How Much Does Getting a DUI Cost?

by Scott Sery on March 25, 2013

Drunk-drivingQuite often there is a story on the news about a car wreck where one of the drivers was intoxicated.  Sometimes the wrecks just do physical damage; too often an innocent motorist is hurt or killed.  We all know that driving under the influence is bad, but even having a couple drinks and driving can put you over the legal limit.  You do not have to get in a wreck to experience the financial impacts of a DUI.

When I was in college there was a campaign called the 4 out of 5 of us campaign.  What it meant was that on the weekend four out of five students at the college did not drink and drive.  My friends and I would laugh about those drunk driving statistics saying that it was nothing to be proud of that 20% of the weekend drivers were drunk.  Nationwide, the statistics are a little better at about 11.4% (and each year there are fewer drunk drivers on the road).  But that still means that one out of every ten cars you pass is driven by a drunk driver.

When people drink and drive, drunk driving accidents occur.  These accidents make up a full 1/3 of all the car wrecks in any given year.  Distracted driving (something becoming even more of a problem), tired driving, and careless driving make up a majority of the rest.

There are many times that you have had one too many but you think you are fine to get home.  Looking at the financial impacts of getting arrested for a DUI may make you think twice.

The first cost will be that you need to be bailed out of jail.  This can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.  The problem is that most people do not have the cash on hand and will have to find a bail bond office.  If you check out you can find those closest to you; you may be surprised how many there actually are.

But the costs just keep coming.  Your car will be towed, another few hundred dollars.  You will have court costs and attorney fees that can soar quickly into the thousands of dollars.  Your insurance rates will likely double or triple for the next three to five years, another several thousand dollars.  You may need to take DUI awareness classes, counseling if it is not your first offense, breathalyzer ignition locks may be court ordered, and we are not even figuring in time lost at work (or worse being fired because some companies will not allow people with DUI’s or DWI’s on their payroll).  Now imagine the stigma you have to live with knowing you got a DUI.  And imagine the regret if you get into an accident and hurt or kill someone.

It is tempting to go out and have a good time only to think “I can make it home.”  If the risk of getting into an accident is not enough, think of how you will feel when you are $20,000 poorer because you did not want to spend $50 on a cab ride?  Your retirement may get pushed back a decade with a setback like that.  Take the safe route, and don’t put yourself at risk of getting caught in the first place.

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Scott Sery

Scott Sery is a native to Billings, Montana. Within an hour in nearly any direction he can be found fishing, hunting, backpacking, caving, and rock or ice climbing. With an extensive knowledge of the finance and insurance world, Scott loves to write personal finance articles. When not talking money, he enjoys passing on his knowledge of the back country, or how to live sustainably. You can learn more about Scott on his website Sery Content Development
  • Cash Cow Couple

    A few of my college friends had the unfortunate experience of receiving one or more DUI. They paid thousands of dollars in fees, and fines, and attempts to un-stain their permanent record.

  • Luckily, I have never dealt with that. I know a couple of individuals that have been through this and I say it is a small price to pay for being stupid.

  • I’ve never driven with alcohol in my system and I likely never will. Saying that I know people who have gotten caught and not only did it ruin their opportunities at employment, insurance went up, they had to blow to start the car for a year, pay fines.. all for making the wrong decision. A small price to pay though for being alive. Some people don’t live to see the aftermath that the created to their own family and others they may have injured or killed. I’m working on a fan who has an inspirational story to tell about how it impacted her life. I hope she agrees to share it because people need to hear it. Great post.

    • There are so many things that make drinking and driving a bad choice. While we never want people to get caught, they tend to be the best stories for others to hear and make them think twice.

  • I’m always the designated driver so i don’t drink when we go out. I feel that the cost – financial. risk and life cost is not worth the risk to drink and drive.

    I know of a few people who have lost their licenses – it creates an inconvenience for themselves and their families always having to get rides or cabs (extra expense) the worry of being fired or cut down in time because the DUI. It also hurts a persons reputation and relationships. Insurance goes up, cars have to be towed, parked, stored. There are fines to be paid as well as court costs and lawyer costs. Some people even end up paying the cost for a device AFTER they get their license back to check blood alcohol levels.

  • I had a friend in college who got caught as well. It was not a good time for him.

  • Good for you for being the designated driver. You are assuring that you and your friends/family are getting home safe.

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