Here’s How Much a DUI Will Cost You

Here’s How Much a DUI Will Cost You

Celebrity trivia: What do Nicole Richie, Kiefer Sutherland, Tracy Morgan, Mel Gibson and Tiger Woods have in common?

Answer: They’ve all been arrested on driving under the influence (DUI) charges.

In this case they are part of a club — and not an exclusive or elite one, at that. Some 1.5 million Americans are arrested each year for DUI.

Collectively, deaths and damage from DUI violations cost the nation some $52 billion annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The celebs listed above were unlucky in that their arrests made front-page news, damaging their reputations. But they were fortunate, too. First, no one was injured or killed as a result of their actions. And, of course, they likely didn’t suffer much financial hardship covering the fines and legal expenses rung up by their behavior.

For most of us, the cost of a first-time DUI, which typically runs $7,500 to $10,000, is serious money. That’s not counting the cost of any property damage or bodily harm that you and/or your insurance company will need to cover — and comes on top of the trouble a DUI arrest can visit on our personal and professional lives.

Here’s how it works:

Cases of DUI (or DWI — driving while intoxicated) are treated differently in each state, reported FindLaw. Some states have mandatory penalties — both administrative and criminal — for first-time offenders. Other states allow judges wide discretion when imposing penalties.

Some of the possible actions, depending on the state, include: confiscation of the driver’s car, mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices (like a breathalizer that prevents the car from starting if the driver has been drinking) at the driver’s expense, mandatory alcohol education, treatment, and/or assessment and suspension or revocation of the driver’s license.

Judges generally have discretionary power on setting fines, jail time, community service and other penalties.

OneDUI Insurance has an interactive map with a breakdown of average costs in each state.

State-by-state view

Driving while impaired in Arizona? This is an especially bad idea, because according to the NHTSA, the Southwestern state carries the harshest penalties for the violation. First-time offenders get a minimum jail term of 10 days, have their vehicle impounded and must install an ignition interlock device, according to NHTSA. Other states that come down hardest for a DUI are Alaska, Connecticut and West Virginia, according to analysis by Guardian Interlock.

South Dakota is on the lenient end. If you are hit with a DUI in the “Mount Rushmore State” there is no minimum jail time for the first and second offenses, according to Guardian Interlock’s analysis. The third time, and you’re out — facing a felony. But the state does not suspend licenses or require mandatory ignition interlock devices, the company said. Other relatively lenient jurisdictions are the District of Columbia, North Dakota and Montana.

Though there are regional differences in various penalties and fees associated with a DUI arrest, nowhere is it cheap. Follows are median costs for a DUI in the United States, according to OneDUI Insurance:

Total cost of a first-time DUI: $7,772 to $10,172

Minimum fine: $400

Penalty assessment: $600

State restitution fund: $100

Alcohol abuse education fund: $50

Blood/breath testing fee: $37

Jail cite and release fee: $10

Driving alcohol school: $375

License reissue fee: $100

Attorney fee: $2,500

Auto insurance increase: $3,600 to $6,000

A DUI on your record could also cause longer-term damage to your financial standing. You could lose your job for an array of related reasons, as explained by California-based lawyer Randy Collins. Among them: If your arrest goes in the newspaper or otherwise damages your company’s reputation or your position at the company (think social media buzz), your job may be on the line. If your job involves driving, and now you can’t, you may quickly find that you need to change careers, according to Collins. And some companies have rules in place that mandate firing an employee who is arrested for DUI, he says.

We all know that driving under the influence is dangerous, but sometimes we forget the real and irreversible consequences if things go wrong. If you kill or hurt someone you face a lifetime of regret and shame. If that isn’t enough to discourage you from driving while impaired, maybe the risk to your bank account will. As you enjoy your summer barbecues, graduation parties and weddings, be sure to help keep the roads safe, and don’t risk the trauma to your finances.

What is your solution for getting home when you’re out somewhere and have been imbibing? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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