True Cost of DUI or DWI

The true cost of a DUI conviction

If you are reading this after being convicted of a DUI you will know firsthand the true cost of a DUI conviction. Hopefully you are reaching this article prior and making a conscience decision to stay away from driving after enjoying a few beverages with your buddies.

Most individuals don’t fully understand the economic long-term effect after a DUI or DWI and we are here to lay out some hard costs and a pile of variables that could become a hockey stick of higher costs.

Here are some hard cost average ranges to consider based on a first, second, or third DUI offense:

Fee Description

State Fines

License Fees


Insurance costs

Loss of income

Ignition Interlock

Legal fees

Total Hard Costs

1st Offense

$100 – $5,000

$250 – $500

$100 – $500

$3,000 – $4,500

$1,000 – $4,000

$0 – $325

$0 – $3,000

$4,600 – $17,825

2nd Offense

$300 – $10,000

$250 – $500

$200 – $2,000

$3,000 – $4,500

$1,000 – $10,000

$0 – $325

$0 – $5,000

$4,750 – $32,325

3rd Offense

$350 – $10,000

$250 – $500

$200 – $2,000

$3,000 – $4,500

$5,000 – $25,000

$0 – $325

$0 – $15,000

$8,800 – $57,325

The costs above show a wide range that depends heavily on the state of the DUI or DWI. Each state ranges widely on fines and penalties. The aspect of “loss of income” is one of the most difficult to determine as salary and jail time can greatly increase or decrease this factor and should be considered.  For an individual that is convicted with a third DUI offense jail time can range from a month to years therefore increasing the loss of income drastically.

The legal fees will also vary based on factors and could be much higher if the conviction involved an accident, minor in the vehicle, or death.

Four or more offenses – If you are involved with more than 3 DUI convictions drastic penalties and jail time in most states will be enforced.

Here are a handful of variables that can change the numbers above:

  • The DUI caused an accident – If you were convicted with a DUI and were involved in an accident this can make the long-term financial cost exponentially higher than the hard costs.
  • The passenger was a minor – A minor is typically anybody in a vehicle under the age of 16. If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI with a minor expect modifications to the hard costs and time in jail most of the time. A first DUI conviction is normally classified as a misdemeanor but if a minor is in the vehicle this may be changed to a felony.
  • You lost your job – Most employers are not too accepting of DUI charges from employees and many decide to remove those employees from the payroll. For second and third DUI convictions the length of time incarcerated make it very difficult for employers to justify continued employment and could drastically affect the long-term effect of income. Many employees will not employ those with criminal records.
  • Destroyed a relationship – For those that ultimately cause destruction of a relationship from a DUI conviction could have major long-term financial effects if both incomes were considered to cover finances. A second DUI offense could realistically cause a loss of job and the loss of relationship causing a total loss of income changing the hard costs into a downward spiral that could take years to recover.

Additional thoughts to consider

Facing the fact that drinking is here to stay the answer is not to stop enjoying beverages with friends. The answer is finding the best method for transportation after drinking that justifies the cost. With services like Uber or finding a fair designated driving agreement among friends is without a doubt worth the cost.

Food for thought – If you went out an average of once per month and spent $50 on transportation it would take from 7 – 29 years to pay off the first DUI. This may be the cheapest insurance on the planet.

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