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What’s the Average Cost of Getting a DUI?

Regardless of where you are in the United States if you get charged with a DUI, it can be very expensive. The cost is not only for expenses such as posting bail or the cost of legal fees but there are many other costs that will come because of the charge.

If convicted, then obviously the cost will be even greater. Here we will help you understand the high cost of getting a DUI in the US.

How Serious Are DUI Infractions Across The U.S.?

a person arrested for dui in montana

If you’ve never been involved in any kind of incident related to drunk driving then you may feel that it is not especially serious.

If so, you might be surprised to learn that upwards of 30 people die every single day from car accidents where someone was driving while intoxicated.

In fact, it is estimated that as many as 33% of all drivers in the US will be involved in one way or another with an alcohol-related vehicular accident at some point in their lifetime.

On any given year as many as 10,000 people will lose their lives to an alcohol-related car accident. As many as a million drivers are arrested for driving while intoxicated each year.

Understanding The Different Classifications Across The U.S.

In most States, if you are of legal drinking age and you are found to be driving a vehicle with a blood-alcohol ratio of .08 or higher then you are illegally drunk driving.

If you are under the legal age to drink alcohol and are found to be driving a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in your system then you are illegally driving while intoxicated.

Depending on the state where you are charged with this crime, there are a number of different acronyms that are used.

1. DUI

drunk driving is a very bad idea

DUI is what is most often used to refer to drunk driving here in Montana (learn more here). This stands for driving under the influence and it is one of the most common acronyms used.

2. DWI

Driving while intoxicated is what this acronym stands for and it is perhaps the second most common one used.


Driving under the influence of liquor is a specific charge found in some areas.


These are also less commonly used but a different variation which simply stands for Operating Under the Influence, operating while intoxicated, and operating under the influence of liquor.

All of these acronyms are used in reference to driving while under the influence of alcohol and some are also used for indicating that the person was operating a vehicle under the influence of illicit drugs. In some states, the different acronyms are used to indicate the level of offense.

As an example, DUI can mean that the person was driving while impaired and yet if they are given a charge of a DWI or DUIL, then it means that the charge is much more serious.

The acronyms used and how they indicate the seriousness of the charge is different from state-to-state.

In some cases, the differences in meaning are interchangeable and do not indicate the seriousness of the charge or lack of it.

Cost Of A DUI In The US

a big pile of money that will be used to pay all the fees associated with driving drunk

On average across the U.S., the basic legal cost can run upwards of $10,000 if convicted for a DUI. Unfortunately, this doesn’t represent the total cost.

Anyone who is convicted of a DUI will find that their insurance rates go up considerably and those higher rates can continue for several years.

As well, the court will often impose certain requirements on the one who was convicted that may require that person to lose time from work while fulfilling the court’s requirements.

Some of these requirements can include going to driving school or court-mandated alcohol counseling. In some cases, the person may be required to perform community services as part of their restitution.

All of these things can mean that the individual will have to take time off of work as well as use some of their personal time to fulfill the court requirements.

Other costs can include a State restitution fine, payment to attend an alcohol abuse education class, attorney fees, and the fee to have your license reissued.

Where is the Most Expensive?

a car crash

Massachusetts has perhaps the highest cost of first time DUI legal fees. These fees cost $11,000 to $14,000 and that’s just the start of it.

The minimum fine in addition to those fees is $500. If you’re required to attend a driving alcohol school then the cost will be around $600.

Estimates on the amount of increase you might experience with your insurance could be as high as $6,000 extra per year.

Other States with Big DUI Fines

Costs in a state such as California for a first time DUI offense can range between $6,400 to just over $10,000. California has a minimum fine of $390 and they typically charge a restitution fee of $100.

If you were given a breath test and convicted then you will have to pay $37 for that test. Estimates on the amount of attorney fees you are likely to have are around $2,500 and you could see an increase in insurance from $3,000 up to $6,000 per year extra.

The state of Texas can cost you up to $11,000 for a first time DUI offense and they have one of the highest minimum fines. If convicted the minimum fine is $2,000 along with a penalty assessment of $600 and a restitution fee of $180.

This is in addition to the other cost such as your breathalyzer test fee, driving alcohol school fees, having your license reissued, attorney fees and the increase that you will experience in your insurance cost.

Other Possible Expenses

There are other expenses that someone convicted of a DUI could face. Many states are now requiring first-time offenders to have their car fitted with an ignition interlock device.

This can cost up to $1,500. These only represent the basic cost and depending on the state, it can run up to as much as $25,000. If the incident involved property damage or someone was injured then the cost will skyrocket from there.

If, as a consequence, the person convicted of DUI is also found responsible in civil court for pain and suffering to others or similar offenses then the sky is the limit as to how much they might be facing in total costs.


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