What are the Financial Impacts of Getting a DUI or DWI?

The cost of having an alcohol-related traffic incident may be catastrophic for the average person. There are a variety of costs involved, both short and long-term. To get an idea of what driving under the influence can cost a person, these are the major fees and expenses to expect.

Short-Term Costs

After violating a drunk driving law, drivers temporarily lose their license. This is the law in all 50 states. One immediate result is that the person then relies on other means of transportation. Relying on ride-sharing apps or other methods to get to work or other places adds up quickly. Additionally, drivers have to pay a $250 reinstatement fee before returning to be an active driver again.

States may also require people to install car ignition interlocking devices. This is a machine that connects to the ignition. It checks the blood alcohol level. Before starting the car, drivers blow into the machine. This is similar to how a police would check with a breathalyzer. If alcohol is detected, the car simply won't start. If a driver fails the test while the car is currently running, the vehicle will start the horn or flash the lights. This device can cost several hundred dollars to install. It also costs up to $80 per month to maintain.

Other short-term costs relate to legal fees and other court-mandated fees. For example, drunk drivers have to pay for their court costs, any bail fees, car towing services, and attorney fees. Most of the time, a judge orders the driver to participate in a drunk driving education program. This program can cost up to $2,500 which the offender has to pay.

Long Term Costs

One of the biggest long-term costs for drivers is the increased cost of insurance. Insurance companies will usually offer some type of insurance to drivers but they increase their rates dramatically. In addition to having increased normal insurance requirements, drivers may also have to purchase SR22 coverage. SR22 can be required when a person has been convicted of DUIS or DWIs. This is not actually a type of insurance. It simply means that you are meeting the minimum insurance requirements for your state. The policy provider informs the state that you have an SR22, giving them an extra layer of verification.

The cost for an SR22 varies from state to state and also depends on the insurance provider. Additionally, a person who is required to hold an SR22 will typically see their insurance rates rise.

Understanding the Total Cost

The costs associated with a DUI and DWI vary from state to state. However, drivers an expect to pay thousands of dollars over time. The minimum cost for a driver for the first infraction is around $10,000. The Department of Transportation in Texas estimated that the cost for an arrest and conviction for drunk driving ranged from $9,000-$24,000. This was a conviction without having an auto accident involved. Although costs vary depending on a wide range of factors, the bottom line remains that a DUI or DWI costs a great deal in the short and long term.