The most noticeable impact of getting a DUI is the potential for loss or damage of life. However, it can be tough on your finances as well.
The U.S. Department of Transportation tells us that one person in the U.S. dies every 52 minutes (on average) due to a drunk driving crash.
That adds up to over 10,000 people per year. However, the statistics don’t tell of the hundreds of thousands of people affected each year financially by DUI occurrences.
In this article, we’ll explain how a DUI – aside from the tragic ramifications it leaves on tens of thousands of lives physically and emotionally each year – can affect your pocketbook.
Table of Contents
- How a DUI Can Affect Your Life
- Average Cost of a DUI
- Fines By Your State’s Judicial Systems
- Legal Fees
- Higher Insurance Rates
- Other Fees That Come With Getting a DUI
- Getting a DUI In College
- Getting a DUI With a Full-Time Job
- How To Avoid Getting A DUI
How a DUI Can Affect Your Life
The consequences of getting a DUI go far beyond your finances. For instance, if you get a DUI, it will show up on your driving record anywhere from five years to life.
Each state has set rules for how long DUIs stay on your driving or criminal record, minimums for fines, and minimums for jail time or losing driving privileges.
For example, most U.S. states will suspend your driver’s license for anywhere from 30 days up to one year when you’re convicted of a DUI charge, even if it’s your first offense.
Each state has a minimum for required jail time, which could be anywhere from 24 hours up to one or two years.
Other criminal punishments can include a requirement to go to DUI classes or counseling, hefty fines, and having an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.
An ignition interlock device requires you to blow into a breathalyzer before starting your car. The car won’t start if your blood alcohol level is above the legal limit.
As you can imagine, all of these forms of criminal punishment can affect your life in numerous ways.
Next, let’s talk about a DUI’s impact on your finances.
Average Cost of a DUI
States are allowed to make their own rules regarding DUI fines and other punishments. Here’s what you can expect for penalties and additional costs if you get a DUI.
Fines By Your State’s Judicial Systems
While every state varies, here are some examples of fines by states alone, not including legal fees. All of these numbers are for first DUI occurrences.
- California: $1400 to $2600
- Florida: $500 to $2,000
- Minnesota: $1,000
- New York: $500 to $1,000
- Washington state: $865.50 up to $5,000
If you choose to get legal help to handle your DUI, you’ll also be paying attorney fees.
Lawyers.com says that an average attorney’s flat fee for handling a DUI case is $2,400.
Some attorneys charge by the hour for handling DUI cases. Typical hourly rates can cost anywhere from $220 to $305 per hour.
You may be able to secure a public defender for your DUI; however, there are strict financial requirements that you must meet to do so –
Higher Insurance Rates
You can expect to pay higher insurance rates when you get your driving privileges reinstated after a DUI.
According to Carinsurance.com, some companies will cancel your auto insurance policy after a DUI conviction.
Even if you can get car insurance, you can expect to see rates climb up to 371% higher than you paid before your DUI conviction.
For example, if you had an auto insurance policy pre-DUI that cost you $500 per year, you can expect to pay up to $1,855 per year for insurance after the fact.
Other Fees That Come With Getting a DUI
Unfortunately, other fees can come with getting a DUI as well.
For instance, you may have to pay:
- Car towing and impound lot fees of up to $1,000 or more
- Bail fees of $100 to $2,500 so you can get out of jail until your trial
- Other court-ordered fees such as fees by the state to pay for your jail time expenses, sentencing fees, and probation fees (average $300 to $1,750)
- Ignition interlock fees (average $500 to $1,500)
- DUI treatment/class fees (average minimum of $1,000 up to several thousand dollars)
- Costs for alternative transportation sources that need to be arranged until you get your license back
And more. See this article at Alcohol.org for more information on the fees of getting a DUI conviction.
All said and done; it’s not uncommon for first-time DUI offenders to pay $10,000 or more out-of-pocket when you add in legal fees, state fines, and other fees.
However, a DUI conviction can have a much broader reach in your life. Next, let’s talk about how getting a DUI can affect you at college.
Getting a DUI In College
Most colleges take DUI offenses quite seriously; they see it as an indicator of character and judgment issues.
Some colleges will flat-out deny you admission if you’ve got a DUI conviction on your record. Others may expel you (if you’re already attending) or suspend you for a time.
Specific specialty programs will deny you admission if you’ve got a DUI on your record as well.
For instance, medical programs, law programs, healthcare programs, and other college programs often deny admission or expel current students who get a DUI.
Financial Aid Impact
If you’re convicted of a DUI, you should expect to lose part or all of your financial aid package. Also, many scholarship programs will deny or revoke a student who gets a DUI, and you may be forced to reimburse the program for scholarship funds already received.
Loss of Extracurricular Privileges
A DUI can result in other penalties as well. The college may ask you to leave your fraternity, sorority, or another college club. In addition, they may expel you from any sports teams you’re on.
Some colleges even require that convicted DUI offenders be kicked out of student housing facilities and live off-campus.
As you can see, getting a DUI can affect your ability to get into and stay in college.
Depending on the program you’ve chosen, you may have to switch your career entirely due to a DUI conviction.
Next, let’s talk about how a DUI can affect your job.
Getting a DUI With a Full-Time Job
Some career fields are more strict about DUI convictions than others. For example, if your career requires a commercial driver’s license, you’re likely to lose it for a year or more.
Even if you can drive for your job without a commercial license, you may be prohibited from doing so due to a state-imposed driver’s license suspension.
And if you don’t drive for a living, you’ll still need to have a way to get to work.
Here are some of the other impacts you may experience when you get a DUI.
Refusal to Hire
If you’re in the process of looking for a new job, know that many companies won’t hire you if you have a DUI on your record.
They worry it’s an indicator of conduct issues or addiction, and they don’t want to deal with either of those issues with employees.
Loss of Job or Career Choice
If you are in the medical field, legal field, real estate field, education, or a government employee, you could lose your job and your ability to work in that field.
There are two main reasons for this: security clearances and code of ethics standards.
Some fields and companies that require you to have special security clearances consider those clearances a privilege only given to those with high ethical standards.
If you violate ethics standards by getting a DUI, your employer may choose to terminate your job.
CDL drivers are also likely to lose their jobs over a DUI conviction. Most companies that employ CDL drivers have little to no tolerance for unethical behavior behind the wheel.
Also, state-specific laws can prohibit CDL drivers from getting back behind the wheel at work after a DUI occurrence.
Smear on Your Employment Record
Lastly, even if you can keep your job after a DUI, you will likely have a smear on your employment record with the company.
This mark could hinder, delay or prevent you from getting raises, advancing within the company, or being selected for special projects.
In other words, a DUI could affect your finances and your career for years to come, even if it’s your first DUI offense.
Next, let’s talk about some ways to avoid getting a DUI conviction.
How To Avoid Getting A DUI
Some attorneys will tell you that they can get a DUI conviction expunged from your criminal and driving record.
And while that may be true in some instances, I’m a firm believer in the adage “Prevention is the best medicine.”
With that said, consider these suggestions for avoiding a DUI conviction.
- Plan ahead when consuming on social outings for a sober driver or rideshare driver
- Set a limit of one to two drinks when out
- Eat food as you consume
- Wait at least an hour after your last drink before driving
- Consider having a cup of coffee before you hit the road
- Self-monitor your alcohol consumption as a whole to ensure you are in a healthy consumption range
Celebratory outings are all fun and good. Just make sure to protect yourself, your career, your money, and those around you by avoiding driving while intoxicated.