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
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.