Imagine all the things you could do if you were unexpectedly given $10,000. Buying a big hot tub, taking an amazing trip to an exotic destination or even buying a nice used vehicle would all be options.
Now imagine the inverse situation. Instead of receiving money, $10,000 or more is unexpectedly taken away from you without notice. It’s something dozens of Washington residents deal with every week when they are convicted of driving under the influence.
The minimum cost for a DUI conviction in Washington will likely be at least $7,000, based on numbers from nerdwallet.com. The maximum cost can end up being well above $11,000.
A DUI charge is a serious criminal offense, explains Bellingham attorney Ziad Youssef. A DUI is not comparable to a traffic offense like speeding. When arrested, there is an immediate need for a lawyer who can help you protect, preserve and defend your rights like the right to collect evidence, remain silent, have a license hearing, get a jury trial, avoid excessive bail and other conditions that might be imposed while the case is pending.
To understand the true financial cost of a DUI violation, here are some of the factors you must consider:
The court penalties
In Washington, the minimum fine for a first-offence DUI charge is $940.50 and the maximum is $5,000. For second or third offenses, the max fine stays at $5,000, but the minimum increases to more than $2,000. You will also be assessed court fees, sentenced to jail time (up to one year) and put on probation for a minimum of two years and a maximum of five years.
A DUI conviction will result in significantly higher insurance premiums for at least five years. On average, the average increase is $467 for at least five years. That is a total cost of $2,335. The court might also require you to have SR-22 insurance, which is a guarantee from the insurance company you will hold the at least the minimum insurance for a specified period (usually three years). Having an SR-22 on your record makes it difficult to get insurance without prepaying the policy in full, explains dmv.org.
You might be able to continue driving after a DUI conviction with an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. The initial fee to apply for the interlock device is $100. Installation must be done by a certified installer. The installation costs can range from $50 to more than $200, depending on the vehicle, reports ignitioninterlockdevice.org. Then you pay a monthly rental fee of about $100. For a first offense, you will be required to use the device for a year. For a third offense, you must have the device for 10 years. Total annual cost for an interlock device will be about $1,200, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
The cost to hire an attorney to defend you against a DUI charge will vary. It can range from hundreds of dollars on up, depending on the specifics of the case and the charges. When facing a DUI charge, you do not want to try to save money by skipping representation. An experienced DUI lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure that you mount the best possible defense.
Any DUI charge will result in numerous complications that potentially carry hefty financial consequences. These can range from something as simple as lost time from work, to paying for rehab, to unemployment or even to broken relationships. There are also completely nonmonetary costs like loss of respect or loss of driving privileges.
Even if you are facing a first offense, dealing with a DUI charge will end up being costly and it will have major repercussions in your life. If you find yourself in that situation, your best course of action is to involve an experienced DUI attorney as early as possible to help you work through the process.