What is the True Cost of a DUI?

No one wants to end up with a DUI charge. Even if you don’t know the exact cost, you know that a DUI can have expensive repercussions, and level both short and long-term implications on your life. If you find yourself facing a DUI charge, this information should equip you with the knowledge of what to expect, both financially and in other areas of your life.

The cost of a DUI ranges greatly between individuals and states. The costs themselves are sometimes incalculable. Sure, there are the fees and fines associated with a DUI charge, not to mention the time away from work or potential employment loss. Those can be quantified and calculated. There is also the steep price of the emotional toll, including everything from lost trust to the impact on a person’s mental health.

Here is a breakdown of the financial and emotional costs of a DUI charge.

H2: Financial impact of a DUI

BACtrack breaks down the cost of the average first-time DUI charge. Because each individual cost can vary drastically, the range of what you could be paying for a DUI is pretty large. The estimated lowest cost you would pay for a DUI charge is about $13,000 for the items listed below, with other associated costs that can follow. First-time offenders can typically pay as much as $27,000, as costs accrue for all of the following items:

  • Bail
  • Car towing or impounding
  • Court costs
  • Legal and probation fees
  • Mandated DUI education programs
  • Insurance
  • Fee to reinstate a driver’s license

Some of the costs can be cut down, such as transportation, if you have someone who is willing to drive you until your license is reinstated. Additionally, some of the fees listed by BACtrack include jail-related fines. Many states do not require jail time for a first-time offense. These numbers are a rough estimate, but you can expect to shell out a minimum of $10,000 for a first-time DUI charge.

There are several factors that could increase the cost of a DUI charge. The first thing to consider is whether this is a first-time, or a repeated, offense. Typically, fines and fees increase for second or third-time offenses, and insurance levels skyrocket with multiple DUIs. Another factor that can increase the overall price of a DUI is an enhanced Penalty BAC (Blood-Alcohol Content) level. An Enhanced Penalty BAC level is when a BAC is about double the national limit of .08%. The exact percentage differs by state, but like the term implies, the penalties (costs) of a DUI increase with a higher BAC.

Another major factor to take into consideration is potential damage done by the circumstances surrounding the DUI charge. The cost will increase drastically if additional charges are presented at the same time, such as driving with a suspended license or operating a stolen vehicle. Although some judges have mercy on first-time offenders, additional charges decrease your likelihood of lessened penalties. Moreover, a DUI charge that came from an accident where someone was injured or property was damaged will impose other financial burdens. These could include hospital bills, or even lawsuits, in the unfortunate case of severe injury or death.

Another very real financial load that is difficult to calculate is the impact on a person’s employment. A person with a DUI charge is likely to lose time at work due to potential jail time and time off for court dates. This could lead to termination of employment. Additionally, if the person’s job requires him or her to drive, it is likely that the company would terminate employment. Future employers may also be less likely to hire someone when a DUI charge appears on a background check.

H2: Emotional impact of a DUI

If the financial consequences of the DUI aren’t enough, the emotional payment is sufficient to wear anyone down. A DUI is likely to have a massive impact on a person’s mental health, as he or she copes with the financial toll, impact on relationships, potential job loss and loss of trust. Additionally, a car accident that resulted in injury of another person may leave a life-long sense of guilt.

Often, a DUI comes with a slew of stereotypes and a sense of disappointment from family, friends and community members. The opinions of employers may also be affected, as a DUI stays on a person’s record for five years in some states, and for life in others. Once someone is charged with a DUI, it can feel like a permanent label.

Relationships are likely to be damaged in other ways by a DUI. People may be less likely to trust someone with a DUI. Companions could start to isolate an individual, worried that inviting him or her out might instigate another offense. Asking friends for rides while your license is revoked could also strain some relationships, as could borrowing money to pay court fees. A good support system is important for someone faced with a DUI, but the burden puts weight on all those involved.

In recent years, more courts have mandated mental health intervention for DUI cases. Although this can be costly and add to the financial burden, the idea is that education and mental health intervention are becoming more of a priority. Seeking counseling for the emotional impact of a DUI is important even after the court-mandated sessions have ended. It might be essential to healing yourself, and the relationships that have been affected.

If you find yourself or a loved one faced with a DUI charge, it’s time for an intervention. For your safety and others’, call Rehab After Work at (610) 644-6464 to get help in controlling substance use habits before you find them beginning to control you. You can also visit us online to schedule an appointment today, to avoid a painful, costly alternative.