We surveyed readers in different parts of the country who had been arrested for a first-offense DUI to find out how much they paid to resolve their case. Here, we discuss the average costs these readers reported. This information can give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay for a first DUI, but there are lots of variables that affect costs. For instance, fines and fees vary by state. And first DUIs involving a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or an accident can end up costing more than other first offenses. With that in mind, here's what our survey results showed.
The average overall cost that our survey respondents reported was $6,500. Included in this average, however, are responses from readers (20% of the survey pool) who were found not guilty or whose charges were ultimately dismissed. And this average doesn't account for lost income, though a quarter of our respondents reported an average of $4,400 in lost wages.
There are lots of costs that contribute to the total for a first-offense DUI. To get a better idea of the cost breakdown, we asked our survey participants for some specifics. Here's what they told us:
- Attorney's fees. On average, our readers paid $1,900 in attorney fees and expenses. This average includes responses from those who used public defenders rather than privately-hired attorneys.
- Court-ordered fines. The average our readers spent on court fees and fines was $1,100. Of course, our survey respondents who weren't convicted of a DUI probably didn't pay much, if anything, in this category.
- Car insurance increases. Most insurance companies will hike your rates if you get a DUI. Our readers reported an average of $800 per year in increased car insurance premiums.
- Traffic school and substance abuse education courses. As part of sentencing or license reinstatement requirements, drivers often must do traffic school or substance abuse education. On average, our survey respondents paid $360 for these types of courses.
- Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) fees. Oftentimes, a DUI arrest has consequences related to the driver's license and vehicle registration. And there are usually DMV fees associated with these consequences. For instance, when the DMV suspends a driver's license, there's typically a reinstatement fee. Our readers paid an average of $260 in DMV fees.
- Ignition interlock devices (IIDs). Some states require first offenders to install IIDs on their vehicles. Most of the time, the defendant has to foot the bill for installation of and maintaining the device. IIDs cost our survey respondents $170 on average.
- Towing and storage. If you're arrested for a DUI and you don't have a sober passenger who can safely drive your car home, chances are it'll be towed. Our survey participants paid an average of $170 in towing and storage fees.
- Bail. If you get arrested for a DUI and put in jail, you probably want to get out as soon as possible. The average our readers spent to bail out of jail was $150.
Though costs vary depending on the circumstances of the case, the bottom line is that DUIs are expensive. If you get arrested for a DUI—even if you aren't ultimately charged or convicted—you're likely to spend quite a bit before it's all over.