Every year, nearly 10,000 Americans die in DUI road accidents, which is a staggering number of lives lost due to the negligence of drunk drivers.
The deaths resulting from drunk driving accidents accounted for nearly 30% of all road fatalities in the United States in 2020. According to the CDC, apart from the emotional burden on the victims’ families and friends, road accidents cost the government nearly $50 billion in work loss and medical bills in 2018.
When we looked at the bigger picture and more data regarding DUI in the United States, we found out that drunk drivers cost nearly $44 billion in deaths and damages annually. Even though the number of DUI instances has decreased in recent times, drunk driving still occurs frequently. The U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated that around 30 people are killed in car crashes related to drunk driving every day.
So, how much does a DUI cost? We have the answers to this and any other questions related to drinking and driving right here.
It's difficult to tell how much a DUI ticket will cost you because several factors need to be considered. It will depend on the state and city you get pulled over in, how much you’ve drunk, your age, and other factors.
If you want an estimate, the total DUI ticket cost may reach nearly $20,000, depending on the severity of the offense. In general, a DUI may cost you anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000 when you add up all the fees and fines.
You’ll face a wide range of penalties if you're convicted for drunk driving, which will mainly depend on the strictness of the DUI laws in your state. The penalties for a DUI vary considerably, taking into account the number of prior convictions and your blood alcohol concentration.
49 out of 50 states have set the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit at 0.08%. Utah has the BAC limit of 0.05%.
The primary DUI costs are related to hiring an attorney and increased insurance premiums. In addition, there are many fees involved.
Now, let’s look in detail at the costs that contribute to the total for a first-offense DUI:
If it’s your first offense, you can show up for court and pay your fine in person without an attorney. However, it’s better to hire one to help you deal with the situation when you may face felony charges or have multiple offenses that could put you behind bars for several years.
How much does a lawyer for DUI cost? Depending on factors like experience, reputation, location, ability, and the case, you can end up paying nearly $10,000 in attorney fees.
There is a court fee every time a person comes before the court. For first-time DUI offenders, these fees range between $1000–$1500.
Your car insurance premiums will rise substantially after a DUI. The average increase may be anywhere between 20% to 25% for a drunk driving conviction. You may also have a difficult time finding another auto insurance policy for some time. Additionally, you may lose your home and auto insurance discounts.
In some states, you will be required to join a traffic school and enroll in substance abuse education courses. How much are DUI classes? They can cost you between $1,000 to $3,000 in fees.
A DUI driver will also need to take a state-certified driver intervention program, which costs nearly $300. If you can’t afford it, you will need to serve a three-day sentence in jail.
In some states, you will automatically lose your driver's license if you are convicted of drunk driving. For example, you can lose your driver's license for nine months if you're convicted in Colorado, but you won't lose your license for a first-time DUI in Pennsylvania.
If you lose your license, you will need to pay a reinstatement fee when you get it back, which could be between $20 to $200.
You will also need to install an ignition interlock device in your car, a device that monitors the driver's BAC level. You need to hook it to the ignition of your vehicle. If the device detects alcohol in your breath, the vehicle won't start.
The installation costs of an ignition interlock device can be between $100 to $150. Additionally, you will need to pay $75 a month for the device.
As you will likely have to spend time in jail when convicted for a DUI, your car will be towed away and stored in the police compound. Once you get out of jail, you will need to pay between $100 to $1,200 in towing and storage fees to get your vehicle back.
When convicted for a first-time DUI, you can apply for bail. DUI bail amount will depend on a number of factors. It may cost you between $150 to $2,500 to post bail and get out of jail.
There are other potential costs associated with DUI that you need to consider, including taking random drug screenings and urine tests, which can cost you around $100. You will also be required to do community service and pay a supervision fee of $100. Additionally, it may be difficult to find employment opportunities. You may even lose your job if an employer discovers that you have a DUI in your history.
The average cost of a DUI in the United States is around $4,100, but that isn't the story for every state. Some states have lower fines and fees than others, which is why the costs and penalties of a DUI conviction in California will differ significantly from those you will face in South Dakota.
For example, DUI offenders in Florida may have their license suspended for six months and could be imprisoned for nearly nine months, on top of paying a fine between $500 to $2,000.
Here is a table that details the minimum average costs of a DUI in every state.
|State||Cost of DUI|
Regarding fines, it would be in your best interests to never drink and drive in Alaska. Even though the penalties vary based on the severity of the accident, you could end up paying close to $6,000 in the northern states.
Arizona tops the charts for states with harsh DUI laws, as you could face a minimum of $1,250 in fines, spend ten days in jail, and have your license suspended for a year.
The worst states for DUI laws include Alaska, Utah, Georgia, Arizona, and California. It is advised that you avoid DUI in these states because if you are a repeat offender of drunk driving here, you could face lengthy jail time and significant fines and fees.
