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The Financial Anatomy of a DUI

A 5 decade decline of fatalities from traffic crashes ended in 2015, according to a statement released in August of this year. The NHTSA revealed that 35,092 died in traffic-related accidents. A leading factor? DUIs and DWIs.

A good look at the potential financial costs of a DUI charge serves as an excellent warning of the results of one careless decision.

1. Tow truck fees.

If you’re driving while under the influence, chances are you will get into a car accident and need to have your car towed. Towing requires a base rate, generally about $35 to $100, and then you pay per mile towed, $2.50 to $5. So if you crash your car in the boonies, the charge will be steep. For example, being towed for 100 miles would cost you between $275 to $600. Some insurance companies will cover the cost of your tow, but others don’t include this in their plan.

2. Property damage fees.

Even if you don’t need your car towed, with impaired driving ability, you might find that you crashed into a store, or someone’s picket fence. Depending on the damages accrued, and if you are taken to a Small Claims Court, you may be fined between $2,500 to $15,000, not including lawyer fees. Fees related to damages can definitely balloon, however. And in the most severe cases of property damage, expect a six-figure bill, or higher.

4. Lawyer fees.

DUI defense is no joke. Having a DUI on your record can set you back on many fronts. Finding a good lawyer is a priority. Lawyers typically require $100 to $300 an hour. You’ll need legal defense against your DUI charge, as well as any lawsuit brought against you for property damage. Expect to pay between $250 to $4,000 in legal fees for a good lawyer who knows what they are doing.

4. DUI fines.

Your DUI fine will depend on the circumstances of your DUI, such as whether this was your first offense or not. First time offenders typically pay $1,000 to $2,000. But this varies from state to state. For example, California enforces attendance of a $500 alcohol treatment program. And in extreme cases courts can order a 6 to 10 month incarceration in jail.

5. An interlock device.

Some states mandate an interlock device be installed in your car if you have been convicted of a DUI. An interlock device only allows you to begin driving after getting your breath tested. Interlock devices carry monthly rental fees between $75 and 90 a month and an initial installation fee of $85 to 100.

6. Diminished salary due to disrupted work.

If you are convicted of a DUI, your license will likely be revoked for a period of time. If driving was your sole means of transportation to and from your work, your salary or your take-home pay will suffer. As you will now either need to use public transport options, or postpone work until you are able to drive once again.

7. Increase in insurance rates.

Having a DUI on your record will make it difficult for you to get good insurance rates going forward. Premiums will rise, and your insurance may even triple from the amount you were previously paying. Some insurance companies may blacklist you for a number of years, until you are able to show a clean driving record that goes back several years.

While the financial damages of a DUI can set you back by $10,000 to $15,000, there are other long-lasting repercussions to consider. For example, the damage to your reputation, physical injury to other persons if you were involved in a traffic accident while under an influence, etc.

The next time you’re tempted to drive home after a night out, compare a $100 cab fee to the years it will take you to recover from a DUI charge. And then make the right choice.

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