How much does a DUI cost? I gotta be honest with you.

It’s pretty ugly.

Everybody expects their car insurance premiums to go up after a DUI incident. And they do. By anywhere from $500 to $1500 per year for most people, depending on the state. You’ll probably have elevated insurance premiums for about three years before things start to normalize. So multiply that extra cost by 3 and you get a range of additional DUI costs from $1500 up to about $4,500, spread out over three years.

But that’s just the beginning.

Here’s what most people can expect following a FIRST offense:


Jail fees.

Yes, “jail fees” are a thing. They’ll feed you a meal of baloney and rice, have you drink Kool-Aid out of a cellophane bag, and you’ll pay for the privilege. Some places they call it a “subsistence fee.” I’ve seen these fees run $100 to $150 and up just for a day or two in jail.


Bail fees.

Bail fees can vary by a lot. But you can expect to pay from $250 to $2,500 depending on your venue and the judge’s mood.


Towing charges. 

This can vary by a lot. If you’re right by the city tow yard you might luck out and have a short $100 tow. If you’re out in the boonies, outside of town, you could see tow charges of $1,000 to $1,200. We’ve had clients get tagged with four figure fees many times, just for towing.


Impound lot fees.

If you get cited for drunk driving or driving while intoxicated, you’re going to spend at least 24 hours in jail. So if your car gets towed to the impound lot, you’re going to eat a fee of between $75 and $150 per day.

Don’t get pulled over on a Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend. I’ve seen people get stuck in jail an entire weekend, because they get arrested on a Friday and there’s no arraignment until Tuesday. So it could be four days worth of impound fees by the time you can bail your car out of jail.


Court costs. 

You can expect to pay court fees – from a low of about $75 all the way to $200. That’s if you don’t have a trial.


Defense attorney fees.

In most cases, you’re looking at between $1,000 and $5,000 in attorney’s fees.

Hopefully you’re spending closer to $5,000 than $1,000.

You don’t want to defend yourself here. There’s a huuuuuge difference between a schlub defending himself in court and an ace DUI attorney. The DUI attorney knows all the tricks, all the defenses, and how to hold cops and prosecutors accountable for following all the due process procedures and ensure the protection of the rights of the accused.

You don’t.

You also don’t want to just hire your attorney golf buddy. Even though you both know that he’s desperate for a client and needs the business more than he’s willing to admit to you. You want an attorney that specializes in DUI cases in your state. Don’t get cheap. This is the rest of your life we’re talking about here.

And unless the cops and prosecutors acted perfectly through the whole stop and arrest and through the whole chain of custody of the evidence, there’s a good chance an attorney can get the charges dropped or reduced.

Get the best attorney you can afford. Don’t be a cheapskate. Work overtime if you have to.

If you lose your license for a whole year because you got a dork for an attorney, it’s gonna cost you way more than $5,000 in lost work, time wasted waiting for the bus, favors owed to your friends for driving you to the mall,  and general hassle and humiliation.

You’re gonna pay one way or another. Spring for a good attorney.


First-time offender fees. 

These fees include probation fees, monthly “supervision” fees, miscellaneous court costs, and other fees the system lards on to your case. The courts, sherriff’s department, and prison system all get revenue from these fees, and they do their best to keep you trapped in the mire.

Probation fees alone can be as high as $150 per month (New Mexico, I’m looking at you!).

So if you get a year’s probation, you’re looking at another $1200 to $1800 out-of-pocket.


DUI treatment fees


These include weekend programs, drunk driving education programs, court ordered classes, and victim impact panels. These costs range from $150 per incident up to about $2,000.


Ignition interlock rental fees.

Courts routinely make the installation of an ignition interlock device a condition of license reinstatement. Ignition interlock devices require you to blow below the legal blood alcohol limit before you can start your vehicle.

You can expect to pay a fee to install the device, a fee to remove the device, and a monthly rental fee in the meantime.

This will add between $700 and $1,200 per year to your DUI costs.

If an engine interlock device is in the cards for you, give us a call and ask to speak with an agent. We’ve got a good discount worked out with Intoxalock, one of the top interlock device manufacturers in the country. Select Insurance Group car insurance customers get up to 25% off rental fees as long as you’re with us.


Car impoundment. 

If you’re found guilty of a DUI, chances are your car will be impounded for between 10 and 30 days. You get to pay the cost for it. Remember those daily fees at the impound lot? If your car gets towed to the lot, you’ll have to pay the daily charge to get it out. At $100 per day, you’re looking at $1,000, easy.

Lots of people lose their cars permanently because of this, because they don’t have the cash to go pick the car up once the impoundment period is complete. And without a car, they can’t get to work, so they’re out that income, and maybe lose their job.

Sometimes you can just get the police to put a “boot” on your car in your driveway, which is a lot cheaper, though you’ll still have fees.

A good DUI lawyer will already know if your city or county does this, and will ask. Boom. She probably saved you several hundred dollars right there.

A cheap DUI lawyer or generalist who hasn’t done a bunch of DUI trials probably wouldn’t have a clue.


License reinstatement fees.

If your license is suspended,  your state Department of Motor Vehicles will probably charge a fee to reinstate it. It’s usually about $200.


SR22 fees. 

SR22 fees. If your state imposes an SR22 (or in Florida and Virginia, an FR44), your insurance company will probably charge a processing fee of $50 to $65. But you need them to forward one of these forms to reinstate your license (or prevent it from lapsing).


Court-ordered fines. 

If you’re found guilty, or you plead guilty to a DUI, the court will probably assess a fine. State laws vary, but the fine for a first offense without aggravating factors ranges from $500 to $2,000.

If you add in aggravating factors, like if you blew over 0.15, or if you had a minor child in the car, fines could go up substantially from there.


Total cost of a first-time DUI

Your total direct costs from a DUI incident could go as high as $20,000, assuming the worst-case scenario with each of these financial hits. In practice, the average total cost of a first-time DUI, nationwide, is around 12,500.

That’s without accounting for property damage, bodily injury, etc., to other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians you may cause while driving under the influence.

If you lose your job of course, the cost is much higher. And if you’re a CDL license holder, you could lose your entire career.


Take control of your insurance costs.

Yes, you can expect your car insurance premiums to go up substantially from where they were before. But you don’t have to be a sucker. It’s a good idea to get multiple quotes from different carriers right after a DUI, and every six months or so, thereafter. If your current carrier is treating you fairly, great! Otherwise, we’ll get offers from multiple competing carriers and keep them honest.

You’ll have to pay more than you did before the DUI. But don’t pay more than you have to.

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI or other moving violation recently, or you have a DUI or points on your record, contact us today.

See you on the road!

Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig
CEO, Select Insurance Group