49 out of 50 states in the United States have set the same DUI limit, which allows a driver to have a BAC of no more than 0.8%. Utah has the BAC limit of 0.05%. So, if your BAC exceeds 0,05% in Utah or 0.08% in the rest of the states, you could be pulled over and convicted for a DUI.
As reported by the Vera Institute of Justice, the average cost of incarceration ranges from $14,000 to $70,000 per inmate annually, depending on the state. The majority of states pay on average 25,000–30,000 per individual per year.
Prison costs taxpayers around $80,000 billion annually nationwide.
Jail time depends on the state. A first-time DUI offense is punishable by no more than six months or a year in jail. But this time can be even shorter in some states. For example, Pennsylvania doesn’t impose any jail time after the first DUI.
An ignition interlock device, also referred to as a car breathalyzer, is installed in a car to prevent drivers from starting their vehicles if they have been drinking alcohol. The device is as small as a TV remote and is directly connected to the vehicle's ignition.
Drivers need to blow directly into the ignition interlock device for a couple of seconds to determine the amount of alcohol in their blood. If the BAC is higher than 0.2%, the engine won't start, and drivers won't be able to drive.
The best way to avoid an ignition interlock device is to never drink and drive. Alternatively, you may also try to get an interlock exemption form approved by the court if the case is still being fought in court.
Usually, DUI offenders have to install the ignition interlock device in their vehicles for a period of six months to two years, depending on the number of prior DUI convictions.
Even though there are numerous methods across the internet explaining how to trick the device, there is actually no way to cheat the ignition interlock device.
It’s very easy to use an ignition interlock device. Drivers need to blow into the mouthpiece of the car breathalyzer to give a breath sample. The device will test the blood alcohol concentration, and if it’s within the legal limit, a driver will be allowed to start the car.
It's a known fact that getting a DUI on your record will raise your car insurance rates substantially. In most instances, you could end up paying twice as much for coverage. It is estimated that after DUI, insurance rates increase by nearly 70% or more.
A DUI will stay on your driving record for up to 10 years, but insurance companies will generally check for the past four or five years. So if you haven't had any DUI convictions in the past four years, don't worry about increased auto insurance rates.
A DUI conviction, on average, will increase the price of your auto insurance by nearly $1,700 a year, according to industry estimates. That's roughly 72% more per year.
In some states, a DUI can double the price of your car insurance. For example, if you are convicted for drunk driving in North Carolina, your insurance rates can be quadrupled. Generally, the price will depend on the state you live in and the state's penalties and fees for DUI convictions.
In most cases, insurance will not cover your car if you get a DUI because you’re partaking in illegal activity. You put yourself, your passengers, and other drivers on the road at risk. Additionally, your insurance company may choose not to renew your auto insurance coverage after your policy expires or even drop you.
A DUI will affect your auto insurance rates for several years. In some states, drunk driving may impact the rates for nearly five years after the DUI. If you are a repeat offender and have several DUI convictions on your record, the insurance company may choose to cancel your auto insurance coverage.
Your auto insurance company may learn about your DUI conviction when you renew your policy, as this is the time when insurers check your driving record. However, not informing your insurance company of any recent DUI convictions won't prevent an increase in insurance rates, and your auto insurance company will likely drop your policy entirely.
Getting behind the wheel of a car when you are drunk is not a good idea as you are endangering your life and the lives of others on the road. It's also a costly mistake that may result in shelling out thousands of dollars in penalties and fees and facing jail time.
Learning how to prevent and avoid situations like this will only help you become a safer driver. It's always best to hail a cab, call a rideshare service, or take public transportation if you are intoxicated instead of getting in your car and being pulled over for drunk driving. Don’t forget that the DUI will stay on your record for nearly ten years or longer, and it may cost you more money than you can afford.
The 10-year cost of a DUI conviction in California could be hundreds of thousands of dollars as you could not only lose your job but pay higher insurance premiums, apart from the fines and fees. In addition, your license could be suspended for a period of six months to up to five years, depending on your offense. DUI fines and fees in California range between $400 to $5,000. Plus, penalty fees and assessments can increase the total cost to nearly $18,000. DUI with property damage or injury will also require you to pay the injured parties.
The costs of your DUI conviction vary substantially, based on your BAC level and the number of your prior DUI convictions. Most of the expenses associated with a DUI are related to increased insurance premiums, hiring an attorney, and paying court fees. There are also other costly fees you need to pay depending on your state and your conviction.
Even though driving under the influence is a crime, most people aren't fazed by getting arrested for a DUI for the first time. They believe it's a first-time offense, and the law is lenient for first-time offenders. Even though most states treat a first-time DUI like a misdemeanor, it carries severe consequences for the short and long term. Here is what will happen when you are pulled over and convicted for a first-time DUI offense.
Does all that sound like a small thing for a first-time DUI offense? That's why it’s best to call an Uber, hail a cab, or ask your friends to give you a ride when you are drunk. It’s much safer than getting behind the wheel of your car, risking getting a DUI, and later wondering, how much does a DUI cost?
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