerning the potential financial burden after a DUI charge.

The Real Cost of a DUI - Infographic

The reason drunk driving offenses are financially draining is the obvious danger that's present whenever a driver is driving under the influence of liquor, and the need to discourage individuals from drinking and driving. However, NHTSA estimates that millions of drivers operate motor vehicles while intoxicated, and on average, a driver who is stopped at a sobriety checkpoint for their first DUI has probably driven while intoxicated at least 80 times.

What Are Other Costs of a DUI Conviction?

Auto accident victims who are injured by drunk drivers can file a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois’s civil courts. If a drunk driver who injures another person was operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of above 0.08%, which is the legal limit–that evidence can be presented in a personal injury trial. A DUI conviction is powerful evidence in a personal injury case. It’s conceivable sometimes that a drunk driver could be ordered to pay the injured party thousands of dollars their insurance company may not cover.

Review your case with our DUI attorneys

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol doesn't discriminate. Those in Chicago who hold professional licenses could face a genuine threat to their careers if they're convicted of drunk driving. Licensing boards have genuine reasons to protect their professions from addiction and alcoholism. A convicted DUI offender must persuade a licensing board that his or her DUI conviction was an isolated incident and not a sign of the offender’s ethics and character.

After a first DUI conviction, some licensing boards require an individual to seek medical treatment or counseling before a professional license is reinstated. However, subsequent DUI convictions typically mean that a professional license will be revoked permanently.

Getting a DUI conviction is devastating, especially if it's your first-time offense. You may be terrified about paying hefty fines or spending time in jail.

If you're facing a first-time DUI in Illinois, it's imperative to keep yourself informed. It's essential to know the facts about what you should expect to pay, and also you should know your legal options.

While you may face hefty fines, you might not have to serve any jail time. If you choose to fight your DUI case with the help of an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney, your charges could be reduced or even dismissed.

Regardless, the experienced DUI attorneys at Dohman Law are here to help. Contact our criminal defense law firm today at 847-616-9993 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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