The High Cost of a Drunk Driving Arrest

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September 10, 2019

More than 10,000 people die every year in car accidents that involve at least one driver who is under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

And while the number of accidents involving alcohol is in the tens of thousands, about 1.5 million people are arrested annually for driving under the influence, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you are arrested, you can expect to pay out substantial sums that could be close to $20,000. You’d not only be looking at fines, but also legal fees, impound fees and many years of higher insurance premiums, among other costs.

In every state, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. That may not sound like much, but if you have a BAC of even just 0.1 percent, you would likely be quite impaired.

To be over the limit may involve having just one drink for a small adult or two drinks for someone who weighs 200 pounds or more. 

How the Costs Mount Up

Besides the fact that you can change someone else’s life forever if you drive under the influence, here’s what you can expect in terms of extra costs:
  • Bail from jail can range from $100 to $2,500.
  • If you are arrested for a DUI offense, you should expect to be jailed for a period of time. You will have to pay to be behind bars, which can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars.
  • There are also sentencing fees of up to $250.
  • Probation fees can run $200 to $1,200.
  • After you are arrested, law enforcement will have your vehicle towed to an impound yard. Car towing and impound fees can often cost you upwards of $1,200.
  • Fines and fees can range dramatically, but the average is about $1,000. These fees will be higher for repeat offenders.
  • On top of that, many states require some jail time after a conviction.
  • Attorney fees for a first DUI can run from as low as $1,500, but on average the figure is closer to about $3,500, depending on where you live. These fees will be higher for repeat offenders.
  • There will also be other fines assessed on you. These can vary substantially, as well. For a first-time DUI, you can expect to cough up $150 to $1,800.
  • Many states require that even first-time offenders have their vehicles fitted with an ignition interlock device that they must blow into to ensure they are below the legal limit. These devices can cost between $500 and $1,500 to install.
  • Alternative transportation costs can also add up during the period that you are under probation and may not be allowed to drive. You may have to pay up for public transportation, Uber/Lyft or a taxi.
  • You auto insurance will also jump considerably.
As you can see, the numbers add up quickly and you could be looking at extra outlays of at least $10,000 – and close to $20,000 if your case is more serious. Also, the above costs do not take into consideration if you injure or kill a third party.

In addition, Meemic may drop you when it’s time to renew, forcing you to shop around for new coverage, which is not easy with a fresh DUI arrest on your record. You may have to use an insurer that specializes in high-risk drivers, and that will cost you, too. 

A DUI will stay on your Department of Motor Vehicles driving record at least five years in most states, and as long as 10 years in others. 

The Takeaway

The best way to avoid all of these costs is not to drink and drive, period. But, if you are ever arrested for a DUI offense, you should contact your agent to discuss your insurance options.
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