Drunk driving isn’t just dangerous; it can also be costly. In every U.S. state, if a police officer catches you driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 percent or above, you can be ticketed for driving under the influence (DUI). Even with a BAC level under 0.8 percent, you could be charged if noticeably impaired or hovering near the limit. Furthermore, zero tolerance laws nationwide can punish those under the legal drinking age of 21 for driving with a BAC level of just .01 percent or greater.
While the total cost of a DUI depends on the state, conviction, offender’s record, and other factors, the whole process can easily cost thousands of dollars. According to OneDUI Insurance, the national average for a DUI is around $10,000. Here’s a breakdown of some common DUI-related costs.
Towing, storage, and impound costs.
If you’re placed under arrest for a DUI, the police officer will sometimes move your vehicle to a parking lot or let you call someone to pick it up. However, in states where impoundment is mandatory, the officer can tow it to an impound lot. After paying for the tow ($109 on average), daily storage fees, and costs to release the vehicle from the lot, an impounded car or truck can end up costing hundreds of dollars.
DUI bail and bond costs.
If suspected of a DUI, and arrested and “booked,” (meaning that belongings, personal information, fingerprints, and mugshots are taken and processed), you may be able to pay bail to be released from the local jail or holding cell. Certain factors like state laws, prior DUI offenses, the BAC level, and general seriousness of the crime can affect whether you’re able to make bail, as well as determine the bail bond amount.
DUI court fines.
Courts often impose fees for a DUI that can include paying an offense fine, penalty assessment, and restitution. These costs vary per state, but can range from $500 to $2,000 and average around $1,100.
When going to court for a DUI, you can choose to hire an attorney, go with the public defender appointed to your case, or represent yourself. The last two options won’t cost anything (aside from court fines, etc.); however, in instances where it’s not your first DUI offense, or you caused injury to another person, it’s often recommended to hire a private lawyer. Average attorney fees can start at about $1,000, and total over $10,000 depending on the state and charges.
Ignition interlock device (IID) or breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) installation.
To help prevent a drunk driver from returning to the road intoxicated, a judge may order the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), sometimes called a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID). An IID is a breathalyzer that attaches to your vehicle and prevents the car from starting if alcohol is detected. The device logs information about your driving that can be downloaded and given to the court, law enforcement, or DMV. Typically, a state- or court-approved third-party installs the device for around $50-$150, and then you pay a $50-$150 monthly fee, as well as a $50-$150 removal fee.
License reinstatement fee.
Depending on whether it’s your first, second, or third DUI, your driver’s license can be suspended for months or years. Once the suspension period has ended, and you’ve fulfilled your state’s requirements (e.g., got an SR22 from your insurance company, and if required, had an Ignition Interlock Device installed on the vehicle), you’ll have to pay a license reinstatement fee, which varies from state to state. For example, Tennessee’s reinstatement fee is $100, and Texas’s is $125. Check with your Department of Motor Vehicles to learn how much the fees are in your state.
SR22 or FR44 insurance filing.
If your license has been suspended and you’re trying to get it reinstated, the state or court will order you to obtain an SR22 or FR44. An SR22 is a certificate of insurance, or “Proof of Financial Responsibility” form that proves a driver has bought the state minimum auto insurance coverage. An FR44 is like an FR22; however, it’s only used in Virginia and Florida and the state required liability limits are substantially higher than the minimum. Depending on the state, car insurance companies typically charge a $15 to $25 fee for filing an SR22 or FR44 form. And, because you are now a higher risk driver, your auto insurance premiums will also go up.
(Note: Some states refer to drunk driving as driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving while impaired (DWI), operating a motor vehicle impaired (OMVI), operating a vehicle impaired (OVI), or operating while intoxicated (OWI).)
We’re here to help! Direct Auto Insurance can file an SR22 or FR44 on your behalf with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Concerned about higher insurance costs? We can also help you understand how your DUI may affect your car insurance rate, and help you find an affordable premium, regardless of your insurance — or driving history. To learn more, come in to a Direct Auto Insurance location near you or call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732 ).