In a recent MSN Money article, the financial cost of your average DUI is investigated. The result? A DUI charge can easily reach $10,000.00 of expenses, after all is said and done. In 2009, there were an estimated 1.4 million DUI arrests nationally. The article found the largest DUI expenses to include court fines, insurance rate increases, and legal fees for your defense.
In the piece, Carole Walker, the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, says that typically insurance rates will be impacted for anywhere between 3-8 years. A DUI could also cause your rates to double, triple, or even quadruple. Once a DUI conviction has been reported on your record, many insurers will put you in a high-risk category, making premiums jump higher. Companies also have the option of dropping your coverage all together, leaving you to find another insurer.
In addition to a heavy impact on insurance premiums, the MSN article also points out that legal fees to defend a DUI charge will start at around $2500, with costs increasing if your case requires more resources (investigators, expert witnesses, transcripts) Finally, court fines, required probation, and alcohol counseling classes can cost hundreds of dollars, all adding on to the overall cost of your case.
As a defense attorney in the Metro-Atlanta area, I would estimate the average cost of a DUI is in-line with the article's $10,000 estimate. A quick breakdown of the expense(s) I see on a daily basis are:
Court Fines: $1500-$2500
Probation Fees: $500 (12 months supervision)
Legal Fees: $2500-$7500
Community Service $400 (40 hours at $10/hour)
License Costs $500
As you can see, even a minimal DUI case will easily cost upwards of $6,000, and pleading to the DUI from the start will not save on many of these costs. Motions hearings, investigations, and license issues will usually add expense to fighting any DUI case in Georgia. As Tennessee Attorney Steve Oberman points out in the article, perhaps the largest impact of a DUI charge is the stigma associated with it.
In Georgia a DUI is a life-long event. Your GCIC (Georgia criminal record) does not get expunged and the charges do not 'age off'. Employers, schools, licensing boards, and rental agents with access to your criminal record will see the DUI. Without a doubt, it is money well spent to defend a DUI charge the right way from the beginning, rather than simply enter a plea to the charges and wait years, or forever, for the long-term financial impact to subside. If you have DUI charges in the Metro Atlanta or North Georgia area, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your best defense options.